Ronald McDonald, the famous mascot of McDonald’s was created by media personality and weatherman Willard Scott. Known for being the Today Show’s centenarian birthday wisher since 1983, Scott created and played the popular red, yellow and white clown from 1963-1966 and, at times, as late as 1971. In his 1982 book The Joy of Living, he describes how he came up with the idea of the clown.
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.