When the idea to write something about Willard Scott came up, it was with the sincerest intention to wish him a happy birthday and maybe make a joke about how he has 19 more years until he can wish himself the happiest 100th birthday on The Today Show. We thought we’d do a little research, touch on a few things he’s done in his life and probably close the article with a mention that he was the very first Ronald McDonald. Then we watched these videos and things changed.
There’s Willard Scott circa 1963-ish in a one of his very first television appearances as Ronald McDonald. For anyone not willing to burn nightmarish things into their corneas, we’ll kindly catch you up. The ad opens with a disembodied voice kindly introducing Ronald for the first time. “Where is Ronald?” you might ask. Why, he’s where every corporate mascot created to appeal to children should be: watching television alone in a dark room surrounded by stuffed animals nailed to the walls.
When asked to “meet the boys and girls,” Ronald immediately insists that we’ve already met and that we’ll become fast friends because he likes to do everything kids like to do–you know, like “eat hamburgers”! He then proceeds to do what no clown should ever do and point in the direction of his nether-regions where an inexplicable hamburger-teleporting tray has a hamburger and fries waiting for us. One can only assume, while also refusing to Google anything, that it’s at crotch level simply because heat lamps didn’t exist in the ’60s. The commercial closes how we suspect any clown’s career should end: dancing for attention in a fast food parking lot.
The dialogue in this second ad seems to suggest that, much like today, stranger danger was an issue back in the ’60s but none of that seems to matter to good ol’ Ronald.
Roller skating into frame (and our hearts), poor Ronald trips losing his over-sized food tray hat which causes a delicious burger to go flying into the hands of a hungry child. Let’s call this kid “Billy” because if old stock footage has taught us anything it’s that all children back then were named “Billy” or “Johnny”. Billy knows full well that he shouldn’t talk to strangers, but hey, free hamburgers, right?
Approaching Ronald, Billy explains exactly the thing he knows he shouldn’t be doing while simultaneously doing that thing. Ronald proves Billy’s mom right by convincing him he’s not only not a stranger but also someone Billy can trust by willing a few crotch burgers into existence again. Three burgers is proof enough for, now confident that Ronald is who he says he is, Billy is happy to run away with the clown to the nearest Arch-adorned fast food restaurant for a parking lot dance and a classic family friendly 1960s boy on man butt-push toward some more burgers. Actually, come to think of it, Billy went with him a bit too willingly and it seems he kind of was expecting to catch that burger in the first place. Oh man, Billy planned the whole thing.
Anyway, happy birthday Willard! We’ll never sleep again!
What’s your special personal brand of nightmare fuel? Any suggestions how we can scrub these videos out of our brains? Let us know in the comments!