The First Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald giving clowns everywhere a bad rap.


This particularly frightening image is one taken of the very first actor portrayal of fast food mascot Ronald McDonald. Created in 1963, the clown was created and portrayed by actor Willard Scott pictured here.

Sporting a cup on his nose, a carrying tray in his hands and an additional food tray as a hat, unorthodox is certainly an appropriate way of describing the character’s earliest incarnation. Scott’s Ronald was first presented to the world through a series of television ads that were very popular with children, presenting Ronald as, “The Silly Hamburger Happy Clown.” The McDonalds Company started in 1940 as a restaurant that primarily specialized in barbecue, but eventually began to focus more on selling their most popular item, hamburgers. From there, they would eventually become the most successful hamburger chain restaurant in the world. In the sixties, however, as the company was still looking for ways to broaden its appeal and grow in size and scope, they realized the best way to continuously get new customers was to target the younger demographics.

The answer seemed simple with what was popular with children at the time. Bozo was the most popular children’s program, so to capitalize on this success, they decided to put a clown of their own on television. Thus Ronald McDonald was born. With Willard Scott conceptualizing their mascot, McDonald brought in their desired fan base with more kids than ever showing up to purchase their products. Scott would go on to become the weatherman for the Today Show on NBC and Ronald McDonald would go on to become one of the most famous mascots in the entire business world.