Scott, Willard H., Jr. 1934-
SCOTT, Willard H., Jr. 1934-
PERSONAL: Born March 7, 1934, in Alexandria, VA; son of Herman (in insurance sales) and Thelma (a telephone operator; maiden name, Phillips) Scott; married Mary Dwyer, August 7, 1959; children: Mary, Sally. Education: American University, B.A., 1955.
CAREER: National Broadcasting Co. (NBC), New York, NY, page with WRC-TV in Washington, DC, 1950, broadcaster (with Ed Walker—"The Joy Boys") for WOL-Radio in Washington, DC, 1950-53, for WRC-AM in Washington, DC, 1953-72, for Station WWDC in Washington, DC, 1972-74, weather reporter on Today show, 1980—. Weekend disc jockey for Station WINX, 1950. Weather reporter at WRC-AM, 1959-72, and WRC-TV, beginning in 1967. Appeared frequently on television as Ronald MacDonald and Bozo the Clown during the 1960s; announcer on commercials.
AWARDS, HONORS: Named Humanitarian-in-Residence, National Society of Fund Raisers, 1975; named Washingtonian-of-the-Year, Washingtonian magazine, 1979; inducted into Newspaper Carrier Hall of Fame, Newspaper Association of America, 2001.
Willard Scott's The Joy of Living, Coward (New York, NY), 1982.
Willard Scott's Down Home Stories, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1984.
Willard Scott's All-American Cookbook, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1986.
(With Daniel Paisner) America Is My Neighborhood, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1987.
(With Robert Shosteck) Robert Shosteck's Weekenders Guide to the Four Seasons, revised edition, edited by Susan C. Dore, Pelican, 1988.
Not Guilty: Detective Stories from the Strand (audio recording), narrated by Edward Raleigh, DH Audio, 1995.
(With Bill Crider) Murder under Blue Skies (mystery novel), Dutton (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Bill Crider) Murder in the Mist: A Stanley Waters Mystery, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Robert Shosteck) Weekend Getaways around Washington, D.C.: Including Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and North Carolina, 9th edition, edited by Victoria J. Heland, Pelican, 2000.
(With others) The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune: The Joys of Reaching a Certain Age, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.
(With others) If I Knew It Was Going to Be This Much Fun, I Would Have Become a Grandparent First, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.
Also author of introduction to The Thanksgiving Book: An Illustrated Treasury of Lore, Tales, Poems, Prayers, and the Best in Holiday Feasting, edited by Jerome Agel and Melinda Corey, Smithmark Publishing, 1995; contributor to The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, by Carla Torcilieri Dagostino, Lickle Publishing, 1997.
SIDELIGHTS: Willard Scott began reporting the weather on NBC's Today show on March 10, 1980. Already renowned as a radio and television personality in Washington, D.C., the broadcaster's zany approach to reporting the weather initially drew negative responses from many Today viewers. Clearly, Scott was not adverse to blowing kisses to fans or doffing his wig while on the air. Yet within the year, Scott was being favorably received by the majority of his viewers. In his autobiography Willard Scott's The Joy of Living, the broadcaster spoke about his national television success. "I'm a mutation," he wrote, "If you put me on an audience tape, everything is wrong. . . . If you were to look at my resume, you'd see that I'm 48 years old, I'm bald, I'm overweight, I don't make all the smooth moves, and I dress like a slob. . . .I'd never come out of the computer as being a hit . . . yet . . . I take tremendous pride in the fact that I beat the system." After appearing for more than twenty years on Today, Scott is now a fixture on the NBC television network, wishing centenarians happy birthday two mornings a week and serving as substitute weatherman. His corny, folksy appeal has also translated to the printed page in books ranging from autobiography to humor and fiction.
