Willard was the superstar of weathercasters during the 1980's and 1990's when he worked on the Today Show full time. He was not a meteorologist and was the first to admit it. Willard's personable style and comedy made him a hit and he became America's most famous weatherman and a household name.
Back in the 1960's, Willard was the local weatherman at WRC-TV in Washington, DC.
He was also the first Ronald McDonald. Call it comedy, call it gimmcky... Willard did it all.
My favorite was when he dressed up as a ground hog for Ground Hog Day and came out of a manhole near the White House and took off running.
At the peak of his career, Willard was doing commercials for such companies as....
Florida Orange Juice
True Value Hardware
He was getting paid $10,000 a speech and was making plenty of them.
Everyone loved Willard.
I got to work with Willard several times as host of the Pegasus Parade.
A lengthy lunch at Lilly's was his afternoon agenda on Parade Day and then he would show up at the TV ready to do the parade.
You could always hear Willard coming down the hall with his "one liners" one right after another...non-stop. The parade was always easy to do with Willard. You would feed him a line and he was off and running. Truly one of a kind.
Willard always stayed to do the weather at Churchill Downs the next morning for Oaks Day on the Today Show.
In recent years, Willard was on the Today Show a couple times a week wishing people 100 years old or older a Happy Birthday. That was a segment he started many years ago.
Now at the age of 81, a true legend has retired. Below is a video from the Today Show this morning showing some of the highlights of his career. Her certainly is different from anyone else and I mean that in a good way. We will miss you Willard.