Sunday, September 5, 2021

Origin of a classic: The debut of Ronald McDonald (1963)

 In a sense, there's a certain amount of kinship between fast food icon Ronald McDonald and ye scribe. We were both "born" the same year, 1963, thousands of miles apart.

Ronald made his debut in a 3 minute video produced in 1963 in Washington, DC. Local TV personality Willard Scott, later of The Today Show, was a year removed from a stint as Bozo the Clown in the DC market, and, after seeing how there was some sort of connection between "The World's Most Famous Clown", as Bozo was billed, and fast food, Scott, so the story goes, developed the Ronald McDonald character. What you're about to see is that 3 minute video with a prototype costume.

The more definitive Ronald costume was introduced, designed by another party, two years later at the Macy's Thanksgiving parade in New York. Scott eventually gave up the gig, and debuted on Today a few years later. Among the actors to don the red & yellow wig & costume was Squire Fridell, who more famously was a pitchman for Toyota after Rosetti & Ryan tanked in the mid-70's.

We bring this forward in memory of Scott, 87, who passed away Saturday. Rest in peace.

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