If you live to be 100 the one thing you could look forward to for years is NBC “Today Show” personality Willard Scott reading your name during his signature centenarian birthday segment on the morning show. On Tuesday, the former “Ronald McDonald” and “Today Show” weatherman, was taping eight of those segments seaside at Saybrook Point Inn Spa, including a special one for soon-to-be-50 “Today Show’’ host Hoda Kotb. You knew the 80-year-old Scott was on the inn’s patio even before you saw him because of that distinctive voice. He was funny and gracious and entertaining as he Spilled the Beans with Java over coffee, juice and Smuckers jelly of course!
Q: How long have you been in the business and how did you get there?
A: You don’t know how lucky I have been to be in this business. I have been in it for 65 years and I think I am the oldest living employee at NBC. I started out as a page in 1950. I had done some radio before that, too. I still love radio to this day. I could still do radio if I had to. TV has become so complicated. And you know I was on kids’ shows, too. And I was the first Ronald McDonald. There’s always a Jeopardy! question on that every six months or so.
Q: What brings you here to Saybrook Point?
A: I have a place in Noank and years ago we came here for brunch. Now we come here a lot. I didn’t even know it was here. Now we come often. It’s a great crowd of people.
Q: Your birthday segment on the “Today Show” is legendary now. How did you come up with the idea?
A: Someone wrote to me when I was still doing weather and asked that I say “Happy Birthday” to their uncle who was turning 100. I did and then in a few days I got another request and another and I figured ‘Paul Harvey does this and we are kind of alike so why not?’ I now consider myself the nation’s largest clearinghouse for centenarians.
Q: Has the list of birthday wishes gotten longer over the years?
A: Obama doesn’t know what he has got a hold of with that health care. The number of people celebrating 100 years old now compared to when I started is amazing. I met a guy in Minneapolis a while ago and he was 101 and looked better than anyone in this group here.
Q: Do you think you will be wishing yourself a Happy 100th Birthday?
A: No. Big dogs don’t live forever. I’m going to pre-tape mine.
Q: When they make the made-for-tv movie about Willard Scott, who should play you?
A: There would have to be a dozen different actors playing me. And actually, I’m such an egomaniac I would probably want to play myself.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I was raised on a farm. My grandfather had a dairy farm and we would have to milk the cows in the morning and again in the evening. That’s where I learned to drive. On a Model T and we would take the back seat out to store the milk cans when we brought the milk to sale. I have a gentleman’s farm now in Virginia. I cure ham and sausage. I think my grandfather would like it.
Q: I know you are dying to say something about Smuckers. Go for it!
A: I have had three great sponsors over the years, McDonald’s, Hallmark and Smuckers. Smuckers has been my sponsor for almost 15 years. My favorite kind is raspberry. I have enough Smuckers jelly in my house to last way beyond my lifetime. And I rarely give it away.