Introduction
All Entries
Soccer
Marching Bands
The Nutcracker Suite
Girl Scout Cookies
Meetings
Apple Pie
Parades
Information
William Gibson Bibliography
Information
Space Films Before 1950
What Is an Animated Movie?
2001: A Space Odyssey
St. Elsewhere
Information
Space Films Before 1950
Men into Space
Information
The Endless Frontier
The Long Ellipse
The Struggle in Space
Building a Space Station
1999 Eaton Volume
Science Fiction and the Prediction of the Future
Eaton Conference History
Technocracy and Plutocracy
Inside the Eaton Collection
Eaton Links
Information
Quoted Authors
Popular Topics
The Future
Unverified Quotations
Radio Interview
Information
Heroes
Cosmic Engineers
The Mechanics of Wonder
Science Fiction, Children's Literature, and Popular Culture
Hugo Gernsback
Frank McConnell Book
Superladies in Waiting: Part 1
Superladies in Waiting: Part 2
Superladies in Waiting: Part 3
Who Governs Science Fiction?
Arguing with Idiots
H.G. Wells
Chris Foss
The Sky Is Appalling
A Modem Utopia
Big Dumb Opticals
What Science Fiction Leaves Out of the Future (4 Parts)
Part 1: No News is Good News?
Part 2: The Day After Tomorrow
Part 3: All Work and No Play
Part 4: No Bark and No Bite
How to Make Big Money
Earth Abides
J.G. Ballard
Men into Space
Full Spectrum 4
Hugo Gernsback
The Norton Book of Science Fiction
Nemesis
Writings of Passage
Realm of the Enchanted Unicorn
Batman
Captain Marvel
Definitions of Science Fiction
Field of Dreams
The Incredible Hulk
Interactive Fantasy
Mario Brothers
Ali Mirdrekvandi
Ronald McDonald
"SF"
Series Fiction
Superman
Wonder Woman
Radio Interview (Quotations)
Radio Interview (Gernsback) (MP3 file)
Time Travel Inverview
Homo aspergerus Interview
Robots Interview
America's Second Marshall Plan
A Review of The Little Book of Coaching
My Life as a Court Jester
My Wedding Toast
Westfahl at Wikipedia
Westfahl in the SFE
Westfahl Entry
Westfahl Links
Ronald McDonald
As the story goes, a group of advertising executives were sitting around in the 1960s, struggling to devise some way to sell McDonald's hamburgers to children. To relieve the tension, one of them told a joke: "I know! Let's do Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger Clown!" After further discussion, they returned to the idea and began to take it seriously. And so, A Legend Was Born.

In innumerable television COMMERCIALS, COMIC BOOKS, and promotional materials, RM has emerged as the gentle overseer of a brightly colored but dismally unimaginative fantasy world, featuring various characters—such as an anthropomorphic hamburger named Mister Mayor, the ineffectually larcenous Hamburglar, talking Chicken McNuggets, and walking mops known as the Fry Kids—designed to remind children of McDonald's food. The clown's adventures, such as they are, typically involve overcoming some trivial obstacle to arrive safely at McDonald's to have lunch. At times, RM displays — ineptly — various MAGICAL powers (his recent theme song is the Lovin' Spoonful classic, "Do You Believe in Magic?"); his one consistent attribute is the ability to move his fingers in the air and materialize a stylized yellow "M" (for McDonald's, of course).

Why bother to discuss such a threadbare and exploitative creation in this volume? For one thing, because McDonald's literally makes dozens of commercials every year featuring the character, RM possibly qualifies as the most frequently and lengthily depicted fantasy character on film. He has undoubtedly made his mark on the American psyche: in surveys of American children, RM is consistently the second most well-known personality, having long ago surpassed the EASTER BUNNY and now closing in on SANTA CLAUS. RM briefly starred in four issues of his own Charlton comic (1970-1971); McDonald's has plastered his name on several worthwhile projects, including the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities and the Ronald McDonald Houses, temporary homes near hospitals for parents of sick children; and recent commercials often make no efforts to connect the clown with food, instead depicting him simply as a wonderful magical playmate for children. There are other signs that he may move beyond the role of commercial spokesman: in a television special for children, RM appeared as host and storyteller, with nary a hamburger in sight. If this progress to respectability continues, RM may become yet another American figure to evolve from joke to icon.

In Clifford D. Simak's Out of Their Minds (1970), a novel which posits that all fictional characters come to life in their own separate world, the DEVIL visits the President of the United States and complains about the low quality of recent additions to his realm: "Once, our land was peopled by a hardy folk, some of them honestly good and some of them as honestly evil .... But now what have we got? .... We have Li'l Abner and Charley Brown [sic] and Pogo. We have Little Orphan Annie and Dagwood Bumstead and the Bobbsey Twins, Horatio Alger, Mr. Magoo, Tinkerbell, Mickey Mouse, Howdy Doody .... They have no character. They have no flavor nor any style. They are vapid things." What would he have said about Ronald McDonald?

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2014 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art