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Ronald McDonald

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Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald, McDonald's "Chief Happiness Officer".
Vital Information
Species: Human
Gender: Male
Hair Color: Bright Red
"Chief Happiness Officer", Offical Mascot, and Chief media pitchperson/ambassador for McDonald's restaurants
Character information
Appeared in: Has appeared in many TV/print ads for McDonald's since 1965

Ronald McDonald is a clown character used as the primary mascot and, as of 2003, Chief Happiness Officer of the McDonald's all-American restaurant chain. He likes baseball, golf and is as American as Apple Pie. In television commercials, the American mascot inhabits a fantasy world called McDonaldland, and has adventures with his friends Grimace, the Hamburglar, Birdie the Early Bird, Mayor McCheese, and The Fry Kids. He was first portrayed on television by Willard Scott and various actors afterwards.


The origin of Ronald McDonald involves Willard Scott (at the time, a local radio personality who also played Bozo the Clown from 1959 until 1962), who performed using the name</span> "Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown" in 1963 on three separate television spots. These were the first three television ads featuring the character.

There have been online disputes over Ronald McDonald's original origins with several people claming stories other than Willard Scott's which has a proven reliable source. They started in the late 2000's on several websites.

Willard Scott (a local radio personality who also played Bozo the Clown on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. 


Image of Ronald McDonald (center) with the Hamburglar (left), Grimace (right), and Birdie the Early Bird (far right).

from 1959 until 1962), performed using the moniker "Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown" in 1963 on three separate television spots. These were the first three television ads featuring the character.

Scott, who went on to become NBC-TV's Today Show weatherman, claims to have "created Ronald McDonald" according to the following excerpt from his book Joy of Living:

“At the time, Bozo was the hottest children's show on the air. You could probably have sent Pluto the Dog or Dumbo the Elephant over and it would have been equally as successful. But I was there, and I was Bozo... There was something about the combination of hamburgers and Bozo that was irresistible to kids... That's why when Bozo went off the air a few years later, the local McDonald's people asked me to come up with a new character to take Bozo's place. So, I sat down and created Ronald McDonald.”

Actor History

See Also: Actors who have played Ronald McDonald

Following is a list of Ronalds in the United States.

Various forms of the name "Ronald McDonald" as well as costume clown face persona, etc. are registered trademarks of McDonald's. McDonald's trains performers to portray Ronald using identical mannerisms and costume, to contribute to the illusion that they are one character.

McDonald's marketing designers and stylists changed elements of the Ronald McDonald character, persona, style, costume and clown face when they adopted the clown as a trademark, possibly in deference to "The Code", the tradition of clowns to scrupulously avoid copying other clowns' appearance or performance style.

Retirement Attempts

In 2010, the Corporate Accountability International in Boston, Massachusetts suggested that the Ronald McDonald should be retired due to childhood obesity in the United States, however then McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner said there are no plans to retire Ronald McDonald.

On May 18, 2011, Corporate Accountability International renewed their call to retire Ronald McDonald, by running ads in major newspapers and launching several web pages dedicated to the retirement of the character. However McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner defended Ronald McDonald by saying that he is an ambassador for good and "it's all about choice".

Shortly after McDonald's Website News Statements announced that Ronald McDonald is here to stay. In 2014, McDonalds new CEO Don Thompson has said that Ronald McDonald does not encourage kids to eat unhealthy foods. He stated Ronald McDonald only spreads joy and smiles. The Corporate Accountability International has failed to retire him due to the fact that he is a national icon and he has been around for half a century.


Ronald McDonald's look has changed over the years, but his notable look is him wearing yellow clothes, a red and white striped shirt, yellow gloves, and red clown shoes with yellow laces. His face is white, with red hair and a big re smile; all in all, his appearance matches the colors of McDonald's.

In 1963, his first look had him portrayed with spaghetti-like hair in a red and yellow striped suit, with a tray of a hamburger, fries, and milkshake, which he wore as a hat and around his waist.

Jumpsuit Look (1965-2014)

Willard clown 33

Willard Scott appears as Ronald McDonald in a television commercial in 1971. He is seen wearing the jumpsuit outfit that would define the character for many years.

In 1965, with the addition of McDonaldland coming into advertising in 1971, Ronald got a major makeover, with a look that would last for more than 40 years (with varying subtle changes, occurring mostly in the 2000s), it being him wearing a yellow jumpsuit and white collar, complete with red and white striped shirt, yellow gloves, red shoes, red hair, white makeup and a big red smile. The suit had two french fry bags for pockets, with a small one on the heart of the suit, all which read "McDonald's".

