Date of Birth
9 September 1890, Henryville, Indiana, USA
Date of Death
16 December 1980, Shelbyville, Kentucky, USA (cancer)
Harland David Sanders
Claudia Ledington (18 November 1948 - 16 December 1980) (his death)
Josephine King (1909 - 1947) (divorced) 3 children
Founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (now "KFC") restaurant chain.
Before he started his restaurant chain, he drove across the country offering his fried chicken recipe to restaurants, in exchange for royalites for each dish sold. He had over 3,000 rejections before his first sale.
His "secret recipe" included what he described as 11 commonly available herbs and spices, but the main facet of the cooking process was a modified pressure cooker in which the chicken was fried.
One of his district managers was Dave Thomas, who later left Kentucky Fried Chicken and founded Wendy's. When Sanders died, Thomas ordered that flags in front of all Wendy's restaurants be flown at half-staff.
Appeared in several B-movies, mostly walk-on appearances as himself, in exchange for free fried chicken to the film crew.
Despite the fact that he has long since died, his image is still being used to sell fried chicken at KFC, albeit as an animated mascot.
On an airplane flight to a gig, drummer Greg Dewey (of Country Joe and the Fish) found himself seated next to "The Colonel". He asked Sanders how he felt about the hippies. The Colonel reflected for a moment and replied, "They eat fried chicken, don't they"?.
Was once spoofed by Dave Thomas the actor on "SCTV" (1976), in the skit "Give 'Em Hell, Harlan!", which was a sendup of the film Give 'em Hell, Harry! (1975).
The voice of the animated "Col. Sanders" in the new KFC commercials is provided by Randy Quaid.
Due to Sanders' "Kentucky Colonel" style of dress being associated southern plantations and therefore slavery, an urban legend cropped up that Sanders willed 10% of his company's profits to the Ku Klux Klan. This rumor has been debunked due to the information that he had given over control of the company to investors in 1964 but remained as spokesman.
Appeared as a guest on "I've Got a Secret" (1952).
Franchise in Canada, esp. Quebec known as Poulet Frit Kentucky (PFK).
Mentioned specifically in the lyrics of "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1996 song "Everything You Know is Wrong", "Bad Hair Day" album.
Of all the owners that have done KFC commercials since his death, one of the most memorable was Russel Beeler of "Lake Edna, KY" who still used the "We do chicken right!" slogan from 1995-98.
Sanders' first KFC in Canada opened in Calgary, Alberta, circa 1953.
His likeness often appeared in tattoo parlors featured in issues of Skin & Ink Magazine.
Lied about his age and joined the army at 16. He got sick and was discharged long before reaching the rank of Colonel.