Flamboyant restaurant millionaire dies at 64

Published 11:59 pm Sunday, March 23, 2008

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Al Copeland, who became rich selling spicy fried chicken and notorious for his flamboyant lifestyle, extravagant weddings, bitter divorces and lawsuits over Christmas decorations, died Sunday at a clinic near Munich, Germany.

Copeland, who was 64, had been diagnosed shortly before Thanksgiving with a malignant salivary gland tumor. His death was announced by his spokeswoman, Kit Wohl.

After growing up in New Orleans, Copeland sold his car at age 18 for enough money to open his own one-man doughnut shop. He quickly turned the shop into a moneymaker and went on to spend 10 modestly successful years in the doughnut business.

Email newsletter signup

The opening of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in New Orleans in 1966, however, caught Copeland’s eye, especially when he found it offered a shorter workday and about four times as much money per week as his doughnut shop.