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Willard Scott, former Today Show weatherman, 87
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2021-09-04 21:41:34 UTC
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Willard Scott, 'Today' show weatherman and resident merrymaker, dies at
87

By Bob Levey

Sep 4 2021 at 4:28 p.m. EDT

Willard Scott, the portly, toupee-sporting TV personality who spent 35
years enlivening the "Today" show as its weatherman and resident
merrymaker, whether delivering the forecast dressed in drag or giving
shout-outs to far-flung centenarians, died Sept. 4. He was 87.

The death was announced by NBC News via a statement by Mr. Scott's
successor, Al Roker. Complete details were not immediately available.

Mr. Scott first made his name as an irrepressible comedian of
Washington radio trading in shtick and satire as half of "The Joy
Boys." On local TV, he was the original Ronald McDonald — the hamburger
chain went with a thinner actor for the bulb-nosed clown mascot in the
national campaign — and had stints as a weather forecaster and Bozo the
Clown.

In a broadcasting career spanning six decades, he was best known for
his role on "Today," the popular NBC weekday morning program. He
debuted in 1980 and immediately made his presence known, draping his
6-foot-3 frame in outrageous costumes. He once dressed up as Carmen
Miranda, the Brazilian entertainer known for her outré fruit-covered
hats and garish dresses. On Groundhog Day, he appeared as the rodent.

His tomfoolery drew private scorn from "Today" show contemporaries and
predecessors such as Hugh Downs, but Mr. Scott was unapologetic.
"People said I was a buffoon to do it," he told the New York Times.
"Well, all my life I've been a buffoon. That's my act."

The centenarian segment began soon after he joined the show, when a
friend asked Mr. Scott to wish a happy 100th birthday, live and in
color, to his uncle. NBC bosses didn't like the idea, but Mr. Scott
went ahead with it. He was soon fielding about 200 requests a week.

Before his first year on "Today" was out, the Los Angeles Times called
him a "big friendly man who's become a national folk hero." When
"Today" went on the road, as it often did, Mr. Scott was routinely
besieged by well-wishers and autograph seekers. Just as routinely, he
kissed babies and pressed the flesh.

With his sunny disposition and jovial personality, he became a favorite
of Madison Avenue and the lecture circuit. He reaped a small fortune
giving upbeat talks to trade associations and promoting products from
Diet Coke to Florida oranges.

He once described himself as a "human after-dinner mint" compared with
the more polished anchors on the show, including Bryant Gumbel and Jane
Pauley, who liked to conduct serious-minded sit-downs with world
figures.

Unlike viewers who embraced Mr. Scott's sincerity and warmth, his
co-hosts did not find him refreshing. Pauley once publicly called him
"an alien being," and he endured an embarrassing public scrap with
Gumbel.

In 1989, when "Today" had slipped behind ABC's "Good Morning America"
in the ratings for the first time, Gumbel wrote a stinging memorandum
to his bosses. It was soon leaked to media outlets.

In the memo, Gumbel savaged Mr. Scott for holding "the show hostage to
his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste. This guy is
killing us and no one's even trying to rein him in." (Gumbel, widely
regarded by colleagues as distant and haughty, issued scathing comments
about other "Today" personnel, including film critic Gene Shalit,
noting that his reviews "are often late and his interviews aren't very
good.")

NBC brass insisted that Mr. Scott and Gumbel make up, and they soon
did, at least publicly. Mr. Scott, who told a reporter that the memo
"cut like a knife," had the last laugh. The weatherman was soon earning
$1 million a year from NBC, even though he was seldom on the air for
more than three minutes an hour. And a call-in poll in USA Today, taken
soon after the hubbub developed, reported that 27,300 people thought
Mr. Scott's weather segments helped the show. Only 854 took an
unfavorable view of him.

Mr. Scott professed to being a country boy at heart, and he was the
first to acknowledge that his on-air style was hokey. He liked to joke
that, in him, NBC had finally found a successor to J. Fred Muggs, the
chimpanzee who was a mainstay on "Today" in the 1950s.

"If you watch, you'll see that I am trying to weave a web of love," he
told a Time magazine interviewer in 1980. "I want to make the whole
country feel as if we are one. I may be a cornball, but I am me — not a
sophisticated, slick New York wazoo act."

Willard Herman Scott Jr. was born in Alexandria, Va., on March 7, 1934.
His father was an insurance salesman. His mother worked as a telephone
operator and became a homemaker when her only child was born.

Mr. Scott was raised as and remained a fundamentalist Christian. He
seriously considered becoming a minister before several
right-place-right-time breaks vaulted him into Washington radio.

