Grandson of McDonald’s founder sees film on restaurant chain

Michael Keaton, center, in a scene from "The Founder," which opens nationwide on Friday.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Growing up, Jason French of Wilbraham said he does not recall his grandfather, Dick McDonald, talking too much about Ray Kroc, the legendary CEO of McDonald’s Corp.

“I remember him saying once, when I was a teenager, ‘That guy really got me,'” French said. “My grandfather invented the fast food business. Kroc turned it into what it is now.”

Dick and brother Maurice (“Mac”) McDonald, launched McDonald’s, a drive-in restaurant in the late 1940s in San Bernardino, California, built on the concept of turning out orders quickly at an affordable price. Their success caught the eye of salesman Kroc, who joined them in 1952. But nine years later, Kroc bought out the brothers for $2.7 million after they voiced concern that the chain’s rapid expansion was at the expense of quality. (Kroc later reneged on a handshake deal to pay the brothers a percentage of the revenue from the franchises.)

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The story of Kroc and the McDonald brothers is recalled in “The Founder,” a new movie which opens nationwide on Friday.

A registered nurse at Baystate Medical Center, French and his younger brother, Corey, were approached five years ago by producer Don Handfield, who wanted to make a movie about the birth of the fast food giant.

French and his brother, who resides in Japan, attended the premiere in Los Angeles last week. He said he was impressed with the film and the portrayals of Kroc (Michael Keaton) and Dick and “Mac” McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch).

“They took a little creative license, but they stuck very close to the story,” French said. “(Offerman and Lynch) were spot on. They conveyed the charismatic New Englanders that they were.”

Dick McDonald returned to his native New Hampshire in the late 1960s. He remained there with his wife until his death in 1998 at the age of 89. (His stepson, Col. Gale French, was a noted Air Force pilot stationed at Hanscom AFB and later Westover.)

“Mac” McDonald died in 1971— 10 years before Kroc. Dick McDonald, the man who conceived the iconic Golden Arches, eventually renewed his bond with the company he founded.

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The fast food giant, now available in 36,000 locations worldwide, once said of the men who built it: “Dick and ‘Mac’ were the pioneers of McDonald’s and helped to found the fast-food industry. Kroc was the entrepreneur who founded what today is known as McDonald’s Corporation.”

French hopes that the movie will educate the public on the brothers behind McDonald’s.

“I want people to know Ray Kroc is not ‘the founder’ of McDonald’s or fast food,” French said. “It was my grandfather and his brother… Ray Kroc took an idea someone else had come up with.”

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Information from: The Springfield (Mass.) Republican, http://www.masslive.com/news/