Sadly, early today we lost Fess Parker, the actor who brought the character of Davy Crockett to life for Walt Disney. The role originated on Disney's Sunday night show and became a huge overnight hit, leading to Fess Parker becoming a major cult hero to the generation of kids who first watched the made-for-TV movie that was shown in 3 weekly installments. The film also led to an unexpected demand for spin-off merchandise, including the famous coonskin cap that made Disney's Davy Crockett such an iconic pop culture figure of the 1950s.
Fess only made a handful of movies for Disney after that, and a few films along the way for other studios, before he decided to pretty much retire from acting in the 1970s and devote all of his time and effort to operating his own vineyard and winery in California. Standing 6' 6'', Fess Parker was a gentle giant of a man, soft spoken and amiable to all who met him. I'm glad to know that he lived a long and happy life, passing away peacefully today at age 85. I know he has left behind a legion of longtime fans who will always remember him fondly. In fact, I'm going to dedicate this post to my good friend and former colleague in the Walt Disney world Art Department, Jim Story, one of Davy's biggest fans!
Here's a fun clip from a Disney TV special where Fess Parker reminisces with Buddy Ebsen, who played Davy's trusty sidekick, George Russel: