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Remembering Fess Parker

Fess

Fess Parker became a hero to millions of young TV viewers when he debuted as frontiersman Davy Crockett on Walt Disney’s ABC series "Disneyland" in 1954.

His death Thursday at age 85 spurred many fond memories.

Statements provided by the Walt Disney Co.

"Fess Parker had an enormous impact on a whole generation of kids," said film critic and author Leonard Maltin. "It’s almost impossible to overstate how popular ‘Davy Crockett’ was, and it made him an overnight star. The nicest part about meeting him in later years was discovering that he was just as genuine and likable as he seemed on screen."

Like Maltin, Robert A. Iger, president and chief executive of the Walt Disney Co., was a  fan.

"Like many kids growing up in the '50s, Davy Crockett was my first hero, and I had the coonskin cap to prove it," said Iger. "Fess Parker’s unforgettable, exciting and admirable performance as this American icon has remained with me all these years, as it has for his millions of fans around the world. Fess is truly a Disney Legend, as is the heroic character he portrayed, and while he will certainly be missed, he will never be forgotten."

Said visual effects artist, Disney veteran and Parker family friend Harrison Ellenshaw: "Fess Parker was an icon to generations of kids with coonskin caps. He was also a wonderful husband, family man, role model, and a gentleman beyond reproach. I have personally known Fess since 1954, and I will forever remember his kindness and generosity; he will be terribly missed."

Observed Pete Docter, the Oscar-winning director of Disney-Pixar’s "Up": "Meeting him was a real high point, and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that better fit the word ‘gentleman.’ He was patient and kind, both with me and all my questions about his career and collaborators, as well as with our young kids who had been obsessively watching the ‘Davy Crockett’ DVDs for months prior. Though I’m sure he was a busy man, he spent the entire afternoon showing me and my family around his winery, treating us to lunch, and talking about his life. It was a day we’ll never forget."

Click here to read the full news obituary.

-- Dennis McLellan

Photo: Buddy Ebsen, left, and Fess Parker rehearse for the opening-day broadcast from Disneyland in July 1955. Credit: Disney / Associated Press.

 
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What a joy Walt Disney and his family have been to all of us throughout the years. From childhood memories through adulthood, nothing but great entertainment, inspiring lessons to be learned, and a "family" of sorts to all of us.
Thank you Walt and your entire family of actors, crews, and friends.
They're ever be another YOU!

And don't get me started on Disneyland! LOL :) :) :) :)
Love it!!!!

How could we not mention that Fess Parker has passed on. If you are a member of the Baby Boomer generation Fess Parker was about as important a hero as they came. In the 1950s Walt Disney decided to do a multi part television dramatization for his Sunday night show retelling the exploits of American pioneer legend Davy Crockett and the tall, lanky Mr. Parker was chosen for the role. Well show biz magic occured and just about every boy, and I imagine many girls, suddenly had a hero they attached themselves to. Part Lone Ranger and part Superman, Davy Crockett was an authentic part of American history, but suddenly his part was bigger than any other. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin-------Get back Jack, here comes Davy.

Out of the Tennessee backwoods Davy helped blaze a trail across the country ending at the Alamo. In the telling, along with friend Georgie Russell (Buddy Ebsen), Crockett and Parker were a phenomenon. A hit song was written and reached number one on the charts and coonskin caps were seen everywhere. I couldn't convince my parents to get me one of those caps, but I did have a Davy Crockett t-shirt. And also a three year old cousin who managed to sing the hit song as Davy, Davy Tockett .

Not that long ago, A friend and I had a discussion about the trading cards that were issued as part of the fad. A very esoteric discussion recalling the fact that cards were issued in two sets, some with green backs and some with orange. Can't get more intellectual than that, can you? But the Crockett jugernaut was something, and an extremely pleasant memory from the youth of so many of us. [Born on a mountain top in Tennessee. Kilt him a bar when he was only three.]

Parker's career didn't end there, he also portrayed another Tennessee legend on television, Daniel Boone and had a film career. Probably his best work was in a movie called the Jayhawkers opposite Jeff Chandler. This was a serious film
about what was known as Bloody Kansas, a terrible time in that state in the era that led into the Civil War. Though grave in nature, I remember a humorous scene in which Parker is trying to teach a couple of children a grammar lesson about their a-fixin to's. He tells them to repeat after him. I'm a fixin' to, he's a fixin' to, their a fixin' to, and so on.

Eventually Parker left performing and had a very successful career as the producer of award winning wines grown in California's wine country. But to so many of us he is a reminder of a very special time and a very special memory. Yes, [Davy, Davy Crockett. King of the wild frontier. And wound up a legend forever more.]

My dear friend Fess, you were the kindest man I have ever known in my life. You were a true man in every sense of the word. I Loved you and Marcy both so much. To be around you was magical, just to see the love and respect between you, I never wanted to leave! My heart is with Marcy, Eli, and Ashley at this time. Farewell for now my friend, with much love. Star


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