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Ronald McDonaldRonald McDonald - Clown mascot for the worldwide chain of McDonald's fast-food hamburger restaurants. Wearing striped shirt and socks encased in a baggy one piece zip up suit, the red-haired Ronald McDonald lives in the fantasy world of McDonaldland where French fries grew on bushes and hamburgers actually talk.

Ronald McDonald first appeared in 1963 in local Washington, D.C. franchise. The first Ronald McDonald didn't talk because he had a heavy Russian accent. Willard Scott, the plump, balding meteorologist on NBC's THE TODAY SHOW played Ronald for a time in his early career from 1963-1966.

According to an exclusive interview in the National Enquirer (1-14-92) Willard Scott said "I created Ronald McDonald...I gave him life. I came up with his name and his personality-he was my idea. I did public appearances as Ronald in the Washington, D.C., area and even did commercials locally." Scott was absolutely crushed, however, when McDonald's took his creation nationally and hired a slimmer clown from Ringling Brothers for the role.

One of the most popular Ronald's was actor King Moody who was hired by the Needham, Harper, Steers Agency in 1970 to be the mascot for McDonald's golden arches. Other actors to portray Ronald were Bob Brandon, Geoffrey Giuliano and Joe Maggard.

WIllard Scott as Ronald McDonald in the 1970s
Willard Scott as Ronald McDonald

Geoffrey Guliano, one of McDonald's Ronalds in the late 1970s, admitted on a 1991 installment of the on-air magazine A CURRENT AFFAIR that he no longer wanted to "participate in the violence and bloodshed of innocent animals." His association with the religion of Hinduism (who held cows sacred) and his attempt to atone for his actions inspired him to open a ten-acre cow protection facility (a Dama Shala) with the hopes of keeping some cows from the beef-hungry jaws of America. Instead of billions served...he wanted billions saved.

He concluded "I was the personification of the meat eating for the planet. I am guilty as charged. If I can save one cow from your table, my mission will be accomplished." Earlier in his acting career, Mr. Guilliano was crowned the mascot for Burger King, "the marvelous magical Burger King who can do most anything."

TRIVIA NOTE: The McDonald's theme '"My Favorite Clown" was composed by Barry Klein in 1963. The McDonald's standard advertising slogan "You deserve a break McDonald's" was created in 1970.

The site of the original McDonald's drive-in restaurant (first franchised on April 15, 1955) and museum is located in Des Plaines, Illinois at 400 North Lee in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

An offshoot of the Ronald McDonald phenomenon are The Ronald McDonald Houses, structures built next to hospitals all around the country so the families of young patients with long convalescence's can be together.

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