Willard Scott, a TV personality and the creator and original portrayer of the McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald, has passed away at the age of 87.
Scott was also well known for being a weatherman on the Today show, which confirmed the sad news of his death.
Al Roker, one of Scott’s colleagues from the show, paid tribute to him on Instagram, referring to him and his ‘second dad’.
Roker wrote: “We lost a beloved member of our @todayshow family this morning.
“Willard Scott passed peacefully at the age of 87 surrounded by family, including his daughters Sally and Mary and his lovely wife, Paris.
“He was truly my second dad and I am where I am today because of his generous spirit. Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster. There will never be anyone quite like him.”
Scott’s former employer also paid its condolences to Scott in an article, saying: “Scott, who joined Today in 1980, may have been best known for wishing happy birthday to fans turning 100, a feature that soared in popularity over the years, with images of centenarians appearing on Smucker’s jelly jars while Scott recognised them in front of millions of viewers.
“Scott, who began his 65-year career with NBC as a page at the affiliate station in Washington, DC, in 1950, would also do his forecasts on the road, delighting locals with his unflagging charm.”
As well as hosting children’s TV shows and appearing on radio playing a range of characters including Bozo the Clown, in the 1960s Scott became the first ever Ronald McDonald – the smiling clown known as the mascot of the McDonald’s chain.
As Ronald, he featured in commercials and in marketing imagery from the character’s first appearance in 1963 into the early 1970s.
Speaking to the New York Times back in 1987, Scott said: ”I just love people.
”A lot of speakers on the talk circuit leave right afterward.
“I do a lot of shmoozing. I’m like a dog. You just open the door and I go, ‘rrrr, rrrr,’ and then I lick everybody’s face.”
When working as a weatherman for the Today show, he also became well-loved for his humorous style, often dressing up to deliver the forecast.
“People said I was a buffoon to do it,” he continued.
“Well, all my life I’ve been a buffoon. That’s my act.”