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R. I. P., Fess Parker

by Leonard Maltin
March 18, 2010 7:54 AM
314 Comments
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Like millions of other kids, I idolized Davy Crockett and the man who played him, Fess Parker…so this is a sad day for me and other lifelong fans, even though I know he lived a good life for more than 85 years.

One of my clearest memories from childhood is donning a coonskin cap and singing one line of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” in a nursery school assembly. I believe I was four years old. Many years later I got to meet Fess Parker, and spent an unforgettable day with him at his beautiful winery in Los Olivos, California. That’s where I shot an interview for the Davy Crockett DVD I hosted and co-produced as part of the Walt Disney Treasures series.

Meeting a childhood idol is a risky proposition, but Fess—

—didn’t let me down: he was charming, candid, and generous with his time. He had great recall of the days surrounding his ascent to stardom, from doing bit parts in TV shows and movies to his hiring for the role of Davy. He spoke warmly of colleagues like Crockett costars Bill Bakewell, who introduced him to the charitable Motion Picture and Television Fund, and veteran Basil Ruysdael, who gave him common-sense advice about acting.

And while Parker had his share of differences with Walt Disney, early on over a cut of the merchandising rights, and later, when he was told that Walt stood in the way of him making movies for other studios (including Bus Stop and The Searchers, according to the actor), he was sensible enough to realize that there was no point in grinding an axe after so many years. Ultimately, he was grateful for the opportunity Disney gave him. And he was much too polite a man to speak ill of his longtime boss.

For those of you who don’t know, or don’t recall, folk hero Davy Crockett was the subject of a three-part series during the first season of Walt Disney’s Disneyland TV show. In those days of three networks—long before cable TV or home video—the audience was enormous, and almost literally overnight, the coonskin-capped backwoodsman became a national phenomenon. His catchy theme song became a best-selling record that remained on the charts for months, and every red-blooded boy in America memorized the lyrics about the man “who killed him a b’ar when he was only three.”

As proof that Disney and company didn’t expect Davy to take off, there were no plans for merchandising when the shows went on the air! The studio’s licensing department scrambled to prepare Crockett caps and paraphernalia, and by the time the shows were rerun later that season—and a feature-length version of the program played in theaters the following year—there were plenty of Davy Crockett toys, games, and products on the shelves. (Not long ago, Fess donated his original coonskin cap ensemble to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.)

Fess (strumming a Davy Crockett guitar) and Walt Disney, wearing some sort of headdress, pose with Governor Frank Clement of Tennessee, Davy's fabled home state, on the eve of the Davy Crockett feature film's release in June of 1955

Parker made several feature films for Disney, including Westward Ho! The Wagons, the underappreciated The Great Locomotive Chase, and the unforgettable Old Yeller. But his career, and his personal fortune, blossomed when he produced his own TV series, Daniel Boone, in the 1960s, and made a series of canny investments, including a great deal of real estate, mostly in Santa Barbara county. Eventually he opened a hotel in Santa Barbara and an inn in Los Olivos, along with his winery and its visitor center. (The roses that line the fence surrounding the property, Fess proudly told me, were planted by his wife Marcy.)

After we finished our interview, he invited my wife and me to stay for lunch, which was served on the shady veranda of his winery. Then he gave us a personal tour of the property, explaining how, as a total novice, he became involved in the wine business, and how his son Eli studied to become a vintner. Having this as a family operation gave him great pride, and while he wasn’t one to live in the past, he recognized that everything stemmed from the worldwide fame he achieved as Davy Crockett. That’s why, if you visit the Fess Parker Winery and purchase some of his (quite delicious) wines, you can also buy a unique accessory: a miniature coonskin cap to slide over the bottle.

And if you really want to take a measure of the man, read this message he posted on his website not long ago: “Some of you may have surmised that the last year or so have been a little rough on me healthwise. Even as I write this, I happen to be in the very capable hands of the team at Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital in Santa Barbara. I can assure you that I am in no great danger; in fact, I haven’t felt as good as I do today in quite some time. I appreciate your e-mails and letters very much…thank you for taking the time to write.

“As a bonafide octogenarian I can tell you that with each passing day your family will become more and more important to you. Work at those relationships and make the time to spend time with those you love. I can assure you that you won’t be sorry.”


For more info, go to www.fessparker.com and for more of my movie reviews, go to www.leonardmaltin.com.

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314 Comments

  • RICHARD BEAN | January 30, 2013 5:33 PMReply

    R.I.P, FESS PARKER - Thanks for memories Fess Parker!

  • Mitch Anderson | February 28, 2011 6:45 AMReply

    Can you believe they left him off the In Memorium piece last night on the Oscars? How much more of a contribution does one actor need to make to be recognized?

  • Don A. | September 26, 2010 9:09 AMReply

    What a great man!

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fess-Parker-Fan-page/154884701207101

  • Andrew McCarthy | August 21, 2010 10:58 AMReply

    My friends and I were lucky enough to hear Fess Parker sing the Davy Crockett song at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a treat to see the man in person.

  • Doug Preston | April 10, 2010 4:55 AMReply

    A very nice tribute to a fine man. As a lifelong railroad buff, I'm especially pleased that you mentioned "The Great Locomotive Chase" AND referred to it as "underappreciated." Truer words were never written. As a kid in the 1950s, I enjoyed all the Davy Crockett stories on "Disneyland" - especially for some reason, "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates" - but my favorite Fess Parker role has to be that of Union spy James J. Andrews in "TGLC." I recall an episode of "Disneyland" devoted to the making of the movie, and couldn't wait for it to be released. However, when it reached Smalley's Theater in my hometown of Cooperstown, NY in the summer of 1956, we were away on a family vacation, so I never got to see it in a theater. (One compensation, however, was the opportunity to see the still-all-steam-powered Nickel Plate Railroad in action, my only exposure to Big Steam in everyday service.) It wasn't until about 1980 that I finally got to see a 16mm version of "TGLC." Then, try to find a video of it! For years it wasn't available, and when I finally obtained a copy a few years ago, it didn't even have the word "Disney" on it anywhere. From what I've read, it was a great flop at the box office, so maybe the Disney organization kind of disowned it. Nevertheless, it was recently included in a special issue of "Trains" magazine devoted to the "100 Greatest Railroad Movies of All Time" along with Buster Keaton's "The General" (the far better-known but far less historically accurate) version of the story. Disney's "The Great Locomotive Chase" is not a perfect telling of the actual events of April 12, 1862 - as has been detailed in books about the original Andrews Raid - but it's still a fine and - yes - "underappreciated" film.

  • George Kling | March 27, 2010 5:05 AMReply

    I remember Fess Parker and the Daniel Boone TV series from
    the 1960s and have enjoyed reading all the tributes and anecdotes
    about him. Before his death I had viewed his website several
    times thinking I would love to see the winery and maybe meet
    him if I was lucky when I travel next to California. Sadly I will not
    have that opportunity. I still intend to go and see the winery and
    maybe, just maybe meet his son Eli or daughter Ashley. If I just
    get to taste the Chardonnay at his winery that will be okay too.
    Thanks for memories Fess Parker!

