Founder & Former Chairman, McDonald's Corporation

Ray Kroc was 52 years old when, in 1954, he obtained franchising rights from the McDonald brothers for their "new concept" hamburger stands in California. A salesman all his life, Kroc opened his first McDonald's in 1955, writing an indelible chapter in the history of free enterprise as his restaurants served to define the quick-service restaurant industry.

Ray Kroc's ideas on advertising and marketing paved the way not only for his success, but for the success of countless others, and helped make McDonald's the single most advertised brand in America. "I never hesitate to spend money on advertising because I can see it coming back to me with interest," he used to say.

His revolutionary approach to restaurant operations was based on the simple philosophy of quality, service, cleanliness and value, a philosophy that has taken McDonald's Corporation from a single restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, in 1955 to the largest foodservice company in the world by the time of his death, with more than 10,000 restaurants, in 50 countries serving 22 million customers a day.

Kroc recognized early that McDonald's was selling more than just food, it was selling a style of eating. Based on his principles of "Food, Folks and Fun," the company's commercials have always portrayed a look and sound that is uniquely McDonald's.

Since the beginning, Kroc believed in "giving something back" to the communities McDonald's served, and in 1974 that committment led him to participate in the dedication of the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia. Today there are 119 such houses across the United States and five in other countries.

Kroc served as chairman of McDonald's Corporation from its founding in 1955 until 1977, when he was named senior chairman on the board.