If you grew up in the United States in the 1950s or '60s and watched television, you probably remember Fess Parker, the 6-foot-6 actor who first played Davy Crockett and then Daniel Boone for chief Imagineer Walt Disney. And you might have demanded your own own coonskin cap. Many kids did.
When Parker died one year ago at age 85, Times staff writer Dennis McLellan reminded readers in the obituary that Disney's Davy Crockett character became a marketer's dream:
[Ten] million coonskin caps reportedly were sold, along with toy 'Old Betsy' rifles, buckskin shirts, T-shirts, coloring books, guitars, bath towels, bedspreads, wallets -- anything with the Crockett name attached.Viewers also fell in love with the show's catchy theme song. Bill Hayes' version of 'The Ballad of Davy Crockett' soared to No. 1 on the hit parade and remained there for 13 weeks.
It was a pop-culture phenomenon. As essayist Neal Gabler put it in The Times: "Before Elvis Presley, Beatlemania, 'The Simpsons,' 'SpongeBob SquarePants,' there was Davy Crockett."
After his acting career, Parker became known for his upscale hotels and winery in Santa Barbara County. Although Parker is gone, you can still visit the winery, where you can not only sample wine but also purchase a coonskin cap.
-- Claire Noland
Photo: Fess Parker as Davy Crockett. Credit: Associated Press / Walt Disney Co.