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Willard Scott

Willard Scott
Scott at the 1990 Emmy Awards
Born Willard Herman Scott, Jr.
(1934-03-07) March 7, 1934
Alexandria, Virginia
Nationality American
Occupation Weather presenter, author, television personality, actor
Years active 1950–present
Notable work Weatherman for the Today show
Portrayer of Ronald McDonald in the original McDonald's commercials
Spouse(s) Mary Dwyer Scott (m. 1959; her death 2002)
Paris Keena (m. 2014)
Children Mary Scott
Sally Scott
Family John (grandson)

Willard Herman Scott, Jr. (born March 7, 1934) is an American weather presenter, author, television personality and occasional actor, best known for his TV work on the Today show and as the creator and original portrayer of Ronald McDonald.[1]


  • Early years 1
  • Career 2
    • Joy Boys radio show 2.1
    • Washington, D.C., TV roles 2.2
    • Ronald McDonald character 2.3
    • The Today Show 2.4
  • Other TV work and awards 3
    • Writings 3.1
  • Personal life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early years

Scott was born in NBC page at WRC-AM, NBC's owned-and-operated radio station in Washington, D.C.[2] Scott then attended American University, where he worked alongside fellow student Ed Walker at WAMU-AM, the university's radio station (1951–1953). Scott became a member of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity while at American University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and religion.[2]


Joy Boys radio show

From 1955 to 1972, Scott teamed with Ed Walker as co-host of the nightly Joy Boys radio program on WRC-AM. (This was interrupted from 1956 to 1958 when Scott served on active duty with the U.S.Navy.) Scott routinely sketched a list of characters and a few lead lines setting up a situation, which Walker would commit to memory or make notes on with his Braille typewriter (Walker was blind since birth). In a 1999 article recalling the Joy Boys at the height of their popularity in the mid-1960s, The Washington Post said they "dominated Washington, providing entertainment, companionship, and community to a city on the verge of powerful change".[3] The Joy Boys show played on WRC until 1972 when they moved to cross-town station WWDC for another two years. Scott wrote in his book, The Joy of Living, of their close professional and personal bond which has continued to the present, saying that they are "closer than most brothers".[1]

Washington, D.C., TV roles

Scott spent the 1960s balancing his radio career with jobs as the host of children's television programs. He appeared on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., playing characters such as Commander Retro and Bozo the Clown.[4] In 1970, Scott began appearing on WRC-TV as a weekday weatherman.

Ronald McDonald character

Scott as Ronald McDonald, from one of the first three pre-recorded TV ads to feature Ronald

Another TV role he performed regularly from 1963 to 1966 and occasionally as late as 1971 was Ronald McDonald for a McDonald's franchise in Washington, D.C. Scott wrote in his book The Joy of Living that he originally created the Ronald McDonald character at the fast-food restaurant chain's request.[1]

In his book Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser claims that McDonald's replaced Scott on account of his weight, supposedly concerned about McDonald's image.[5]

The Today Show

Scott was tapped by NBC in 1980 to become its weatherman for The Today Show, replacing Bob Ryan, who replaced him at WRC-TV until 2010. After being inspired by a viewer request, Scott began his practice of wishing centenarians a happy birthday on-air in 1983.

During the 1980s, Scott routinely did weather reports on the road, interviewing locals at community festivals and landmarks. He also periodically performed on the program from Washington D.C., which he still considered his home. During this time, NBC executives told the bald Scott to wear a hairpiece. He complied when in New York, but refused when outside of the studio, resulting in a strange dichotomy on the air.

In 1989, The Today Show co-host

  • Willard Scott at the Internet Movie Database
  • Centenarian Birthday Biographies from a media production company's website
  • The Joyboys tribute site.
  • Willard as a top 40 DJ on the Great98 WRC tribute site.
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • , July 13, 2003.The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune interview with Scott on Booknotes

External links

  1. ^ a b c Willard Scott, The Joy of Living. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1982 (ISBN 0-698-11130-3).
  2. ^ a b c d "Willard Scott — Weather Reporter and Centenarian".  
  3. ^ Marc Fisher, "Washington Comes of Age", The Washington Post, September 13, 1999
  4. ^ Listed References on WorldHeritage's "Bozo the Clown" Discussion Page
  5. ^ Schlosser, Eric. Fast food nation : The dark side of the all-American meal (1st Mariner Books ed.). Boston: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 41.  
  6. ^ Monica Collins, "Memo to NBC: We Love Scott", USA Today, March 1, 1989.
  7. ^ , it's kiss and make up",TodayBrian Donlon, "On USA Today, March 14, 1989.
  8. ^ Miller, Kyle Michael (April 2, 2014). "Willard Scott got married! 'Today' legend weds longtime love".  


Scott was married to Mary Dwyer Scott from 1959 until her death in 2002. The couple had two children, Mary and Sally. On April 1, 2014, at age 80, Scott married Paris Keena, whom he first met in 1977 while she was working at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. They have been together as a couple since 2003.[8]

Personal life

He preached a sermon at the 185th anniversary of his home church, First Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, that was published in Best Sermons 2, edited by James W. Cox [Harper & Row, 1989].

  • Murder Under Blue Skies
  • Murder in the Mist

He has also co-authored two books with Bill Crider:

  • The Joy of Living
  • Down Home Stories
  • Willard Scott’s All-American Cookbook
  • America Is My Neighborhood
  • The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune
  • If I Knew It Was Going To Be This Much Fun, I Would Have Become A Grandparent First

Scott has published several fiction and non-fiction books:[2]


Scott spoke at his grandson John Swiatek's graduation at Middleburg Academy in 2011.

In 2001, American University reissued some of the old Joy Boys radio broadcasts of the 1960s on CDs. He has also played Santa Claus at various White House events.

  • "Distinguished Virginian", Virginia Association of Broadcasters (1990)
  • "Washingtonian of the Year", Washingtonian magazine (1979)
  • "Humanitarian in Residence", National Society of Fund Raisers (1985)
  • "National Partner in 4-H Citations", National 4-H, US Dept of Agriculture(1984)
  • Honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University

In 1985, Scott was given a Private Sector Award for Public Service by U.S. President Ronald Reagan.[2] Other awards include:

In 1990 & 1992, Scott also hosted the Pillsbury Bake-Off on CBS (although under contract with CBS' rival NBC).

Scott had a small role as Mr. Peter Poole on The Hogan Family, where his character was married to Mrs. Poole, played by Edie McClurg. From 1961 to 1963 Scott portrayed Bozo the Clown, in the classic children's television program. Scott also hosted the NBC telecast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1987 until 1997 when he was replaced by Matt Lauer the following year. For several years in the 1980s, Scott donned a Santa Claus costume for the broadcast of the National Tree-Lighting Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Other TV work and awards

Scott went into semi-retirement in 1996 and was succeeded by Al Roker. Scott continued to substitute for Roker for over a decade afterward, an arrangement that mostly ended after NBC acquired The Weather Channel in 2009 and started using that channel's meteorologists as substitutes. He continues to appear twice a week on the morning program to wish centenarians a happy birthday. He appears from the studio lot of WBBH, the NBC affiliate in Fort Myers, Florida. He is also the commercial voice of Smucker's jellies, which sponsors his birthday tributes on Today.

In 1992, Scott, who was the first incarnation of Ronald McDonald, recorded a commercial for McDonald's archrival Burger King.

From the late 1980s until the early 1990s, Scott served as the spokesperson for True Value Hardware Stores, alongside Pat Summerall.


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