Most fans of fast food know Colonel Sanders as a cell-shaded silhouette on a red billboard, a neat-looking elderly man with a trim goatee and a string tie.
But there’s a lot more to the person who founded Kentucky Fried Chicken (or KFC, as it’s known today) than just the public image.
For instance, though he was in the military, his title was honorific, bestowed upon him by Governor Lawrence Wetherby of Kentucky in 1950.
What’s more, his first fried-chicken restaurant was actually in Utah, and when he was running a gas station in the 1930s, he was involved in a fatal shootout with a competitor.
Pretty colorful stuff, but today the long-deceased Colonel is making headlines for entirely different reasons: He’s being portrayed in a television commercial by a famous country singer — a famous female country singer.
The spot opens with a shot of a neon-lit saloon. A suspiciously thin on-stage Sanders strikes a high, soaring note and turns toward the camera, revealing a finely featured, blue-eyed face.
“I’m Colonel Sanders, the same as always,” he sings. “Absolutely nothing’s changed!
“Please ignore any likeness to famous country singers. I’m definitely not a woman.”
The ad quickly ramps up the silliness with gawking bar patrons, violent swing dancing, and a posse of choreographed police officers.
However, the identity of the new Colonel is quickly revealed when “he” throws his hat to a patron in the front rows who happens to be Reba McEntire.
The Grammy-winning McEntire is best known for her tuneful, chart-topping singles. In fact, she’s been crooning tunes since 1976, but she has also acted in a number of films, including “Tremors” and “One Night at McCool’s.”
Perhaps her appearances on the silver screen are what convinced her to try her hand at becoming the legendary Colonel.
No matter the reason, she seemed thrilled about the opportunity when speaking with the Associated Press.
“I said, ‘Holy smokes!’ KFC has been a part of my life forever.”
McEntire may have enjoyed the Colonel’s original recipe for year after year, yet she represents a first for the fast-food chain.
Out of the 11 different people that have portrayed Sanders, which include notables such as Rob Lowe, George Hamilton, and Ray Liotta, she is the first woman to do so.
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