Fess Parker (1924-2010)

Fess Parker, who played both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone during his television career, has passed away at the age of 85. According to CNN.com, Parker died at his home in Santa Barbara, California. Parker, who made his (uncredited) film debut in 1950’s Harvey as the voice of Leslie the Chauffeur (according to his Internet Movie Database entry), first played Davy Crockett in the December 15th, 1954 episode of ABC’s Disneyland. Four additional episodes were broadcast the following year, the last of which aired on December 14th, 1955. Buddy Ebsen co-starred in the episodes as Georgie Russel. The episodes featured a memorable theme song titled “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” and ushered in a coonskin cap craze. The first three episodes were edited into a feature film called Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier; the final two were also edited into a film, this one called Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.

Parker followed Disneyland and Davy Crockett with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, an ABC sitcom based on the 1939 film of the same named, which starred James Stewart and was directed by Frank Capra. The series ran for 25 episodes during the 1962-1963 season. From 1964 to 1970, Parker starred in NBC’s Daniel Boone alongside Patricia Blair, Darby Hinton and Ed Ames. A total of 165 episodes were broadcast over the course of six seasons. Parker retired in the mid-1970s after starring in an unsold pilot for The Fess Parker Show on CBS. An avid businessman, Parker dabbled in real estate and hotel ownership and in the 1980s set his sights on wine, opening Fess Parker’s Winery & Vineyard in Los Olivos, California.

Obituaries can be found at The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and NPR. The official website for Fess Parker’s Winery & Vineyard can be found here.

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2 Replies to “Fess Parker (1924-2010)”

  1. I remember as a young boy coming home after early Sunday Mass and watching DANIEL BOONE while my family and I ate Sunday Brunch…REST IN PEACE MR. PARKER

  2. “THE FESS PARKER SHOW” was a 1974 attempt by producer Don Fedderson to revive the kind of family comedy he’d been so successful producing during the ’60s [“MY THREE SONS”, “FAMILY AFFAIR”, “TO ROME WITH LOVE”], with Fess in the Fred MacMurray/Brian Keith/John Forsythe role. If I remember correctly, Fess played a widowed father with three daughters {sound familiar?}, and his close friend also raising three sons [Norm Alden as “William Demarest”]. CBS’ programming executive Fred Silverman (and I KNOW the kind of programs he wanted for the network at that time) passed on “FESS PARKER” pilot for the 1974-’75 season because he probably- and rightfully- decided it was “old hat”. He wanted comedies aimed towards a young urban audience, like MTM’s “RHODA” and “PAUL SAND IN FRIENDS AND LOVERS”. That rejection not only virtually ended Fedderson’s career as a network producer [he tried reviving “THE MILLIONAIRE” as a TV movie/”backdoor pilot” for CBS in 1978, without success], it forced Fess Parker to reconsider HIS options, ultimately devoting himself to other business ventures…including real estate and being a vintner. Considering his long career, he deserved his later success….

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