In his youth, Mr. Scott organized a radio club on his block. As a
teenager, he spent time at local station WPIK on Friday nights. An
announcer befriended him and allowed him to launch a high school show
called "Lady Make Believe," for which Mr. Scott was the announcer.

The success of that program led swiftly to three other youth-oriented
shows on local stations. Meanwhile, he studied religion and philosophy
at American University, where he graduated in 1955. He later served in
the Navy.

He met Ed Walker, a fellow student, at the AU campus radio station, and
they developed a comedy show that became "The Joy Boys." They had a
long tenure at WRC, an NBC-owned radio station, and in one skit mocked
NBC's flagship news program, "The Huntley-Brinkley Report," as "The
Washer-Dryer Report." They also invented a bogus soap opera, "As the
Worm Turns."

Their satirical program moved in 1972 to WWDC-AM but was soon canceled
as the station switched to a rock music format. Walker died in 2015.

Mr. Scott thrived as a Washington personality, doing product pitches,
popping up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and appearing as a fill-in
weatherman on WRC-TV in 1967, when the incumbent suddenly walked off
the job. He was doing the job full time when "Today" beckoned.

He went into semiretirement in 1996 and retired fully in 2015. His
final show drew a chorus of good-natured protests, including a message
from former first lady Barbara Bush.

His wife of 43 years, the former Mary Dwyer, died in 2002. Survivors
include his second wife, the former Paris Keena, a onetime producer at
WRC whom he married in 2014; and two daughters from his first marriage,
Mary Phillips and Sally Scott.

"If you were to look at my resume," Mr. Scott wrote in his 1982
autobiography, "The Joy of Living," "you'd see that I'm … bald, I'm
overweight, I don't make all the smooth moves, and I dress like a slob.

"I take tremendous pride," he added, "in the fact that I beat the
system."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/willard-scott-dead/2021/
09/04/bcb61e6c-f511-11e5-9804-537defcc3cf6_story.html

https://tinyurl.com/47pdeacc
radioacti...@gmail.com
2021-09-05 06:59:21 UTC
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I always thought the late Scott was older than 87--maybe even less than a decade removed from where successor funnyman weather jockey Al Roker could make him one of the Today centenarians Scott celebrated for Smucker's all those years.

Also, I never was aware of his sadly-sightless radio sidekick on The Joy Boys; sounds like District of Columbia-area audiences really enjoyed those guys.

Oh, and curse that usually-sterling broadcast presence Bryant Gumbel, for so trashing and scuttling so delightful a broadcast partner!