  • Steve Crum | March 21, 2010 7:06 AMReply

    A wonderful piece, Leonard, with great remembrances. I am nearly 63 now, so I was one of the millions of kids swept into the Crockett craze, loving every minute of it. Please visit my tribute to Fess and Davy, along with a 1955 photo of yours truly in Davy Crockett regalia: http://crumonshowbiz.blogspot.com/

  • Keith Lightfoot | March 21, 2010 3:39 AMReply

    Your comments about Fess Parker were spot on and in many ways similar to the day I spent with Fess and Marcy a couple of years ago. Although I was a distant cousin, I had not seen Fess in 30+ years and that had been a breif visit. While planning a business trip to LA I contacted his office to see if he might have a few minutes to see me. In a quick response from his personal assistant she said the Parkers would love to host you for lunch at the Wine Country Inn at 11 AM on Saturday. I drove up from LA expecting a nice hour lunch to catch up and that being it. After a two hour lunch they insisted on touring the tasting room and several of their vinyards. As soon as we entered the tasting room the patrons started lining up for photo ops and autographs and since I was standing nearby minding the dogs Fess would introduce me to each one as his Texas cousin. He must have greeted at least 50 fans taking time to visit with each one. Over the course of the day we talked about Hollywood, hotels, grapes and especially family. As I left their house after dark that evening I realized what a truly genuine and humble man I had the honor of knowing.

    Keith Lightfoot
    Sherman, TX

  • Tony Dorf | March 20, 2010 12:53 PMReply

    Thank you Mr Maltin for writing such a great story. I too remember the TV Series. I was 7, 8 years old. I have been too the winery in Santa Barbara, but it has been many years. I am planning trip to Oregon later in the year, I will make a point to stop in Santa Barbara and visit the winery. I do believe I too once had a Coon skin cap.

    Take care and thanks again.

  • Paul Puckett | March 20, 2010 12:12 PMReply

    Leonard,

    Thanks for the memories. Coonskin cap, real fringed buckskin suit and moccasins, powder horn, toy musket and rubber scout knife, etc…I had it all. Living in a house in a new development in the 50's in Rome, Georgia, I had ample piney woods to launch my explorations. Performing the Davy theme song led to a twenty-year career in music…singing and playing the guitar. However, although this piece is about Fess, let’s not overlook Davy’s sidekick Georgie Russell. Georgie, played by Buddy Ebsen, of Beverly Hillbillies fame, had a long career in showbusiness before and after the Disney productions. The exchange between these two best friends was all important in the success of the Davy Crockett series. The wholesome relationship helped to set an example for friendships that exist with today’s “baby-boomers”. Members of my 1963 high school graduating class still enjoy monthly dinners together. We all have fond memories of Fess Parker.

    Paul Puckett
    paul@paulpuckett.com

  • Blaiser | March 20, 2010 12:06 PMReply

    All true. Today's kids can't imagine just how big Davey Crockett was. Everybody knew the song, everybody had the coonskin cap, he was bigger than Elvis!

    Both he and Davey were true American hero's, where have they all gone ?

  • Dinah Lee | March 20, 2010 10:47 AMReply

    This is a wonderful tribute and I am so glad Mr. Parker was able to let go of the difficulty with the disney company and not be bitter about it. I always Enjoyed watching Daniel Boone, my mom would remind me tho that before he was Daniel Boone he was Davy Crockett! My parents sent my older sister to Sunday school to teach her "values", she came home from church singing the Davy Crockett theme song!!

  • Jennie | March 20, 2010 10:41 AMReply

    I'm very saddened to hear about the passing of Fess Parker. He was such a great man to watch on the t.v. in both the series "Davy Crockett" and "Daniel Boone" that I used to watch as a kid. I fit into the "baby boomer" stage described here, I was born in the 1950's and grew up with his shows. He was always a hero as far as I was concerned. Knowing now that he has a winery in the Santa Barbara area, when I go up to that area to visit a friend who lives in Santa Maria, I will definitely make it a point to visit his winery. I will raise a "toast" to this great man the next time I drink a glass of wine! R.I.P MR. FESS PARKER !!

  • Gale | March 20, 2010 10:34 AMReply

    Coonskin caps and fringed jackets were everywhere. All those kids, and in the 50's there were many of them, tried to imitate their hero. Why?

    You didn't have to meet Fess Parker to know he was an honest, hard working, and decent man. His personal integrity came right through the TV set. This was a man you could count on and every kid knew it.

  • Carole | March 20, 2010 10:05 AMReply

    Shortly after my mother's death, we visited Fess Parkers inn and winery. It was a Thursday night and he and his wife Marcy made it a habit to play the piano and sing in the lounge/living room area for their guests. That evening, the room was crowded with many of their friends (talented ones to say the least) because an old friend of theirs had passed away and they were in town for his memorial. What an incredible unexpected evening for us...the warmth, talent, and love in that space was unbelievable. Marcy sang and gave a tribute to their friend. I spoke to her and Fess and thanked them....somehow it helped me in the mourning process after losing my Mom only a few weeks before. He was so down to earth and a warm compassionate human being...our generation will sadly miss him and always remember him.

  • George W | March 20, 2010 10:03 AMReply

    Fess Parker was an early hero of mine. Talked straight, shot straight, and also showed when you gave your word you kept your word.

    He will be sorely missed. They don't makem like him no more.

    I had followed his career after Daniel Boone and he had made some good investments.

    One of the few actors that made money outside of being an actor.

    George W.

  • don paly | March 20, 2010 10:02 AMReply

    R.I.P, Fess Parker

  • Harvey | March 20, 2010 9:54 AMReply

    Fess Parker was Davy Crockett. He was so convincing and such a bright light in my childhood. I wore the tailed hat proudly.
    I didn't have the chance to meet him or visit his winery, but some day I will. What a nice tribute to a wonderful person.

    Harvey

  • Robert Wright | March 20, 2010 9:34 AMReply

    I always knew from the theme song Daniel Boone was a man, a big man, brave and fearless. I felt that, because it appears he was that in life away from the screen. Thanks for the memories of yesterday

  • Bill Reinhart | March 20, 2010 9:29 AMReply

    Sorry to see an excellant actor and childhood hero.
    I watched Davy Crockett, Daniel Boon, and several dvds/movies with Mr, Parker in them.

    "BE SURE YOUR RIGHT, THEN GO AHEAD!," quoted from Davey; made my dicision to join the military, and I have an acculmulated 20 yrs retirement.

    He is missed.

