Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, McDonald was the son of John Francis McDonald and Catherine Ashlue McDonald. He was educated at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio.
McDonald's acting career began in stock theater with the Forepaugh Stock Company.
McDonald began his film career with Marion Leonard's Monopole Company in Hollywood. He made 41 film and television appearances between 1913 and 1965, appearing in films such as The Temptress in 1926 with Greta Garbo.
After he was designated "Hollywood's Prettiest Man," McDonald sought a tougher image by shaving his mustache and seeking roles of villains.
McDonald made numerous television appearances, including six episodes of The Roy Rogers Show, five episodes of Lone Ranger, and four episodes each of Broken Arrow, Sugarfoot, and Perry Mason. Among his four Perry Mason roles were as Captain Noble in the 1957 episode, "The Case of the Crooked Candle," and Salty Sims in "The Case of the Petulant Partner" (1959).
McDonald is sometimes mistakenly thought to be a brother of Wallace MacDonald because of close resemblance. However, they were both born in 1891 three months apart and spelled their surnames differently.
- Francis McDonald Filmography