All of my readers know of my love for history, especially the Texas Revolution and Battle of the Alamo. Actor Fess Parker, was one of the many people responsible for that love, as he played the legendary frontiersman and Alamo defender David Crockett in the hit television series, and later, movie, Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier.
Parker was the sole reason why so many men and women became fascinated, as children, with the Alamo in the baby boomer generation. The popularity that the series and movie caused were unseen by the American public like nothing else before it, as it caused millions of Alamo play sets, McDonald’s toys, and coonskin caps to be produced in the 1950′s.
He first got the role as Crockett in 1955 as a miniseries was produced as part of the show Disneyland. Three episodes were filmed– Indian Fighter, Goes to Congress, and At the Alamo, before being compiled and edited into the feature length movie mentioned above.
The Crockett craze did not die there; in 1956, even after his character had been killed off, a prequel was filmed, titled, Davy Crockett and the River Pirates, where Parker, along with his long-time sidekick Buddy Ebsen challenged a bunch of river criminals in a daring boat race to New Orleans.
The popularity of this caused such a huge market that Alamo movies burst onto the scene at a torrid pace. The Last Command, was made that same year, in 1955, and John Wayne would go on to act in and direct the most well known movie of them all, The Alamo, in 1960.
Ask any person with an interest in this subject, and they will tell you that it was Disney’s Crockett that got them interested. Although highly inaccurate, these films and shows were great at showing violent battles and complex congressional discussions in a way that people of all ages could understand and enjoy them.
In 1964, out f the shadow of Davy Crockett, Parker would go on to star in a television series in which he played Daniel Boone. The show lasted for six seasons but ended up confusing an entire generation of youngsters that Crockett and Boone were the same person, because he played both characters in the exact same way. But there was no harm done.
In 1974, Parker would make his last ever starring role appearance in The Fess Parker Show, that was short-lived. Nevertheless, his legacy lives on to today. Reprints and republication of Davy Crockett comic books are still in production, and Disney even re-releases DVD’s of the Crockett movie.
His later years, were very sedentary, as Parker went on to open up a winery and vineyard, creating a very successful brand of wine. He would give interviews on the Alamo and Crockett craze all the way up until 2006, when he made his last ever appearance in Directed by Norman Foster, an homage to the man who directed the Crockett films.
So this afternoon, the man responsible for all of that passed away at age 85. This was a deeply saddening event, as I can attribute my love for history and inspiration for wanting to become a history teacher, partly to this man. In all his roles, he will always be one thing to me; Davy Crockett. He will be deeply missed and I imagine we will see some tributes of he and his character on TV in the coming weeks. The legacy will continue to live on.
Rest in peace, Mr. Crockett.