  • Pat | March 20, 2010 9:29 AMReply

    I am a woman of 85yearsold. It wasn't just the kids who loved Davie Crocket.. We older folks also loved him. I think Davie Crockets death was very shocking to me. A lot of the actors are dying off and while it sets me back every time I hear of the death of a movie star it really set me back when Fess Parker died. May God be with his family at this time. He brought us all enjoyment. Okie

  • Jim Moore | March 20, 2010 9:26 AMReply

    I am very sad to hear about the passing of Fess Parker. He was a kind and gentle spirit of a man and gave the USA something to be proud of during his portrayal of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. To me he represented a better country and people back then, things were vastly different and not so "hard core" and mean sided. We have come a long way down in my opinion and I think it is sad that he and all those like him are passing on now to I hope a better place. We may have made giant leaps in technology but we have lost our humanity in the rush and I am not so sure it was worth it. Jim Moore

  • Dwayne | March 20, 2010 9:19 AMReply

    Although I wasn't born until the late 50's, I remember my Mother telling me the story how my brother idolized Davy Crockett and he insist on wearing his coonskin cap at bedtime. No matter how hard my Mom tried to get him to remove his hat, he managed to sleep with it on. I only wished my parents has taken a picture of him with it on. I watched Davy Crockett in the early 60's when it was repeated on TV and still have good memories watching the show.

  • Angela | March 20, 2010 9:13 AMReply

    I agree, you've written a nice piece Leonard.
    It brought back so many memories of when I was a child. When I knew the show was about to start I would run in the house, slid on the floor like I was sliding into home base and land right in front of the T.V. I started singing the theme song, 'Davy Crockett', along with the starting of the show. Not long after that I too watched the Daniel Boone series. I'm happy to have such memories of a great actor. It is sad to hear of his passing. My condolence to the family of Mr. Parker.

  • ryan ellis | March 20, 2010 8:57 AMReply

    i just heard the heard the news about fess parker i grew up watching his movies they were awsome he was really my idol he was a hero to me i always looked up to him in a way that i look at my grandfather in the same way so i really enjoy his movies i wish today that they could make more movies like that with out bad sex and bad lanuge but they can have action in the movie instead of the other stuff that people see on tv these days my regards to fess parker and his family i am one of his biggest fans i am 29 years and love to watch the old movies from way back the days when i t was a lot fun to see a movie.

  • Jim | March 20, 2010 8:34 AMReply

    Turning 67 here pretty soon, I remember the show quite well. My grandmother was a full blood Iroquois Indian and she told me storys handed down thru her side of the family, some about the original Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone & others and with her storys and this show it all seemed to fill in some of the gaps. There was alot of history going on back then, to bad more of it wasn't documented better. Fess Parker was a big man w/ a soft voice and a huge smile. He made growing up, fun and advenuresome. When that show came on tv every kid had to have a coon skin cap, and the toy flintlock rifle.

  • Jim | March 20, 2010 8:07 AMReply

    As a twentysomthing child of the 90's, I got to see Fess on The Magical World of Disney and absolutely fell in love with the the old-school adventures of a very remarkable man. Parker's unflappable attitude in those shows are as much fun now as they were 60 odd years ago. Bravo Leny for writting such a lovely tribute to a terrific generational hero!

  • dan reid | March 20, 2010 8:07 AMReply

    Met Mr.Parker at L.A. airport .The week before I returned from Vietnam and was going home after eing discharged from the Marine Corps.He was at the ticket counter and I walked up to him and said aint you Davy Crockett and he said no im Fes Parker.Well I got on the plane feeling stupid when just after takeoff the stewardess came back and said I could sit in first class.So I followed her and she sit me next to Mr.Parker.We talked just about all the way to ST.Louis and he was as nice a guy or down to earth guy you ever want to meet.May you rest in peace knowing you put many smiles on young and old alike.

  • malik | March 20, 2010 8:00 AMReply

    Just another dead white man. The character he portrays represents a time in America when African Americans were slaves. He may be a hero to you lilly white folks but he isn't to the people of our communities. I'm glad this country is getting darker by the day, with my dark skinned brothers coming accross the border and with us breeding you out. Your white women don't want your white babies. they want a Strong Black Man. Even your own people want a Man of Color to lead you instead of that old white man mccain. Your mother land europe is being taken over by people of color as well. A few more generations and white folks won'nt be around. Hope that adds to your depression of this old white man who just died.
    .

  • Datpar | January 25, 2012 6:33 PM

    These comments show that this "person of color" is no better than the slave owners of the 17 and 18 hundreds. Boone nor Crockett owned slaves, neither did Mr. Parker. In fact, the Daniel Boone show used several Negro actors when that was not the norm. A hatefull uneducated bigot is the same no matter the color of his skin, their hearts are all black with hate. The election of President Obama shows the color blindness of most Americans, true Americans that don't put distinctions of some ancestor's birthplace in front of their own nationality, for we could all do that. In closing, those nations dominated by "people of color" don't seem to have done very well by comparison, maybe a few lillies in the garden isn't such a bad thing.

  • FirewindII | March 20, 2010 7:58 AMReply

    No one should underestimate the impact of Old Yeller, which hasn't gotten the attention at Mr. Parker's passing.

    As Walt Disney, the Mousekateers, Zorro, Spin & Marty, and yes, Fess Parker yanked us out of our small, parochial worlds, and thence into the world of color TV, so Old Yeller yanked us across the threshold of death in our lives. Yes, Fess Parker was right in the middle of it all...

    Funny how we get barked at by the people trying to set us and our world straight nowadays, yet this man, with the sheer force of character in his most appropriate roles, probably influenced a generation far more than all the barkers combined.

  • jackie sferlazza | March 20, 2010 7:46 AMReply

    I was lucky enough to spend a week-end at the Fess Parker Inn in Los Olivos a few years ago with my daughter and her husband, and enjoyed the hospitality and excellent food in the dining room at the Inn. Mrs. Parker invited the three of us to join her at their table and spoke of the painting above the fireplace which was painted by Buddy Ebson and givin to them as a gift. My daughter and I were happy to have a picture taken with Fess Parker which we shall cherish as he was so gracious to pose with us. My condolences to his wife, Marcy, and his family. God bless.

  • Paddy | March 20, 2010 7:34 AMReply

    Although the coonskin cap repulsed my mother, an animal rights activist, even way back then, all three of us wore ours every chance we got(Mother drew the line at Church). Picture two frilly little girls, ringlets, petticoats and lace and our four year old brother in shorts, all wearing our caps to town, he singing "BABY, BABY Crockett, King of the wild Frontier" at the top of his lungs. Needless to say, we got lots of attention and smiles. The three of us always loved Mr. Fess Parker and still reminisce of that time of innocence. Mr. Parker was a great gentleman and role model.

  • J Bryan | March 20, 2010 7:26 AMReply

    I remember enjoying Daniel Boone when I was four years old. I continued to watch it in syndication throughout my childhood.

    I'm curious as to how an entire article slipped by with Fess Parker as Davy Crockett instead of Daniel Boone?

