Colonel Sanders Actors, Ranked Worst To Best

The world is full of so much weirdness, and in a year like the one we've just had, turning KFC's backstory into a steamy romance is pretty much par for the course. Sure, why not? Okay, as fast food mascot romances go, we'd really prefer to see a lot more of the Ronald McDonald/Burger King take on Romeo and Juliet, but until that movie comes out, we'll settle for A Recipe for Seduction in all its secret spiciness.

We do, however, have a few questions regarding the choice of Mario Lopez to play a young Harland Sanders. Sure, he's still just as cute as he was when he starred in the original Saved by the Bellwhich is actually kind of annoying seeing as how most of us mere mortals do tend to deteriorate a bit in a quarter century's time. It's just that he might not give off that Kentucky colonel vibe as well as certain other actors we'd like to see in the role. But then again, there has been quite a lengthy list of other Colonel Sanders impersonators, many of whom were even more unlikely candidates to play the part. Entertainment Weekly rounded up this comprehensive list of everyone who's ever donned the iconic white suit, and we, in turn, have ranked them all from worst to first.

The worst of the worst Colonel Sanders

Dead last on the list of all the Colonels is George Hamilton. Sorry, but that "extra crispy" tan...ugh, no, we just can't. Next comes Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson. While we loved The Mountain in Game of Thrones, and the two-tone facial hair looked pretty cool when he played the "Double Colonel" promoting the "Double Crispy Challenge," the reason Mr. Björnsson ranks so low on our list is that it's just so darn hard to type his name! Petty of us, but there you have it.

Sean Astin doesn't rate too high since it's hard to see a football-playing hobbit as the Colonel, and while Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser played a hot Nashville Colonel, he only actually appeared on a TV within that commercial and the whole screen-within-screen thing didn't really give him much scope to show off either his Colonel Sanders or Elvis impressions. Billy Zane's gold-plated Colonel was almost as off-putting as Hamilton's dark orange skin, and Rob Riggle...well, his Coach Sanders character was pretty funny, but he loses points for sharing a double billing with Zane in a Super Bowl spot.

The mediocre middle

While Darrell Hammond was probably the best Colonel to actually deliver a relatively accurate facsimile of the original, it turned out to be kind of creepy having an SNL impersonator doing his impression of a dead guy. Hammond evidently thought he'd be playing the Colonel on a long-term basis, but was quickly replaced by a revolving door of fellow comedians, including Norm MacDonald and Jim Gaffigan. All three did a decent job, but that whole "Who's the real Colonel" gag soon wore thin, probably because there is, or was, a real Colonel, so the company soon shifted gears to present some even more obviously fake ones.

Of these, the most un-Colonel-like, but perhaps the most entertaining, was RoboCop as a cyborg Sanders. Another unlikely candidate was Reba McEntire in drag, although at least she didn't have to fake a southern accent. Character actor Christopher Boyer was far less outlandish than either of those two, but he traded in on his forgettability factor as the "Value Colonel" promoting a $5 meal deal.

The top Colonel Sanders impersonators

While Jason Alexander is instantly recognizable as George Costanza from Seinfeld, his "Family Colonel" played off of this, appearing in an homage to '90s sitcoms. Rob Lowe, late of the Brat Pack, played heroic astronaut Mission Commander Colonel Sanders, a kind of JFK-meets-Buzz Lightyear version of the chicken pitchman. Film producer Craig Fleming was a surprising hit in his Colonel commercial, thanks in no small part to his co-star and dancing partner Mrs. Butterworth. Together the twosome did a little dirty — and no doubt sticky — dancing. It was clear they were having the time of their life...and we never felt that way before (or since).

Dolph Ziggler wore the white suit for a WWE promo where he threw down with The Miz dressed as a chicken. Ziggler actually makes a pretty plausible Colonel, and the match was good, too (though way too short). Ray Liotta chewed the scenery as a split-personality Colonel torn between Georgia Gold and Nashville Hot chicken, topping the list of Colonel contenders. Still, the very best person to ever portray the Colonel character in a KFC commercial could only be Harlan Sanders himself, who promoted his product right up until the time of his death. While the Colonel may be long gone, his secret recipe — and his many, many impersonators — will likely be with us for many years to come.