Maurice McDonald Biography

(Co-founder of McDonald's)

Birthday: November 26, 1902 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Manchester, New Hampshire, United States

American entrepreneur and restaurateur Maurice McDonald teamed up with his brother, Richard McDonald, to launch the ground-breaking fast food company McDonald's. After launching the first McDonald's restaurant in San Bernardino, California, in 1940, the brothers introduced the assembly-line production of fast food in their restaurant and removed waiters and waitresses, creating the Speedee Service System and reducing wait time significantly. The concept was well-liked by customers. They were thus the forefathers of the modern “fast food” system. In-spite of facing major legal challenges for promoting fat-inducing food, Maurice and Richard continued to make profits from their food business. They made their business associate Ray Kroc their sole franchise agent in 1954 and sold off their company name and rights to Kroc in 1961. However, prior to that, the brothers had contributed immensely to the economy of the US, building a food empire that also employed scores of Americans.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: The McDonald Brothers

Died At Age: 69


Spouse/Ex-: Dorothy Carter

father: Patrick James

mother: Margarete Anna Curran McDonald

siblings: Richard McDonald

Born Country: United States

American Men American Entrepreneurs

Died on: December 11, 1971

place of death: Palm Springs, California, United States

U.S. State: New Hampshire

Cause of Death: Heart Failure

Childhood & Early Life

Maurice “Mac” McDonald was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, US, on November 26, 1902, to Irish immigrant parents, Patrick James and Margarete Anna Curran McDonald. Maurice’s parents had moved to the US as children.

Maurice’s younger brother, Richard “Dick” McDonald, was born on February 16, 1909. Maurice also had 3 sisters.

Maurice studied in a town school for 6 years, after which he joined a city school of science for his secondary studies. He quit studies in 1917 and did not earn any professional degree.

He and his family moved to California in the 1920s. In 1937, his father, Patrick, launched a hot dog stall in Monrovia, to serve customers at a local racetrack. However, the stand failed to draw customers after the racing season ended.

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In the early 1940s, Maurice McDonald worked as an electrician at the Paramount studios in California. He also owned a theater for a while, before switching to making burgers.

When Maurice wished to open a restaurant bigger than their hot dog stand, several banks declined to loan the brothers the money they needed for the venture. Bank of America eventually approved a loan.

He and his brother, Richard, launched the first McDonald’s restaurant in 1940, in San Bernardino, California, with a capital of $5,000. It was initially a drive-in with a wide range of food items.

In 1948, the McDonald brothers decided to modify their business. They renovated their restaurant for 3 months and launched a new McDonald’s, that was able to produce large quantities of food at low prices. They introduced a limited menu, focusing on hamburgers, potato chips (later French fries), beverages, and pie.

They named their system the Speedee Service System (now known as “fast food”). They added a self-service counter and removed all waiters and waitresses.

Since the hamburgers were pre-cooked, wrapped, and heated under heat lamps, the entire process reduced wait time from 20 minutes to 30 seconds. The innovations they introduced allowed them to price their basic hamburger at just 15 cents, which was about half the price charged at other restaurants.

Maurice and Richard also consulted with Californian architect Stanley Clark Meston before designing the company's logo, which showed two separate golden arches. The arches were later joined, as they resembled the letter “M.” Richard created the "Millions Served" sign, too.

McDonald’s was a hit with customers, and this motivated the brothers to launch a franchise program. They launched outlets in places such as Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles; Sacramento; and Downey, California.

While they initially only franchised the system and not the name of their restaurant, they later franchised the entire concept, with a standard restaurant design. All the outlets had the signature tall golden arch as their brand logo that soon became recognizable.

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Maurice and Richard thus also provided employment to scores of people across the US. At one point, 1 in every 8 workers in the US was employed by McDonald's.

The brothers, however, were also criticized for making fat-inducing food. A documentary by US filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, named Super Size Me, showed how he had gained over 11kg and recorded an increase in cholesterol levels after consuming only McDonald's food for a month. Subsequently, the brothers faced a lot of lawsuits, but that did not deter their spirits or their business.

The brothers purchased the appliances for McDonald’s from Ray Kroc, who worked as a milkshake mixer salesman for Prince Castle. Kroc was amazed when the brothers ordered 8 shake mixers. In 1954, Kroc visited the restaurant to see how an eatery that small was able to sell milk shakes in such a huge quantity using an assembly-line format.

Kroc found the restaurant promising and became a franchise agent for the McDonald brothers, deciding to start a drive-in restaurant chain. In April 1955, Kroc started McDonald’s Systems, Inc. (which later came to be known as McDonald’s Corporation) in Des Plaines, Illinois. He had apparently received exclusive rights to start a McDonald’s franchise.

The McDonald brothers initially wished to maintain a few restaurants. However, this idea conflicted with Kroc's business goals. In 1961, Kroc purchased the company name and rights of McDonald’s and its “Speedee Service System” for $2.7 million. Kroc later expanded the brand globally.

Personal Life

Maurice McDonald married Dorothy Carter on January 23, 1965, just 6 years before his death. He had 2 step-sons through her: David Carter, who had been a major at the Marine Corps, and Jack Carter, who lived in Chicago.

Death & Legacy

Maurice McDonald died from a heart attack on December 11, 1971, in Riverside, California, US, at the age of 69.

He remains buried at the Desert Memorial Park, in California’s Cathedral City. His wife, Dorothy, passed away on January 10, 1999. She was buried beside him.

The 2016 biopic on Ray Croc, The Founder, had actor John Carroll Lynch playing Maurice McDonald. The first McDonald's is now owned by Albert Okura and has been turned into a museum.


The McDonald brothers had tied up with the Royal family of England, too. The Crown Estate of Queen Elizabeth II owned a McDonald's at Bath Road Retail Park near London’s Buckingham Palace.

The Big Mac Index, named after the Big Mac burger, was the result of a 1986 survey by The Economist. It is an economy index used to compare the currencies of various countries.

The McDonald brothers had a significant role in the agro-economic boost in Mexico, as McDonald’s once imported 75% of Mexico’s sesame seed produce for its hamburgers.

See the events in life of Maurice McDonald in Chronological Order

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