Ronald McDonald is a clown used in advertising for the chain of McDonalds restaurants. He was not originally part of the program at the hamburger restaurant but in 1963 Willard Scott was hired to be a clown in advertising. Being a naturally clownish fellow, Willard Scott was successful in making a big splash with this new line of advertising that made McDonalds into a major player in the up and coming world of fast food dining.
McDonalds opened its first store in Des Plaines in 1955 but Ronald was not there for the opening because he would not be born for 8 years even though he wasn't a baby when he started because he is a character not a real person. Later in the 1960s and into the 1970s other McDonalds characters would be created like Grimace, Mayor McCheese and the Hamburgler. This made McDonalds more than a hamburger stand it was a place kids loved to go because of the lovable characters. The appeal to children was a stroke of marketing genius for Ray Kroc and McDonalds. To this day kids want McDonalds almost as much as they want ice cream.
Ronald McDonald branched out into charity work in 1974 when the first Ronald McDonald House opened. This was where the families of terminally ill children could stay to be close by their kids while they were receiving treatment. Ronald cares about kids and that was also a big part of his appeal.
I remember in the 1970s I went to a lot of Ronald McDonald shows. He used to tour with his friends and do magic and puppet shows in the parking lots of McDonalds restaurants. It was a lot of fun but he doesn't seem to come around much anymore. His show had good clean wholesome fun and the jokes were pretty good.