KFC retires Rob Lowe, hires new celeb colonel

KFC has cast another unexpected celebrity to portray American food icon and brand founder Colonel Harland Sanders: Ray Liotta. The actor is best known for his 1990 role as Henry Hill in Goodfellas and is currently the star of NBC’s TV series Shades of Blue, a police drama also featuring Jennifer Lopez. Liotta will replace Rob Lowe, who was elected in April.

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Millennials might know the Colonel as a smiley caricature plastered on every bucket of “finger licking good” chicken. But for those who don’t know, the white-haired Southern gentleman was actually a real person. He was born in Indiana in 1890 but moved to Kentucky as an adult. He established a restaurant in a North Corbin, Kentucky, service station in 1930, and by 1935 the restaurant had grown so popular that Sanders was made an honorary colonel by Kentucky Governor Ruby Laffoon. Five years later, he finalized a secret recipe that became the basis for a fried-chicken empire.

Since 2015, the real-life Sanders has been portrayed in commercials by a series of actors. Liotta’s presence in the lineup of Colonels serves as a promotion for KFC’s “two authentic Southern flavors,” according to a press release. This includes “sweet and tangy” Georgia gold honey mustard barbecue chicken, and “spicy and smoky” Nashville hot chicken.

If Mount Rushmore bore the chiseled faces of celebrity Colonels past, you might see Jim Gaffigan, Billy Zane, Rob Riggle, and WWE SmackDown star Dolph Ziggler — all of them ranked in this article from Paste magazine.