Ronald McDonald is a clown character used as the primary mascot of the McDonald's fast-food restaurant chain. In television commercials, the clown inhabits a fantasy world called McDonaldland, and has adventures with his friends Mayor McCheese, the Hamburglar, Grimace, Birdie the Early Bird, and The Fry Kids. In recent years, McDonaldland has been largely phased out, and Ronald is instead shown interacting with normal kids in their everyday lives.
Many people work full-time making appearances in the Ronald McDonald costume, visiting children in hospitals. There are also Ronald McDonald Houses, where parents can stay overnight when visiting sick children in nearby chronic care facilities. Since August 2003, McDonald has been officially styled as the "Chief Happiness Officer" of the McDonald's Corporation.
The origin of Ronald McDonald involves Willard Scott (a local radio personality who also played Bozo the Clown on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. from 1959 until 1962), who performed using the moniker "Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown" in 1963 on three separate television spots. These were the first three television ads featuring the character.