  • Dianne H | March 20, 2010 7:25 AMReply

    This is a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. Fess Parker was truly larger than life, on screen and off. I can only envy anyone who actually met this man. Thank you, Leonard, for writing this tribute in such a loving, gentle manner. It seems there are very few left of the great stars of "our time". And this is very sad. My condolences to his family. He will be sorely missed.

  • Glenn Wilkerson | March 20, 2010 7:15 AMReply

    Fess Parker was a household name when I was a kid. He had a very smooth way of talking (almost a drawl). He was one of my heros, I thought he was david crockett.

    GOD bless the Parker family and the USA.

    Thank You Lenoard.

  • jonn Bruuce | March 20, 2010 7:09 AMReply

    I watched Dan'l as a kid Maybe he was a larger influence than I thought. Years later now I liveon Boonesboro road across the street from his statue. all in Kentucky. Not many bears now but I keep an eye out for Pawnee.
    condolences to the family.

  • Roger Peterson | March 20, 2010 7:08 AMReply

    In the fall of 1994 I attended a Bed and Breakfast trade show at the Fess Parkers Red Lion Inn in Santa Barbara. Because of his name on the hotel I thought he might be around to sign my 1955 Davy Crockett LP album and get a chance to meet my childhood hero. At the trade show there was a booth selling Fess Parker Wine. I told the girl in the booth I was a big Davy Crockett fan to which she replied...he's my father...would you like to meet him? I just about fell over! She gave me his number to set up a meeting. Two days later I went to his office in the woods and shook hands with Davy Crockett. He invited me into his private office and have a seat. We talked for about a half an hour. What a nice man. He shared some good stories about events in his life and talked about all the pictures on his walls. When I pulled out the old album cover he signed it "Roger, glad our trails have crossed ! Best Wishes, Fess Parker" I'm looking at it right now with tears in my eyes. A day I will never forget!
    Good bye to the "King of the Wild Frontier"

  • Hank | March 20, 2010 7:06 AMReply

    Cheryl
    Here's a connection across time. Your ancestor, Daniel Boone, brought my ancestors across the Cumberland Gap from Virginia to Kentucky. When I was told that as a child, I ran to my grandfather, a very frosty old Victorian gentleman, and asked him if it was true that our ancestors had come with Daniel Boone. He put his paper down, looked down at me, and said, "Mr. Boone. No one in the family ever addressed or spoke of Mr. Boone by any other name than Mr. Boone." As young as I was I got the point.

  • Ken and Debbie Maki | March 20, 2010 7:05 AMReply

    Leonard, thank you for your heartfelt piece on Fess Parker. I'm a baby boomer under 50 who loved Daniel Boone! I grew up idolizing Fess Parker.
    My husband idolized Davy Crockett in the 50's! Circa 1958 he had the opportunity to meet him on the set of The Jayhawkers..we still have the picture on our mantle. Back in 1999 my family had the fortune to be greeted by him at the door of his winery. I cant tell you how thrilled I was to meet 'Daniel Boone' after all those years. He took the time to speak with us and take another picture.
    We are deeply saddened by his passing. America has lost a legend, but oh what a footprint he has left behind!

  • Porfirio Aguiar,jr. | March 20, 2010 6:50 AMReply

    Dear Mr. Maltin, A very fine tribute to a remarkable man; I was a teenager in the fifties when the Davy Crockett craze tookj hold; I don't believe no other actor could have played the part as he did; he came across the screen just as he was in real life; a man who was honest with no airs, unasumming, who cared about people; my deepest condolences to his family..

  • Ann Kelleher | March 20, 2010 6:43 AMReply

    Lots of memories! I too was a big (well, actually little in the beginning) fan of Fess Parker and Davy Crockett.......... And like so many kids, had a coonskin cap, and knew all the lyrics and proudly sang them albeit out of tune.

    My thoughts and prayers to his family.

  • Angelia | March 20, 2010 6:37 AMReply

    What a great tribute to a great man, I may not be in the 50 plus group but I remember watching the reruns of the show and how my grandmother would say what a handsome man he was and my dad said he used to watch the show. Dad and Nana are both gone now and it is sad to lose another great and decent man.

  • Tom Allen | March 20, 2010 6:29 AMReply

    I can't say anything that hasn't already been said. But, I too remember in the 50's whenever Davy Crockett came on I was there to watch it. It didn't matter what else was on the other two channels, I would watch Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier. Heck, if our congressmen were like the Davy Crockett that Fess portrayed, our country wouldn't be in the mess it is today.
    Then in the 60's, I would watch Daniel Boone whom possessed the same traits as Davy. I read back then that Fess Parker's real character was like the two that he portrayed on tv. Nice, sensible, mello temper, courteous, honest brave and polite just to name a few. He was the perfect roll model for any child or teenager to follow and especially in the 60's. Like millions of other kids, he was also my hero, I always wished I could meet him in person but alas, I wasn't as lucky as Leonard Maltin.

  • Pat S. | March 20, 2010 6:26 AMReply

    When I think of those memories years growing up, my time waiting for Davey Crockett will be among those fond memories I will rememeber. The song, Davey Crockett bringsa smile to my face and Fess Parker is one of my lifelong hero's. For me, he represents a simpler time, a more secure place, a home cooked meal awaiting my favorite tv shows. He will be missed by millions, but he will be rememebered by the love and honor he potrayed and brought to his fans around the world. He and his legacy will surely be missed...

  • Christian E Beck | March 20, 2010 6:22 AMReply

    Fess Parker as Davie Crocket and Daniel Boone was a blessing to thousands of young boys like myself and our parents! I so dearly did not want to miss an episode that I
    was sure to 'have my chores done promptly' least my folks
    would say NO TV! Growing up on a rural farming area I took to
    trackin' and trapin' to be like Daniel. I sure wanted my own 'coon-skin cap'! I came close when I trapped a Possum, but my dad wasn't going to let me wear that hide on my head! Davie, Daniel
    and Fess, may you all rest in peace and may God bless you all!
    Chris Beck

  • Christine S. in San Diego | March 20, 2010 6:17 AMReply

    I visited the Fess Parker Winery in approximately 1997 and spoke briefly with Parker and his wife. He had a beautiful black (large) standard poodle named "Tuxedo." They were casual, friendly and very welcoming. I also remember his trips to Rancho Mirage and dining at Wally's Desert Turtle restaurant in winter. Fess Parker will be dearly missed.