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
Marc Catone
2021-09-05 17:47:32 UTC
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Post by A Friend
Willard Scott, 'Today' show weatherman and resident merrymaker, dies at
87
By Bob Levey
Sep 4 2021 at 4:28 p.m. EDT
Willard Scott, the portly, toupee-sporting TV personality who spent 35
years enlivening the "Today" show as its weatherman and resident
merrymaker, whether delivering the forecast dressed in drag or giving
shout-outs to far-flung centenarians, died Sept. 4. He was 87.
The death was announced by NBC News via a statement by Mr. Scott's
successor, Al Roker. Complete details were not immediately available.
Mr. Scott first made his name as an irrepressible comedian of
Washington radio trading in shtick and satire as half of "The Joy
Boys." On local TV, he was the original Ronald McDonald — the hamburger
chain went with a thinner actor for the bulb-nosed clown mascot in the
national campaign — and had stints as a weather forecaster and Bozo the
Clown.
In a broadcasting career spanning six decades, he was best known for
his role on "Today," the popular NBC weekday morning program. He
debuted in 1980 and immediately made his presence known, draping his
6-foot-3 frame in outrageous costumes. He once dressed up as Carmen
Miranda, the Brazilian entertainer known for her outré fruit-covered
hats and garish dresses. On Groundhog Day, he appeared as the rodent.
His tomfoolery drew private scorn from "Today" show contemporaries and
predecessors such as Hugh Downs, but Mr. Scott was unapologetic.
"People said I was a buffoon to do it," he told the New York Times.
"Well, all my life I've been a buffoon. That's my act."
The centenarian segment began soon after he joined the show, when a
friend asked Mr. Scott to wish a happy 100th birthday, live and in
color, to his uncle. NBC bosses didn't like the idea, but Mr. Scott
went ahead with it. He was soon fielding about 200 requests a week.
Before his first year on "Today" was out, the Los Angeles Times called
him a "big friendly man who's become a national folk hero." When
"Today" went on the road, as it often did, Mr. Scott was routinely
besieged by well-wishers and autograph seekers. Just as routinely, he
kissed babies and pressed the flesh.
With his sunny disposition and jovial personality, he became a favorite
of Madison Avenue and the lecture circuit. He reaped a small fortune
giving upbeat talks to trade associations and promoting products from
Diet Coke to Florida oranges.
He once described himself as a "human after-dinner mint" compared with
the more polished anchors on the show, including Bryant Gumbel and Jane
Pauley, who liked to conduct serious-minded sit-downs with world
figures.
Unlike viewers who embraced Mr. Scott's sincerity and warmth, his
co-hosts did not find him refreshing. Pauley once publicly called him
"an alien being," and he endured an embarrassing public scrap with
Gumbel.
In 1989, when "Today" had slipped behind ABC's "Good Morning America"
in the ratings for the first time, Gumbel wrote a stinging memorandum
to his bosses. It was soon leaked to media outlets.
In the memo, Gumbel savaged Mr. Scott for holding "the show hostage to
his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste. This guy is
killing us and no one's even trying to rein him in." (Gumbel, widely
regarded by colleagues as distant and haughty, issued scathing comments
about other "Today" personnel, including film critic Gene Shalit,
noting that his reviews "are often late and his interviews aren't very
good.")
NBC brass insisted that Mr. Scott and Gumbel make up, and they soon
did, at least publicly. Mr. Scott, who told a reporter that the memo
"cut like a knife," had the last laugh. The weatherman was soon earning
$1 million a year from NBC, even though he was seldom on the air for
more than three minutes an hour. And a call-in poll in USA Today, taken
soon after the hubbub developed, reported that 27,300 people thought
Mr. Scott's weather segments helped the show. Only 854 took an
unfavorable view of him.
Mr. Scott professed to being a country boy at heart, and he was the
first to acknowledge that his on-air style was hokey. He liked to joke
that, in him, NBC had finally found a successor to J. Fred Muggs, the
chimpanzee who was a mainstay on "Today" in the 1950s.
"If you watch, you'll see that I am trying to weave a web of love," he
told a Time magazine interviewer in 1980. "I want to make the whole
country feel as if we are one. I may be a cornball, but I am me — not a
sophisticated, slick New York wazoo act."
Willard Herman Scott Jr. was born in Alexandria, Va., on March 7, 1934.
His father was an insurance salesman. His mother worked as a telephone
operator and became a homemaker when her only child was born.
Mr. Scott was raised as and remained a fundamentalist Christian. He
seriously considered becoming a minister before several
right-place-right-time breaks vaulted him into Washington radio.
In his youth, Mr. Scott organized a radio club on his block. As a
teenager, he spent time at local station WPIK on Friday nights. An
announcer befriended him and allowed him to launch a high school show
called "Lady Make Believe," for which Mr. Scott was the announcer.
The success of that program led swiftly to three other youth-oriented
shows on local stations. Meanwhile, he studied religion and philosophy
at American University, where he graduated in 1955. He later served in
the Navy.
He met Ed Walker, a fellow student, at the AU campus radio station, and
they developed a comedy show that became "The Joy Boys." They had a
long tenure at WRC, an NBC-owned radio station, and in one skit mocked
NBC's flagship news program, "The Huntley-Brinkley Report," as "The
Washer-Dryer Report." They also invented a bogus soap opera, "As the
Worm Turns."
Their satirical program moved in 1972 to WWDC-AM but was soon canceled
as the station switched to a rock music format. Walker died in 2015.
Mr. Scott thrived as a Washington personality, doing product pitches,
popping up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and appearing as a fill-in
weatherman on WRC-TV in 1967, when the incumbent suddenly walked off
the job. He was doing the job full time when "Today" beckoned.
He went into semiretirement in 1996 and retired fully in 2015. His
final show drew a chorus of good-natured protests, including a message
from former first lady Barbara Bush.
His wife of 43 years, the former Mary Dwyer, died in 2002. Survivors
include his second wife, the former Paris Keena, a onetime producer at
WRC whom he married in 2014; and two daughters from his first marriage,
Mary Phillips and Sally Scott.
"If you were to look at my resume," Mr. Scott wrote in his 1982
autobiography, "The Joy of Living," "you'd see that I'm … bald, I'm
overweight, I don't make all the smooth moves, and I dress like a slob.
"I take tremendous pride," he added, "in the fact that I beat the
system."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/willard-scott-dead/2021/
09/04/bcb61e6c-f511-11e5-9804-537defcc3cf6_story.html
https://tinyurl.com/47pdeacc
I seldom watched "Today", but was aware of Willard Scott. I always hoped he would live to be 100.
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