In 1998, VHS tapes of The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald were released showing a new look of Ronald's jumpsuit that would become permanent for the next decade: His french fry pockets were replaced with red seamed pockets, the heart patch was replaced with a red circle with a golden arch "M", the stripes on the shirt were now thicker, and the back of the suit now read "Ronald" almost like a sports jersey with red rear pockets (all those features on the back of the suit would subsequently be removed in 2000). This would be his look from 2000-2014. By this time, McDonaldland had been phased out of the small screen and Ronald McDonald would interact with children, usually in sports and healthy activities.

New Look (2014-present)


Ronald McDonald's new revamped look as of 2014.

In April 2014, McDonald's announced that Ronald McDonald will have a whole new look and new outfits. They also announced that he will be back in their new commercials as well as on social media sites like Twitter. As part of Ronald's makeover, his jumpsuit has been dropped in favor of yellow cargo pants, a vest and a red-and-white striped rugby shirt. His classic clown shoes remain part of the official uniform.

Commercial Presence

see also: McDonaldland

In addition to the early commercials starring Willard Scott, Ronald has appeared in a large percentage of commercials. In many of the commercials he was seen in a magical world setting called McDonaldland, home to a wide variety of menu-based characters. Unfortunately, following a lawsuit in 1979, McDonaldland was nixed and commercials were from then on set in a less fairy tale like location, still titled McDonaldland inhabited by the few characters that survived the lawsuit. Those that were affected became streamlined in the mid 1980s.

While such characters as Grimace and Hamburglar have survived past that stage, Ronald, Birdie and the Fry Kids remain a fixture in the company's commercials, now at McDonald's settings interacting with a birthday kid. Most recently they were seen on the streets of New York with talking to a birthday kid singing Happy Birthday!

Relationships with other characters

While a mascot for McDonald's, Ronald McDonald has maintained good relationships with his friends from McDonaldland, both integral and important.


Since 1971, Ronald has always been bothered by the Hamburglar's constant crave of taking McDonald's hamburgers. Though the rivalry was tiresome, Ronald always knew a way out and has foiled the Hamburglar's plans many times. But no matter what his intentions, Ronald and Hamburglar remain close friends and even show his nice side by sharing instead of taking.


Ronald &amp; Grimace

At first, Grimace, like Hamburglar, was a villain who stole McDonald's soft drinks. Ronald however, was able to outsmart his former foe and now ally by tricking him into delivering a flyer saying he has been entered into a contest, and soaking him into Filet-O-Fish Lake when he was pretending to take a picture of the purple creature.

In later years, Grimace became Ronald's friend and they have been in many adventures together since then. They have varied from chasing Fry Kids for french fries, to teasing about the Hamburglar's "touch", and even teaching Birdie learn how to fly. The friendship between both Ronald & Grimace remain very important in the clown's history.

Birdie the Early Bird

Ronald &amp; Birdie Breakfast

Ronald & Birdie eating hot pancakes together.

When Ronald first met Birdie, she was still in her egg, waiting to be hatched. Since her debut in 1980, Ronald and Birdie have remained really close friends. Notable things the two have been through together have varied: eating hot pancakes for breakfast, speeding up dinner, teaching her how to fly, and having fun.

Merchandise and Appearances at McDonald's of Commercials

First McDonald's TV Ad Ever with Willard Scott as Ronald McDonald01:01

First McDonald's TV Ad Ever with Willard Scott as Ronald McDonald

As previously stated, Ronald McDonald is one of America's most popular characters. He has been seen in various pieces of merchandise, from plush to comics. The latter with four issues published by Charlton Comics sold from 1970 to 1971.

He was the central focus along with his friends in the long running children's magazine McDonaldland Fun Times, teaching kids lessons, playing games, solving puzzles, etc.

Ronald has also been featured in a 1984 Little Golden Book with Grimace called Ronald McDonald And The Tale of the Talking Plant.

He was also shown in a cameo in the E.T. ripoff Box Office failure Mac and Me. He was even awarded a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star.

Most importantly, Ronald McDonald starred in his own direct-to-VHS animated series The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald. Produced by Klasky Csupo, it featured six forty-minute tapes released sporadically between 1998 and 2003.

Other major Ronald merchandise include the video games McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure and M.C. Kids.


Jack Doepke

To view the Ronald McDonald gallery, click here.

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