  • paul meray | March 20, 2010 6:16 AMReply

    It's 2:00 am 3/20/2010 and I just found out that the biggest kids hero of the 50's has died- I cried. I havn't done that for anyone since my dad died over a year ago. Why? I was born in 1951 and besides my dad, he was the biggest kids hero there was. I never had a Crockett hat but boy I would have done just about anything to get one. Fess Parker was just about the best example for anyone of any age, demonstrating honesty courage and how to be a good person, through his tv work and his own personal life. If you didn't know Davey Crockett king of the wild frontier in the 50"s, then you were from another planet. Great actor and will miss him very much. I think I will look for Old Yeller and the classic si-fi thriller Them to watch today. God's speed Fess Parker - our generation will miss you











    c

  • Mark E White | March 20, 2010 6:14 AMReply

    I grew up in decatur,ill .born in 1955 loved fess parker portaying davy crockett,and daniel boone,great heroes to me .our culture needs heros this day and age,fess parker brought that about for me ,i will truly miss him,i love history ,i guess it;s apart of me .my great-grandfather was a farmer in southern il and circut-rider[preacher],visit new salem park lincolin minded a store thier outside of springfield ,il,also visited his tomb as a kid,mark twain cave as a teenager, uncle owned a lodge 8 miles from bohemian lodge in wis where john dilingier shot it out with the g-men,seen bloody clothes on the wall left some inpression!! moved to fort worth,tx in 1984,been to tombstone ,az seen the o.k correl,been to the alamo in san antonio,tx seen davy crockett rifle,been to boonesboro in kentucky love it i guess i live out of time would of loved to lived in the wild west i guess,deep love for history and the u.s.a ,GOD BLESS AMERICA< MY PRAYERS BE WITH THE PARKER FAMILY

  • Walter Watson | March 20, 2010 6:13 AMReply

    What a memory maker he made in my life too! I remember times as a kid when I played Daniel Boone with my friends. His show gave me a new courage, and at times a new vision, His acting was one of a kind to me as a child . Fess Parker was one of my childhood heroes. I loved his show so much often I would put away my homework and tell my dad "I'll get back to my homework after Daniel Boone. OK? I think he liked it too since he watched it with me quite often. I was probably about 10 or twelve then I am now a full grown adult with three children,
    We do not get those old traditional frontier movies any more but if we did my whole family would be introduced to Davy Crocket KIng of the Wild Frontier, otherwise known as Daniel Boone.

  • Rich | March 20, 2010 6:13 AMReply

    Thanks for the great tribute. My family just lost my father this past week and he possessed many of the great character traits that Mr. Parker had as an actor and man. I can still remember with great fondness watching the shows that Mr. Parker starred in with my father and hearing the good advise, caring and love both in his voice and my own father's. Nice job.

  • Jo Webster | March 20, 2010 6:12 AMReply

    My brother, sister and I used to drive mother "crazy" with our constant singing of the "Davy Crockett" song which we did from Kansas all the way to New York on the way to the ship that would take us to dad's new military post. We all laughed about that for many many years after. My brother went absolutely nowhere without his coonskin hat. He was a great actor and will live fondly in our memories.

    My heartfelt condolences go out to his family.

  • SHERRY A. JONES,TUCKER,ZIEGLER | March 20, 2010 6:12 AMReply

    To Fess Parker's Family, Friends and other Fans,
    I was one of the few girls to watch, with great enthousiasim,respect and love both Davy Crockett and Danial Boone. I was 6 years old when Davy cam on and I got me a coonskin cap just like my big brother. We ran all over the neighborhood in them. These two shows had a big influince on us as children, as did all of the Disney Movies and Shows. I am sorry that Fess Parker has passed on. I am sure God is with him in heaven, as he was a great and good man.I will never stop watching his films.
    From a female fan,
    Sherry Ziegler

  • Phil Alpert | March 20, 2010 6:11 AMReply

    As a 50+ year old, I grew up on Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone and thus I always had a special place for Fess Parker in my memories. I had the great pleasure of visiting his delightful Hotel in Los Olivos a couple of years ago; much to my great delight, he was there and spent a good half an hour speaking with me about his life, the Disney experience, and his friendship with Buddy Ebsen. It was an amazing moment and he was quite generous with his time. He signed a bottle of wine (Chardonnay) which I will never open. I will miss him. Leonard thank you for your touching report.

  • Ronald Holst | March 20, 2010 6:10 AMReply

    I remember Fess Parker As Davy Crockett in some ways he inspired me to muck as a young boy at age 5 why too much Well I remember getting up early one morning about 1 am getting dressed witch included my coon skin hat or a facsimile there of getting my pop gun and started heading down Colfax ave in Aurora Colo. I remember it was cold that night but all i could think of was getting into the Mouton's So I like my Hero Davy Crockett could kill me a bare but I was older than three so I new I could do it . I am not sure How far i got But i do remember being brought home by a taxi that saw mew walking done this main road or highway thorough Denver and I can still see the look on my Dad and moms face as the Driver ask them if i belonged to them . well All I remember is getting a hug from both my folks before I got a spanking a well deserved one I realize I never did Feel I lived Up to Day Crockett Though . I do know now as a 59 year old man just how much I will miss Fess Parker he Gave me the courage as a 5 year old boy to venture out into a cold night to try to kill him self a Bare . as crazy as that sounds I hold that memory close to my hart because of him I did find out that night ,just how much Mom and dad did care and love me . And He will; be missed greatly by me . Not To mention My sister Who Got an A in her English class write a shot story about her younger bother want to be Just Like Davy Crockett .

  • Gary | March 20, 2010 6:07 AMReply

    As did others, I too appreciated Leonard Maltin's tribute to Fess. Fess and Marcie were at my wedding in December 1961 and my dad, Tom Blackburn, escorted Marcie Reinhart down the isle for Fess and Marcie's wedding. Fess was always very loyal and appreciative of my dad, Tom, who was one of many writers who wrote screen treatments based on Davy Crocktett's biography of which Disney Studios had purchased the rights. Walt and my dad had great sympatico and his was the only screen treatment to gain Walt's approval. If you look at the screen credits you will see Tom Blackburn wrote the scripts for all TV episodes and lyrics to the songs, including The Ballad of Davy Crocket. George Bruns wrote the music. For casting, it was Tom who spotted Fess in another movie and asked Walt to view certain scenes in one of the small studio viewing rooms. From that, Walt brought Fess in for a screen test and the rest is well documented. I don't know who found vaudvilian and dancer Buddy Ebson to play Georgie Russel, but he, Fess, and my dad remaind life-long friends until each died. Other Disney films that Tom wrote for Disney included Johnie Tremain, Westward Ho! The Wagons, and Andy Burnett. Tom's epic Western Colt 45 helped save Warner Brothers from financial embarresment.

    Dr. Parker, yes, he did have a doctorate in theatre arts, was friendly and gracious to us and his friends. My then teenage brother enjoyed part of his summer vacation with Fess' parents on thier ranch in Texas.

    I had heard that people with whom Fess had real estate dealings in Santa Barbera were not so inclined to agree with an assessment of pleasant cordiality. As a hard-headed businessman, he developed an impressive real estate presence.

    The Fess Parker Winery in Los Olivos, north of Santa Barbara and not far from Solvang and his winery neighbors all produce quality wine. Fess harbored the dream of the Los Olivos Valley to rival the Napa Valley in fame and quality.

    Many people will morn his passing but will be greatful of his ability and friendship.

