Born Shelby Shuck, she hailed from Washington State, graduating from Seattle’s Franklin High School, then earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington’s School of Communications in 1957.
She began her professional career as traffic manager for KIRO-TV and radio in Seattle, before becoming an on-air reporter, writer, film editor and documentary producer for the station. In 1965, she was hired by Boston CBS affiliate WBZ, spending many years as both an anchor and general assignment reporter. She co-anchored WBZ’s Channel 4 News at Noon for 14 years, its 5:30 News for five years and became part of its first female anchor team there in 1977, with Gail Harris.
She stayed behind the anchor’s desk until the mid-1980s, returning to the field as a reporter, where she was assigned to cover the Massachusetts State House. She left her mark in the minds of a generation of New Englanders in the ’80s and ’90s, braving the elements to cover storms while appearing in her signature wool cap. She was known to report snowfall totals by using her height as a marker and eventually the Boston Globe measured snow totals by “Shelbys” instead of feet. After her 1996 retirement, she continued to freelance whenever a major storm came to town.
Scott was elected to AFTRA’s national board in 1981 and was elected national president in 1993, after serving as a national first vice president and president of the Boston Local. In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters. She led AFTRA through its first attempted merger with Screen Actors Guild in 1998 — 99, and through numerous major contract negotiations, including the AFTRA Network and Sound Recordings codes.
After her presidential term ended in 2001, Scott remained in board service, serving again as a national vice president. She also served as the union co-chair to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Fund’s Board of Trustees and as the president of the AFTRA Foundation. During her term as AFTRA Foundation president, she helped set up the Superstorm Sandy Relief Fund in 2012 to help all SAG-AFTRA members and staff affected by the storm.
Over the course of her broadcasting career, she was awarded United Press International’s Tom Phillips Citation for Excellence in Broadcasting, the William F. Horner Jr. Award from Suffolk University for Excellence in Journalism, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Notre Dame College in New Hampshire and was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2008. For her devoted service to the union, Scott was awarded AFTRA’s George Heller Memorial Gold Card No. 42 at the 2009 AFTRA National Convention in San Francisco.