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03/18/2010

Remembering Fess Parker

March 18, 2010 |  4:23 pm

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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