Very few fast food companies have been more aggressive in their advertising as KFC.
While Colonel Sanders has always been the face of the franchise, we’ve recently seen almost a dozen actors step forward to take the role in a very short time. There are so many Colonel Sanders now that even dads are starting to get sick of it. But which Colonel is your dad’s favorite? Here is an exhaustive list of all the actors (and the one actress) who has put on the colonel’s goatee and spotless white suit, ranked by dads.
14: Nic Nemeth
Nic Nemeth, better known as Dolph Ziggler, is a professional wrestler who portrays the colonel in ads that air exclusively during WWE wrestling matches. Dads don’t know who he is, and any attempt to try to explain the ads to him will be dismissed with a hand wave and a casual, “Wrestling is all fake, anyway.”
13: Vincent Kartheiser
Your dad does not recognize the name, and he doesn’t recognize the face, but Vincent Kartheiser was on Mad Men, which your dad loves. But he played Pete Campbell, who your dad hates. He also doesn’t really do much in his ads, he only exists as a young, dreamy Colonel in pictures. He doesn’t even talk. So he belongs at the bottom of the list.
12: Christopher Boyer
“Who?” you might be asking, and that’s the point. Boyer is a relatively unknown actor (his biggest role was probably Robert E. Lee in Lincoln, where he doesn’t say a word, he just takes off his hat in a scene) who KFC tapped to play The Value Colonel. The joke being that they didn’t have to pay him as much? He did a fine job, but dads aren’t going to get that excited about some obscure career actor in the part.
11: Randy Quaid
Randy Quaid, randomly, from 1998 to 2001 voiced an animated Colonel Sanders. He claims he got $4 million for it, but it’s hard to trust Quaid nowadays because he is extremely looney. The only reason he’s so high here is that dads liked Randy Quaid in Independence Day.
10: Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe is great. Rob Lowe as Colonel Sanders? Meh. He doesn’t even try the accent, you know?
9: George Hamilton
Hamilton plays the Extra Crispy Colonel, who is unnecessarily tan. It’s mildly disturbing. Though dads like George Hamilton, this is also a colonel representation that ended up being pretty forgettable.
8: Billy Zane
Billy Zane is always great in anything he does. Dad won’t admit it, but he absolutely saw Titanic and absolutely liked Billy Zane in that movie. That said, the “solid gold” thing here is something your dad would probably describe as “funky.”
7: Reba McEntire
Reba’s casting as the first woman’s Colonel was pretty gimmicky even for an ad campaign that’s pretty gimmicky. As much as your dad likes Reba, she’s still toward the middle of the pack.
6: Rob Riggle
We’re starting to get into the Hall of Fame Colonel Sanders here. Rob Riggle is a seasoned comedic actor and former Marine Reserve who has been in everything from Saturday Night Live to The Hangover. But your dad knows him as, “Hey look, the funny guy who does the football picks for Fox is on TV as the colonel.”
5: Jim Gaffigan
Jim Gaffigan, the ultimate dad comic, was one of the early actors tapped for the never ending revolving door casting policy that KFC has been leaning on the past few years. His colonel was still new and fresh, before the whole “new colonel every few months” thing got a bit tiresome, and considering the central role food plays in his stand up, he was a very savvy, dad-friendly choice.
4: Ray Liotta
Ray Liotta’s time as the colonel was brief, but glorious. The Goodfellas actor actually tried to sound like the colonel, unlike some of his predecessors, and the good-colonel evil-colonel was played perfectly. Of course, the main reason why he made it this high on the list was, well, Goodfellas. Dads love Goodfellas.
3: Norm Macdonald
Norm Macdonald had probably the longest stretch of commercials playing the Colonel ever, since various versions of Sanders started popping up in ads in 2015. He cranked out an impressive amount of very funny ads during his time as spokesman, and while his impression wasn’t particularly spot on, that almost made it better, since you see Macdonald’s trademark droll sarcasm seeping through.
Besides, any time you can get a job for the genius behind Dirty Jobs, you’ve got to support it.
2: Darrell Hammond
Macdonald’s fellow former-SNL castmate Darrell Hammond was actually the first actor to take up the Sanders mantle in 2015, and the famous impressionist knocked it out of the park. Casting Hammond made all the sense in the world, and his Sanders remains the closest to how the actual Colonel looked and sounded.
But imitation can never be as good as the real thing. Which is why the number 1 Colonel Sanders was…
1: The Actual Colonel Sanders
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And no one deserved that flattery more than the actual OG Colonel Sanders. If you click that video, you’ll find that no one can do the Colonel better than the Colonel, but he was very bad at playing 25 questions. But as far as a dad-approved KFC spokesperson? No one’s going to out-Colonel the Colonel.