Harland David Sanders
Harland David Sanders

September 9, 1890December 16, 1980 (90 years old)
Hometown: Henryville, IN
September 9, 1890December 16, 1980
(90 years old) | Henryville, IN


Fast food entrepreneur. Born Harland Sanders on September 9, 1890 in Henryville, Indiana. After his father died when he was six, Sanders became responsible for feeding and taking care of his younger brother and sister. From the age of 10, he held down numerous jobs, including farmer, streetcar conductor, railroad fireman and insurance salesman.

At age 40, Sanders was running a service station in Kentucky where he would also feed hungry travelers. He eventually moved his operation to a restaurant across the street, and featured a fried chicken so notable that Sanders was named a Kentucky Colonel in 1935 by Governor Ruby Laffoon.

After closing the restaurant in 1952, Sanders devoted himself to franchising his chicken business. He traveled across the country, cooking batches of chicken from restaurant to restaurant, striking deals that paid him a nickel for every chicken the restaurant sold. In 1964, with more than 600 franchised outlets, he sold his interest in the company for $2 million to a group of investors.

Kentucky Fried Chicken went public in 1966 and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1969. More than 3,500 franchised and company-owned restaurants were in worldwide operation when Heublein Inc. acquired KFC Corporation in 1971for $285 million. Kentucky Fried Chicken became a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds Industries, Inc. (now RJR Nabisco, Inc.), when Heublein Inc. was acquired by Reynolds in 1982. KFC was acquired in October 1986 from RJR Nabisco, Inc. by PepsiCo, Inc., for approximately $840 million.

Sanders continued to visit the KFC restaurants around the world as a spokesman until he died in 1980 of leukemia at the age of 90.