TODAY Host Al Roker Mourns Death of Longtime Weatherman Willard Scott in Heartbreaking Tribute

by Matthew Memrick

“Today” show host and weatherman Al Roker paid a heartfelt tribute Saturday on Instagram to the late Willard Scott.

Roker called the former weatherman “his second dad” and credited him for his road to the NBC network as a broadcaster. The 67-year-old Roker also talked about Scott’s generous spirit and said, “there will never be anyone quite like (Scott).”

Other former coworkers paid tributes to Willard Scott on Twitter, including former co-hosts Katie Couric and Maria Shriver.

Over his time at The TODAY Show, Scott was part of a segment where he wished big “happy birthdays” to men and women turning 100.

The tradition began in 1983 when Willard Scott agreed to a viewer’s request. The man’s mother was turning 100 and he asked the broadcaster to wish his mom a happy birthday.

Sadly, Scott never reached that 100-year-old milestone.

He died at 87 on Saturday morning from natural causes. The broadcaster worked with NBC for 65 years.

Willard Scott Was Roker’s Predecessor

When Willard Scott announced his semi-retirement in early 1996, Roker was the next man up. Weeks later, Roker got the full-time gig on Jan. 26 of that year.

With their roles revised, Scott would fill in for Roker at times over the next 10 years.

Roker had filled in for many weather forecasters on the NBC network, including Scott on the Today Show. Roker started as a regular substitute from 1983 to 1996 on the “NBC News at Sunrise” slot. 

From 1990 to 1995, Roker filled in for Scott and Bryant Gumble. He took on an added role of filling in for Matt Lauer from 1997 to 2000. He earned “The Al Roker Show,” a weekend talk show on CNBC with all the hard work.

After some exposure on “The David Letterman Show,” Roker became a “Weekend Today” forecaster and often subbed for Scott of the weekday “Today” edition. 

Willard Scott Started at a Young Age

Scott had a long legacy with NBC, according to The Today Show

After graduating American University in 1950, Scott worked as a page at NBC Washington. From 1955 to 1974, he did a NBC Washington radio station show called “Joy Boys.” 

Notably, Scott’s work with children’s television shows led to a role as Bozo The Clown. In 1965, he was the first person to portray Ronald McDonald in Washington, D.C.-area commercials. He did spots for the fast-food chain until 1971.

According to some reports, Scott claimed he created the clownish character with big red shoes while McDonald’s disputed the claim. There may have been some bad blood between the two over the years. However, when Scott retired from the Today Show after 35 years, McDonald’s paid him a tribute. 

Scott worked locally for NBC Washington as a weather guy in the 1970s, and it wasn’t until March 1980 that he got the prime TODAY weatherman spot.