Scott, who died Saturday after a brief illness, was a fixture on the Today show, with his wacky hijinks and tributes to centenarians, from 1980 until 1996, when he went into semi-retirement and was succeeded by Al Roker. He remained an occasional presence on Today until his official retirement in 2015. Scott "was among the first of a generation of television weathermen who stressed showmanship over science. Throughout the late 20th century, he was also a ubiquitous television pitchman," writes Margalit Fox in Scott's New York Times obituary. "A garrulous, gaptoothed, boutonnière-wearing, funny-hatted, sometimes toupee-clad, larger-than-life American Everyman (in his prime, he stood 6-foot-3 and weighed nearly 300 pounds), Mr. Scott was hired in 1980 to help NBC’s Today compete with its chief rival, ABC’s Good Morning America. Joining Today that March, Mr. Scott went on to sport a string of outré outfits, spout a cornucopia of cornpone humor and wish happy birthday to a spate of American centenarians, all while talking about the forecast every so often, until his retirement in 2015. Though he was meant to represent the new, late-model television weatherman, Mr. Scott brought to the job a brand of shtick that harked back to earlier times. He seemed simultaneously to embody the jovial, backslapping Rotarian of the mid-20th century, the midway barker of the 19th and, in the opinion of at least some critics, the court jester of the Middle Ages." Scott was also best known as the first person to play Ronald McDonald, starting in local McDonald's commercials, after starring as Bozo the Clown in the 1950s and early 1960s. Scott was also a prolific commercial pitchman, starring in ads for everything from Real Butter to Days Inn to American Dairy Burgers and even McDonald's rival Burger King. In 1967, Scott was hired to do the weather for WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. Scott's tenure at Today wasn't perfect. In 1989, a memo co-host Bryant Gumbel wrote in 1988 criticizing his Today colleagues, including Scott, was leaked. Gumbel wrote that Scott “holds the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste.” In an Instagram tribute, Al 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 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." Former Today co-host Katie Couric added: "I am heartbroken that the much loved Willard Scott has passed away. He played such an outsized role in my life & was as warm & loving & generous off camera as he was on. Willard, you didn’t make it to the front of the Smucker’s jar, but you changed so many lives for the better." Watch Today's tribute to Willard Scott.