FESS PARKER MEMORIAL - Saying Goodbye to Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone

( Fess Elisha Parker, Jr.)
August 16, 1924 – March 18, 2010

Like many of you I grew up watching Fess Parker on television. First as Davy Crockett in the fifties then as Daniel Boone in the sixties. I wanted an "Authentic Davy Crockett Coonskin Cap" so bad I could taste it! I got a Barbie Doll - my brother got the coonskin cap because "little girls don't dress up like hooligans".

I'm sure my Mother did NOT think Davy Crockett or Fess Parker were hooligans - but in the fifties a little girl who dressed up like an animal skin wearing mountain man was not going to fit in with the sexual stereotypes we were subjected to. My hero worship was limited to watching the TV shows and singing the theme songs. I don't think I missed an episode of either show and I also saw several Davy Crockett/Daniel Boone movies!

Interestingly Davy Crockett was a mini-series! It ran only from 1954 to 1955 while Daniel Boone was on the air for six years from 1964 to 1970. There were 2 Davy Crockett movies: Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955), Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956) and one Daniel Boone movie: Daniel Boone: Frontier Trail Rider (1966).

Fess Parker won the role as Davy Crockett when he showed up to audition for Walt Disney with a guitar and proceeded to sing for him. He won the role over both James Arness (Marshall Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke fame) and Buddy Ebsen (best known as Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies). Later Buddy Ebsen was hired to play Crockett's sidekick, George Russell.

You may not know this but Fess Parker was nominated for an Emmy in 1954 for Most Outstanding New Personality but lost to George Gobel. He was offered the Ambassadorship to Australia by President Reagan but turned it down. Later, after retiring from show business, he became a vintner with the Fess Parker Family Winery and Vineyards in Los Olivos, California - some of the wine labels included a reference to his days as Davy Crockett:

Fess Parker was a huge figure in my childhood years, he brought to life two legends of the American West for the entire baby boom generation and he will be missed.

One last time, let's all sing it just for Fess:

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee,
Greenest state in the land of the free.
Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree,
Kilt him a b'ar when he was only three.

Davy, Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier!



Fess Parker's Website
Fess Parker on Wikipedia
Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen talk about Davy Crockett


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