    Gary B

  • Hassie | March 20, 2010 6:06 AMReply

    I remember Davy Crocket and how he was a hero to all the kids in the 1950's. Thank you for your personal story about Mr. Parker. It isn't very often that our childhood heroes live up to their reputations. It sounds like he was a very gracious and kind gentleman - as well as a childhood hero to so many. My condolences to his family.

  • Penelle | March 20, 2010 6:03 AMReply

    What a loss. He was such a good actor and I loved watching Davy Crockett. We all ran around as kids pretending to be Davy.
    Old Yeller was one of my favorite movies.

    Its too bad we are losing so many of our older actors.
    It was a whole different generation of class and talent than what exists today.

    My mother knew quite a few of the greats personally. Judy Garland, Gregory Peck,. Ernest Borgnine and a few others. I loved listening to her stories about them, it made me appreciate them more.

    My sincerest condolences to Fess's family and thanks for such a nice writeup Leonard.
    Fess will be missed by many who enjoyed his company and talent over the years.

  • Karen Elizabeth Bush | March 20, 2010 6:01 AMReply

    I am in mourning.

    Davy Crockett is dead.

    We made no distinction between Fess Parker, actor, and Davy Crockett, American hero, when we were children, and I make no such distinction now. Nor do I feel I any need to do so. As a child, I sensed instinctively that there was reality and substance to Parker's character. As an adult I understand that it was Parker's own intelligence and simple decency that made it so.

    Walt Disney's fictional hero was part of an era when kids knew the bad guys from the good guys. We were "safe" with Davy, who definitely was one of the good guys.

    In these troubled times today, I can't help remembering the words to the ballad of Davy Crocket., who...

    "... went off to Congress and served a spell
    Fixin' up the gover'ment and laws as well.
    Took over Washington, so we heerd tell,
    And patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell.
    Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear."

    We need Davy NOW. America needs to believe in heroes again. That need makes Parker's loss personal and that much more poignant for all who ever wore a coonskin cap at play.

  • Lee Heins | March 20, 2010 5:57 AMReply

    Leonard
    We met in 1996 when you were the Master of Ceremonies at the 30th Anniversary of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" dinner event honoring Academy Award winning Warner Brothers Director Chuck Jones (the man who gave Bugs Bunny his real heart and soul). The event was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach CA and included many of the artists and production staff of the cartoon. It was a magical night whenHollywood came to Newport Beach, CA.
    Thank you for your retrospective on Fess Parker. Your showed
    his gentleman side for which people have admired for decades.
    His legacy will live on thru his family in Santa Barbara County.
    Thank you for your great memories of Fess Parker!

  • Kurt | March 20, 2010 5:46 AMReply

    Fess Parker was a class act. You do not see that quality of a person in Hollywood any more.

  • Jack Wright | March 20, 2010 5:44 AMReply

    While going on a fishing trip with my family in Utah my sister and I got to see Daniel Boone being filmed. My sister got her picture taken on the set in the mountains I was too shy. My favorite show as a kid

  • Thom Wood | March 20, 2010 5:44 AMReply

    All across America, so many of us Baby Boomer boys are saddened to hear of the passing of our earliest HERO, Fess Parker. I was 8 years old when he burst on the black and white tube back in 1955, and the impact he had on me was just phenomenal. My mother could tell that I was simply hooked. She took me to a department store in town and bought me the coonskin cap (God forbid if you didn't have THAT!), a Davy Crockett t-shirt, the fringed top with cut-out sleeves, the matching pants (also fringed), and moccasins! (I had never worn any before!). I also had the Davy Crockett pop rifle, all of which made me the envy of the neighborhood. To say the least, I thought I was SOMETHING to be admired! And of course, just like every other kid in America, I knew all the words to Davy's theme song. To us kids, Fess Parker was the true hero all of us could look up to and admire. It's nice to know that he never forgot his impact on the culture of the performing arts in this country, and he will be remembered by millions of American boys and girls for the simple truths in life that he also brought to the movie screen. Thank you Mr. Parker!

  • Jacqueline M | March 20, 2010 5:42 AMReply

    What a wonderful piece and Fess was a great part of my childhood. Our family is related to Daniel Boone...so we never missed any of the episodes. He's always been a favorite and the world is better for having known him. And you, Leonard, are a jewel in the crown of motion pictures. Your valuable insight has helped many pass on some to enjoy others...and make the right decision. Bless you and Davy Crockett (Fess) will be a part of who we are until we no longer have thoughts.

    Sincerely,
    J

  • Wm Popper | March 20, 2010 5:41 AMReply

    Excellent narrative tribute writing.
    Thanks for sharing the memories all...
    Remember The Fess Parker Alamo...Peace and vino.

  • Becky | March 20, 2010 5:36 AMReply

    I was blessed to have met Fess Parker and his family when I was 17. I am now 50. I worked at a resort in Northern California and they would come there during the summers. He was a very, very nice man and he and his family were kind, warm and personable.

  • Jo Ann Pedlar | March 20, 2010 5:35 AMReply

    "Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free, raised in the woods so he knew every tree, kilt him a "bar" when he was only three...Davey, Davey Crockett king of the wild frontier"...My self as well as all other "baby boomers" will truly miss Mr. Parker...Long may he R.I.P.

  • Claude M. McAfee | March 20, 2010 5:32 AMReply

    My mother grew up next to Fess Parker and spoke well of his kind nature (her name was Ethel Douglas Webb). If I remember well enough. I believe Mr. Parker's favorite snak on his early movie sets was
    peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

    Truely the passing of a great individual.

  • Emma | March 20, 2010 5:32 AMReply

    I was saddened to read of Fess Parker's passing. I loved watching him as Daniel Boone when I was growing up. As an adult in researching my genealogy to my surprise I learned that the real Daniel Boone's sister Sara was my ggggggggrandmother. I grew up in a small community named Daniel Boone, in Virginia, he made a settlement there on his way to Kentucky. I have visited Pennyslvania where it started and Boonesboro Kentucky. Yadkin Valley NC is yet to visit. So Fess Parker is really special to me, he brought my ancestor to life. Thank you for that. My sympathy to his family

  • SUZ | March 20, 2010 5:31 AMReply

    i remember fess parker as DANIEL BOONE. NOW I CAN BEGIN ON DAVY CROCKETT!!!. AT PEACE AS ONE.

  • Trish | March 20, 2010 5:18 AMReply

    I grew up loving Daniel Boone! My brother and I would ride around the neighborhood pretending we were on horses and we were part of his adventure. Shows like Daniel Boone are what made me fall in love with the outdoors and riding that horse galloping across the open meadow! I still ride, but a real horse this last half of my life but still remember the song and the adventure!

  • Joanne Tafoya | March 20, 2010 5:14 AMReply

    Thanks for your walk thru history. Daniel Boone, a good show, &
    a time when television was worth watching. I feel sad that we have lost Fess Parker.