Scott attributes his lifelong success to a happy and secure childhood with a loving mother and father. The Joy of Living contains many fond anecdotes concerning his parents; Vic Sussman noted in the Washington Post Book World that "Scott's account of [his mother] Thelma's long battle with Alzheimer's Disease and [his father] Herman's slow wasting away are particularly moving." The critic also remarked that the chapter on the "Joy Boys," the radio comedy team that Scott created with Ed Walker, was one of the best in the volume. The Joy of Living would have been a better book had Scott treated us to more anecdotes about those years," Sussman determined. "Unfortunately, as do many who achieve national fame, [he] casts himself as a pundit, advising his readers on . . . marriage, divorce, child-rearing, human relations and religion. . . . Still, Scott is a superb performer and many of his fans will welcome this book."
With the assistance of coauthor Bill Crider, Scott has also turned his hand to mystery writing. Murder under Blue Skies introduces a rather familiar protagonist, the widowed and retired weatherman Stanley Waters, who is opening a B &B in his Virginia hometown. When a guest is poisoned by the cook's salsa, Waters learns that the police chief is someone he dated in high school. The relationship heats up again when the two work together to solve the murder. Booklist reviewer Emily Melton deemed that the novel has "a fair degree of flair and charm" and that it overcomes "smarmy" moments by being "more often gently humorous." A Publishers Weekly reviewer advised that it was likely Crider's help that made "this slow-paced jaunt read like a story told from a front-porch rocker." A wide variety of humor in the mystery appealed to School Library Journal critic Pam Johnson, who said that "the mystery itself unfolds carefully, allowing for plenty of speculation and red-herring clues."
Scott and Crider teamed up again to write Murder in the Mist: A Stanley Waters Mystery, in which Waters escapes serious harm from a bullet at a Civil War reenactment, but a local businessman near him is killed. Of this novel, Booklist's Wes Lukowsky suggested that the story is "as enjoyable an exercise in mayhem as one is likely to find." And a Publishers Weekly writer called the novel "entertaining, if lightweight" and described Waters as "an intriguing mixture of innocence and guile."
Among Scott's other writings are Willard Scott's Down Home Stories, a collection of old, puny humor; Willard Scott's All-American Cookbook, which includes recipes from restaurants he has visited; and America Is My Neighborhood, a patriotic collection that sketches people met during his broadcasting career. Two books by Scott collect the writings of others: The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune: The Joys of Reaching a Certain Age offers comments by older famous and not-so-famous individuals, and If I Knew It Was Going to Be This Much Fun, I Would Have Become a Grandparent First groups humorous essays by well-known figures with incidentals by Scott about being a grandparent.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 1998, Emily Melton, review of Murder under Blue Skies, p. 784; January 1, 1999, Wes Lukowsky, review of Murder in the Mist: A Stanley Waters Mystery, p. 840.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, June 20, 2003, Michael Kilian, "With a Name Like Willard Scott, This Has to Be Good," p. K7838.
Library Journal, November 1, 1982, Randall Rafferty, review of Willard Scott's The Joy of Living, p. 2092; November 15, 1986, Ruth Diebold, review of Willard Scott's All-American Cookbook, p. 97; October 1, 1987, Boyd Childress and Janet Fletcher, review of America Is My Neighborhood, p. 103.
People, January 28, 1985, Campbell Geeslin, review of Willard Scott's Down Home Stories, p. 15.
PR Newswire, July 23, 2001, "Today Show's Willard Scott Inducted into NAA's Newspaper Carrier Hall of Fame."
Publishers Weekly, November 3, 1997, review of Murder under Blue Skies, p. 68; December 14, 1998, review of Murder in the Mist, p. 60; February 24, 2003, review of The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune: The Joys of Reaching a Certain Age, p. 59; March 1, 2004, review of If I Knew It Was Going to Be This Much Fun, I Would Have Become a Grandparent First, p. 61.
Saturday Evening Post, November-December, 2003, review of The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune.
School Library Journal September, 1998, Pam Johnson, review of Murder under Blue Skies.
Washington Post Book World, September 23, 1982, Vic Sussman, review of Willard Scott's The Joy of Living.*