McDonald’s is well known for its long running TV commercials featuring puppets and animatronic characters, some of which have been featured here before. Perhaps one of their most fondly remembered advertising mascots is Mac Tonight, a lounge singer with a moon shaped head that sang a jingle based on the 1950s hit Mac the Knife (usually associated with Bobby Darin, although it was first performed by Louis Armstrong) and starred in a very popular series of McDonald’s ads in the late 1980s.
Mac Tonight was famously one of the first roles played by beloved actor and suit performer Doug Jones, who performed the character in at least 27 commercials over a three year period.
Despite it’s incredible popularity, the Mac Tonight campaign abruptly ended in 1989 when the family of Bobby Darin filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s, asserting that the commercials infringed on the singer’s trademark. The campaign was later resurrected by McDonald’s in Southeast Asia in 2007 and animatronic Macs were featured in many McDonald’s restaurants for years until most were removed following the rise of a particularly disgusting racist “Moon Man” parody meme in some of the darker corners of the internet.
Defunctland produced a short history of Mac Tonight last year, which you can watch below:
One thing that isn’t clear is who exactly made Mac Tonight for the original ads in the 1980s. Although its maker doesn’t seem to be publicly known, one of the prosthetic heads used in the campaign sold for over $6,000 in a Propstore auction last year.
Via Mental Floss.