  • PMW | March 20, 2010 5:13 AMReply

    I, too, idolized Fess Parker as a boy in the 1950s. In 2001, while living in the Los Olivos area, I decided to do something special for my birthday, just for me. I drove the 3 miles down the road to Fess Parker's Los Olivos Inn. The hostess said he had hundreds of people dropping by each year, and she gave me his weekly dining schedule. She said he loved to meet his fans, and encouraged me to come by on his dinner night.

    On the night I approached him as he walked out of the dining room and introduced myself. He was super gracious, and seemed genuinely glad to see me. I told him, "When I was a little kid you were my hero!" He put his arm around my shoulder, bent down slightly to look in my face (he was 6'6") and said "What happened?" It was funny. And I felt like a little kid again, safe in his aura. And given the height difference between us, he still felt a bit like the dad I fantasized him being over 50 years ago.

  • PiXaNiNNiePeTe | March 20, 2010 5:12 AMReply

    I hate the 1800's - it sucked ..... davy boy - (1786-1836).

  • Kevin House | March 20, 2010 5:08 AMReply

    Thank you, Leonard, for the wonderful tribute to Fess. I knew I could count on you to post something as soon as you heard the news. I used to watch "Daniel Boone" in syndication every day after school in the mid-'70s, and now I can enjoy all six seasons on DVD. And, thanks in part to you, I can watch all of his work as Davy Crockett on the Walt Disney Treasures series. I was and will remain a huge Fess Parker fan. I only wish I had had the opportunity to meet him. Everybody seems to agree that he was just as kind and genuine off screen as his characters appeared to be on screen. May he live forever in the minds of all of his fans. Thanks again, Leonard, and please keep up the wonderful work!

  • Michael Nolan | March 20, 2010 5:07 AMReply

    Thank you, Leonard, for your caring appreciation of Fess Parker. While I was never fortunate enough to have met Mr. Parker, I too grew up with his Davy Crockett and, later, Daniel Boone. I even had a flintlock rifle and fringed buckskin jacket. Most of all, I remember Mr. Parker's naturalness onscreen; he was not only thoroughly convincing in his two iconic roles, it was clear that he --- Fess Parker --- was every bit as genuine, honest, and down to earth as the characters he portrayed. This, of course, was borne out by your piece, Leonard, the personal memories shared by others, and the articles I've read about him over the years. Now, more than ever, I deeply regret never having met Mr. Parker personally, but I'm glad so many have had that experience. We've lost a wonderful man --- every bit the hero that Crockett and Boone each were.

  • Nelson | March 20, 2010 5:07 AMReply

    I met Fess Parker in Ft Worth at the Stockyards Rodeo in about 1964 and got an autographed picture of him and still have it. I loved Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone shows.

  • Laurataylor61 | March 20, 2010 5:06 AMReply

    Nice article, in remebrance, Tributes,
    in my fondly memories,
    Of The Actor, Fess Parker, as Daniel Boone,
    Series, and also Davy Crockett.
    And Also In Olde Yeller.
    Walt Disney's films.
    By Laura T on March 20, 2010

  • Jerry X. Shea | March 20, 2010 5:05 AMReply

    Oh he 50's. Dad went to work, mom cooked dinner. School was fun and a family drive on Sunday. No drive by shootings, drug dealers on street corners or freeway chases -- just boys with a coonskin caps enjoying life as they watch their sisters with a hoolahoop.
    What the hell happened?

  • Lonnie Nefouse | March 20, 2010 5:04 AMReply

    Leonard, I met Fess Parker while serving in Vietnam..Of course I grew up with his portrayol of Davy Crockett, his side kick was Buddy Ebsen..Then his Daniel Boone portrayol with Edd Ames. He came to visit trhe troops...It was a big thrill for me as it was for some of the other troops. Your article was so on the money to what Fess Parker meant to a whole generation of us in the 50's and 60's,,The Coonsin Caps and both theme songs..after reading your aricle..I started to sing Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the wild frontier......Our heros are leaving us....how sad that is. I'd give anything to have my coonskin cap again....

  • John | March 20, 2010 5:04 AMReply

    I am not sure what year it was, but he came to the Ky State Fair. He autographed a picture of him for me and shook my hand. As a kid that was a really big deal!

  • David | March 20, 2010 5:01 AMReply

    Very nice piece, Leonard. It.Also brought back my memories when I was one excited boy on my way to the movie theater to see Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier. I must have seen it 5 times. My parents bought me the first Marx Fess Parker Alamo playset and full outfit of Davey Crockett. I admired the man. Thank you, Walt Disney for giving us Fess Parker. R.I.P.

  • Mike Brancato | March 20, 2010 5:00 AMReply

    what a great american hero he has done so much for his fellow man and the state of California. His name and reputation will live on forever, I am glad he wont be around to see what the politican's in Sacramento and Washington DC have done to this country God rest his soul.

  • ROBB CORLESS | March 20, 2010 5:00 AMReply

    IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT WHEN WE WERE KIDS --TV WAS SIMPLE-SO TO SPEAK--3 CHANNELS--SIMPLE--WHEN DANIEL BOONE CAME ON - THAT WAS ONE OUR FAMILY DIDN'T MISS-- BECAUSE THERE WASN'T 125 OTHER THINGS TO POSSIBLY WATCH --DANIEL HAD A GUN --BUT HE ONLY USED IT TO HUNT FOR FOOD FOR THE TABLE --AND TO PROTECT HIMSELF-HIS FAMILY-AND FRIENDS-FROM THOSE THAT ... See MoreWANTED TO TAKE FROM THEM--- -I DO NOT OWN A GUN--BUT THINKING ABOUT IT --NO PROBLEM AS LONG AS YOU LIVE BY DANIEL BOONE'S ETHICS--WE SHOULD NEVER SURRENDER OUR GUNS --NO WAY--BECAUSE THERE IS STILL MORE OF US THAT LIVE BY DANIEL'S RULES THAN THE ONES THAT DON'T--AND WE NEED TO ALWAYS BE ABLE TO PROTECT WHAT WE LOVE.... ROBB CORLESS

  • Raye R | March 20, 2010 4:57 AMReply

    What can I say? I am grateful that I had such a positive role model while growing up. Fess Parker still influences me today. My memories of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone still shine as examples of how a man can be brave, gentle, honest, wise, and truthful. What an incredible legacy.

  • jk | March 20, 2010 4:57 AMReply

    On a business note, Fess Parker will be remembered as a developer of real estate properties with the highest value, quality and integrity. His properties here in Santa Barbara changed the beachfront area and the park that he dedicated to the city will serve as testimony to his personal high standards. We certainly will miss Fess Parker and it is said, "They sure don't make 'um like they used to! In Mr. Parker' life no truer words were ever spoken.

  • Steve | March 20, 2010 4:56 AMReply

    I think Davy Crocket was one of my first memories of T.V. Seems to me like it wasin color, or maybe that was a movie, an early big screen movie of DC. Davy, Davy Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier.

