Ronald McDonald Is Dead
It is Mr Michael Polakovs, who designed and acted as Ronald McDonald, right from the start. Rest in peace.
A habitual recipient of a pie in the face, Coco the Clown was a circus favorite who helped create another well-known clown, Ronald McDonald.
Michael Polakovs, who died Dec. 6 at age 86, honed his clown act for eight decades, including a lengthy stint at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Clowning was the family business — the disheveled Coco persona was inherited from his father, a lifelong clown, and Mr. Polakovs’s son Graham has performed as Coco Jr. since the 1950s.
After a three-decade career as a circus clown in England, Mr. Polakovs came to the U.S. in 1959, and performed in the center ring at Ringling Bros. He led classic clown skits and paraded around the big-top’s hippodrome on 16-foot stilts. For several years, he also worked as an advance man for Ringling Bros., appearing in local and national media to garner publicity.
When McDonald’s Corp. decided to make Ronald McDonald its national spokesman, the company turned to Mr. Polakovs for advice. He designed Ronald’s clown-face features, chose the canary-yellow jumpsuit and gave him big red shoes and striped socks to reflect the colors of the restaurant. Mr. Polakovs went on to star as Ronald in the first national series of McDonald’s commercials, in 1966.