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.