A trademark white suit and clip-on string bow-tie once belonging to Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, fast food pioneer and American corporate icon Colonel Harlan Sanders, is expected to bring $10,000 or more when it comes up for bid, June 22, as part of Heritage Auctions
' Signature® Americana & Political Auction.
"It's impossible to think of Colonel Sanders, or KFC, without thinking of this white suit," said Kathleen Guzman, a Managing Director with Heritage Auctions. "To this day, 33 years after his death, the Colonel is just as popular and recognizable as ever. In terms of Pop Culture collectibles, it doesn't get much better than this."
The suit, along with a small archive of other Col. Sanders related material, has been consigned by Mike Morris, who was given the suit by the Colonel himself and whose family was close to Sanders and his family in Sanders' final years after the Colonel bought the Morris house on a whim and lived in the family's basement for six months while he had another house built on the property for Morris family to move into.
It was 1975, Morris was 13 years old and living with his family in in Shelbyville, KY.
"The colonel was living in Louisville about 30 miles away and he wanted to move back out into the country," said Morris, who now manages a hotel near Cincinnati, OH. "He was driving around, saw our house and liked it. It wasn't even for sale."
Nonetheless, after contacting Morris' father, Colonel Sanders in his trademark white suit was soon at the front door. Morris's father, Edward, at first politely declined the offer.
"The colonel was very persistent," he added. "He said, 'It's a really neat house and I'd really like to live here.' They came to an agreement a week or so later."
By the time Colonel Sanders and his wife Claudia moved into the home, they had befriended the Morris family and the Colonel asked them to stay on the property. A home was built next door and they remained neighbors until Colonel Sanders' death in 1980. The families attended his birthday parties, watched TV together and even went to restaurants with him. Morris even recalls on Christmas morning when the Colonel came over and read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to he and his sister.
When he was a junior in high school and planning to attend a Halloween party, Morris's father suggested he go dress up as Sanders. Morris was planning to attend a high school Halloween party.
"We went to the Colonel's house and asked if it would be possible to borrow his white suit to dress up for the party," Morris said. "He said okay, but with one condition: 'When you're dressed up, come over so I can see what you look like.' He was just amazed at how I looked."
As an added bonus, the colonel had his chauffeur drive the teen into town, where he I rolled the window down just enough to stick his hand out and wave at people, who thought it was actually Colonel Sanders himself. The "costume" was also a huge hit at the party. Afterward, according to Morris, he took the suit back.
"But the colonel said, 'You did such a great job, I'd like for you to keep it,'" recalled Morris. "I've had it ever since."
Why exactly is Morris selling the suit after having it more than three decades?
"It's been in the family for so long
I don't want anything to happen to it as I get older," said Morris, 50. "If I'm going to do something, now is a good time. I'll always have very vivid memories. It was one of the most exciting times of my life."