Fess Parker Signs Off

Fess Parker Signs Off

Actor Fess Parker died Thursday at age 85.  His 1950s portrayal of Davy Crockett made him king of the wild frontier of broadcast TV. A quiet acting style and cross-marketing of coonskin caps, lunch boxes, picture books, and other Crockett items bearing his image made Fess Parker a presence in baby-boom households across mid-20th century America.

There was a follow-up Davy Crockett film (1955), edited from the first episodes of the Walt Disney television series. Mr. Parker also appeared in Disney’s Old Yeller (1957), set in Reconstruction-era Texas.

Fess Parker returned to the small screen as Daniel Boone  (1964 – 1970). With degrees in History and Drama, The lanky Texan was a good fit for period roles. He retired from acting in 1970 and ran a winery and resorts in the Santa Barbara area.

The Davy Crockett theme song (“Ballad of Davy Crockett,” music by George Bruns, lyrics by Tom Blackburn) was recorded by Bill Hayes, Ernie Ford, Mac Wiseman, Tim Curry, Manheim Steamroller, and many others, including Fess Parker himself.  Jewish fans might want to celebrate Passover with “Duvid Crockett” by Mickey Katz, but our favorite version of the tune is by the Kentucky Headhunters:

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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3 Responses to “Fess Parker Signs Off”

  1. Gayle Says:

    At the winery, they sell coon skin caps and HI-larious, tiny coon skin bottle toppers. It’s great that he had a sense of humor and appreciation about his career and characters instead of turning into a mean old curmudgeon like some do. I’ve been a couple times and always hoped I’d see him walking around…
    Oh, and he and his wife, Marcella, have been married since January 1960. Sadly, he died on her birthday.
    Safe home, Mr. Parker…

  2. Fess Parker Signs Off Notionscapital Says:

    […] TV. A quiet acting style and cross-marketing of coonskin caps, lunch boxes, picture books, …This Blog Cancel […]

  3. Mike Licht Says:


    “An Enemy of Raccoons but a Friend of Marketers,” Charles McGrath, New York Times.

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