  • Helen Parker (no relation) | March 20, 2010 4:55 AMReply

    I am a baby boomer-61 now and a true Fess Parker/ Daniel Boone/ Old Yeller fan!!!
    I loved Fess Parker in the Daniel Boone series and in Old Yeller-I was so happy that I bore the same last name as my hero of the 1950's!!!! I watched Daniel Boone each week with my Mom and Dad in the 50's-we all so looked forward to that show each week! My Dad died at 47 in 1960 and my Dad was my hero and so was Fess Parker and I remember just how much my Dad loved this show! I, also, rember after seeing Old Yeller, i wrote to Walt Disney on my Disneyland stationard-I was born in 1948, so I must have been about 8, asking him to please bring Old Yeller to San Francisco, my hometown.
    My prayers are with Fess Parker's wife and all his family-what a wonderful man he, obviously, was and what HAPPY memories of him I have on TV and all from MY childhood!
    Helen Parker in San Francisco

  • ralph balltrip | March 20, 2010 4:55 AMReply

    a few days agol i was thinking him because of some one else had pass away . i waned to be like him when i grown up in harlan ky he was a great man. ralph

  • Kent | March 20, 2010 4:55 AMReply

    Great piece Mr. Maltin.

    I am a descendent of the brother of the real Davy Crockett, and while not having had the timely opportunity to actually know my Great Great Great Great Uncle Davy, I can only hope he was as upstanding of a person that the man who played him on TV some 150 years later was. That man would be Fess Parker. Thanks for everything, Fess. No better man has filled the buckskin suit in honor of our American hero.

    Rest in peace.

  • Roseanne Anders | March 20, 2010 4:55 AMReply

    Thanks so much, Leonard. What touching memories. It was wonderful to learn what a marvelous person he was, just as you would expect from some of the roles he had. What a great model he was for millions of kids (and their parents).

  • Helen Parker (no relation) | March 20, 2010 4:54 AMReply

    I am a baby boomer-61 now and a true Fess Parker/ Daniel Boone/ Old Yeller fan!!!
    I loved Fess Parker in the Daniel Boone series and in Old Yeller-I was so happy that I bore the same last name as my hero of the 1950's!!!! I watched Daniel Boone each week with my Mom and Dad in the 50's-we all so looked forward to that show each week! My Dad died at 47 in 1960 and my Dad was my hero and so was Fess Parker and I remember just how much my Dad loved this show! I, also, rember after seeing Old Yeller, i wrote to Walt Disney on my Disneyland stationard-I was born in 1948, so I must have been about 8, asking him to please bring Old Yeller to San Francisco, my hometown.
    My prayers are with Fess Parker's wife and all his family-what a wonderful man he, obviously, was and what HAPPY memories of him I have on TV and all from MY childhood!
    Helen Parker in San Francisco

  • Steven Loe | March 20, 2010 4:54 AMReply

    I enjoyed seeing Fess Parker as Davy Crockett, king of the Wild Frontier, as well as Daniel Boone.
    I will miss him very much.
    Thank you Leonard Maltin, for a very moving tribute.
    I also purchased a coonskin cap as a child

  • DIM TIM | March 20, 2010 4:54 AMReply

    Thank you Mr. Maltin, for the tribute to the passing of Fess Parker. I grew up watching him in his Disney role, and loved him as Daniel Boone.
    Just recently I came across a web site that has online videos of the show, and it was nice to be able to go back in time for a bit, even if it is only in my memories. I'm among the last of the baby boomers, and the passing of him just drives home our mortality.
    But even in this, the joy that these memories bring is enough to remind us of the good things in life, even though they are just passing images on our journey.
    Again, thanks to you for the wonderful tribute.

  • jack b :-) | March 20, 2010 4:52 AMReply

    my memories of him are second hand, as fess actually 'courted' (if that term is used anymore) my mother back in san angelo, tx. just prior to WWII. he was two years younger than my mom, iirc, and they both attended the same school. i'll ask her about it again when i go to the ranch outside of san angelo to see her for mother's day this year. she told several stories about him many years ago when i lived with them before i finished school and moved out on my own. he was apparently quite a guy and quite the gentleman - and my dad liked him very much, but he didn't know him that well. i'll ask him as well...
    i wish i could have met the man, as i thought about him on my many trips to calif. from my native w. tx. throughout the years, but i just never got around to it. basically, i didn't want to intrude on a guy who got out of the hollywood scene and led a quiet, decent life. when you grow up on a ranch you tend to pay attention to those courtesies. ronald reagan was another one of those guys you just 'respected.'

  • Murray Gewirtz | March 20, 2010 4:44 AMReply

    The photo of Fess Parker, Walt Disney and the then Governor of Tennessee has a caption describing Fess and Walt as "wearing some sort of headdress." They appear to be wearing child-sized coonskin caps with a round product label still attached.

    I was one of the Crockett crazies back in '54 and '55, though relatively old at age 12 and 13. We were too poor for me to get an authentic cap fully covered by raccoon fur, so I had one with the top made of a plastic material, or one that was entirely covered in faux-fur acrylic. Of course, the real fur ones are now politically incorrect. I still have my complete two sets-- with orange and green backs-- of Davy Crockett bubble gum cards, as well as a scrapbook I made from newspaper articles, a serialized biography of Crockett, and additional verses to "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" which my brother and I wrote.

    We recognized that Fess Parker may not have been the world's greatest actor, but felt he was just fine for the role of an intrepid, principled frontiersman and statesman. Parker's sincerity and earnestness seemed to shine through his portrayals. He even resembled Crockett physically, more than other actors who have played him before or since.

  • Kathy S | March 20, 2010 4:38 AMReply

    alittle bit of my childhood was lost today......oh the memories ...makes me very sad

  • Bob Reed | March 20, 2010 4:35 AMReply

    Leonard;

    Rather sad to think that just about all those stars that filled our TV screens back in the 1950's and 60's have left us. One of the mist remembered has to be Fess Parker and the Davy Crockett trilogy. To this day, I remember the excitement and anticipation of waiting for the next installment. My parents did not buy all the Davy Crockett merchandise but what they did buy, I still have -- including the Alamo Playset.

    Fess Parker was not one of the great actors but on the screen he came across as natural and genuine -- I believe his most endearing qualities.

    God speed, Fess Parker

    Bob Reed, Columbia, KY.

  • David | March 20, 2010 4:34 AMReply

    Very nice tribute. As a five year old called Davey (at about the same time you had your coonskin cap, Leonard), my family used to sing the Davey Crockett theme song to me as if it were my own theme music. That was fine with me! I loved the show and had all the requisite toys. Cut to: fifty years later. As a surprise weekend date, early in our courtship, I took my girlfriend up to Fess's lovely hotel on the beach at Santa Barbara. He always seemed to be a real gentleman who brought joy to people of all ages, whether as an actor, vinter, hotelier, or family man. Many thanks for sharing your memories and all the best to his wife and children...

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