The Life and Times of Ronald McDonald

"The people who run McDonald's don't actually eat
at the place, they leave that to the kids"

"I want to apologize for participating in helping to brainwash North America's young people into doing something that I now know to be contrary to the purpose of life." For two years Geoffrey Giuliano played Ronald McDonald for Mcdonald's of Canada. Prior to this he also appeared as the Marvellous Magical Burger King. Life as a corporate clown was comfortable with a 50,000 dollar yearly salary, chauffeur driven car and penthouse office with a personal secretary. Initiation into the Hindu religion and increasingly strong vegetarian convictions led Giuliano to quit the job.

Born in Rochester, New York in 1953, Giuliano acted in minor roles as a child and later, as a member of Equity, appeared in theatres in Great Britian and the USA. On graduation from New York State University in 1978 with a masters degree in acting, he was forced to take the only work available - Playing the Marvellous Magical Burger King to support his family and to pay back crippling student loans. "All Burger Kings sit around the camp fire at night and dream of being Ronald McDonalds."

There are many Ronald McDonalds around the world, visiting stores and hospitals, entertaining children, appearing on TV and masquerading as child safety advocates as part of the `Ronald McDonald Appearance Program.' Geoffrey Giuliano joined their ranks in 1980, hired by a Canadian advertising company in Toronto. "They are very particular who they hire. What if you were a child molester, drug addict or even - God forbid - a vegetarian." He had been a vegetarian since 1972 but kept this a secret from his employers. Although he loved working with children, Giuliano quit after two years; "I was doing a saftey show for kids when I found a memo that said `The purpose of the Ronald McDonald Safety Show is to increase awareness of McDonald's goods, services and products.'" After being given a golden handshake, McDonald's said he was just not `McDonaldized enough.'

Ten years later, watching TV, he saw an anti-smoking advert starring the ex-Marlbooro Man. The actor had severe lung disease as a result of smoking and is now campaigning against the industry which employed him for years. Inspired by this, Giuliano hopes to create a new, not-for-profit character promoting non-violent vegetarian values and to document his experiences in a book to be titled `Confessions of a Corporate Clown.'

Thanks to Hinduism Today for providing the source materials for this article. The article is based on an interview in 1990.