Friday, March 19, 2010

Fess Parker Dies at 85

"The first installment of "Davy Crockett," with Buddy Ebsen as Crockett's sidekick (Georgy Russell), debuted in December 1954 as part of the "Disneyland" TV show.

The 6-foot, 6-inch Parker was quickly embraced by youngsters as the man in a coonskin cap who stood for the spirit of the American frontier. Boomers gripped by the Crockett craze scooped up Davy lunch boxes, toy Old Betsy rifles, buckskin shirts and trademark fur caps. "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" ("Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee...") was a No. 1 hit for singer Bill Hayes while Parker's own version reached No. 5.

The first three television episodes were turned into a theatrical film, "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier," in 1955.

True to history, Disney killed off its hero in the third episode, "Davy Crockett at the Alamo," where the real-life Crockett died in 1836 at age 49. But spurred by popular demand, Disney brought back the Crockett character for some episodes in the 1955-56 season, including "Davy Crockett's Keelboat Race." In reporting this development, Hedda Hopper wrote: "Take off those black armbands, kids, and put on your coonskin caps, for Davy Crockett will hit the trail again."
 
But just as suddenly it had taken the country by storm, the craze died down.

Parker's career then leveled off before he made a TV comeback from 1964-1970 in the title role of the TV adventure series "Daniel Boone" -- also based on a real-life American frontiersman. Actor-singer Ed Ames, formerly of the Ames Brothers, played Boone's Indian friend, Mingo."


I'm in mourning.

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