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Fess Parker
Birth: Aug. 16, 1924
Fort Worth
Tarrant County
Texas, USA
Death: Mar. 18, 2010
Santa Ynez
Santa Barbara County
California, USA

Actor. He is best remembered for his role as Davy Crockett in the Walt Disney 1955 to 1956 television mini-series "Davy Crockett" and as Daniel Boone in the television series "Daniel Boone" that ran from 1964 to 1970. Born Fess Elisha Parker, Jr in Fort Worth, Texas, he was raised on a farm near San Angelo, Texas. After World War II broke out, he enlisted in the US Navy, with the hopes of becoming a pilot, but was turned down because of his height at 6 feet 5 inches. He then tried to become a radioman gunner, but was again too big to fit comfortably into the rear cockpit. He was finally transferred to the Marine Corps as a radio operator and in 1945 he was sent to the South Pacific shortly before the end of the war. In 1946 he was discharged and enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. In 1947 he transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, Texas as a history major and continued to be active in drama. In 1950 he graduated with a Bachelors Degree in history and relocated to California, where he studied drama at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California and received a Masters Degree in theater history. He launched his acting career in 1951 when he had a job as an extra in the play "Mister Roberts," although he is credited with the voice of Leslie, the chauffeur, in the 1950 film "Harvey." A few months later, he obtained a minor part in the movie "Untamed Frontier" with Joseph Cotten and Shelley Winters. He signed with Warner Brothers and appeared in small roles in several films such as "Springfield Rifle" (1952), "Island in the Sky" (1953, uncredited), "The Bounty Hunter" (1954), and "Battle Cry" (1955). In 1954 he appeared as 'Grat Dalton' in the Jim Davis syndicated western anthology series "Stories of the Century" in the episode "The Dalton Brothers." In 1955 the Walt Disney Company was seeking an actor to play Davy Crockett. James Arness, thereafter cast as Marshal Matt Dillon on CBS's "Gunsmoke," was first considered for the title role. Parker appeared in a B movie called "Them!" which required only one day's work. He had a small scene in the movie as a pilot put into an insane asylum after claiming his plane had been downed by giant flying insects. Arness appeared in the same film, in a larger role. Walt Disney was impressed by Parker's portrayal in the film and was chosen for the role of Davy Crockett. Disney's three-episode version of "Davy Crockett" depicted his exploits as a frontiersman, congressman, and tragic hero of the Battle of the Alamo. It has been called the first television miniseries, though the term had not yet been coined. The mini-series was a tremendous hit and led to a merchandising frenzy for coonskin caps and other Crockett-related items. He then became a contract star for Disney and appeared in "The Great Locomotive Chase" (1956), "Westward Ho the Wagons!" (1956), "Old Yeller" (1957), and "The Light in the Forest" (1958). During this time, performed the occasional role of Tom Conrad, editor of the Diablo Courier in the syndicated western series, "Annie Oakley" (1954-1957). By 1959 his popularity had leveled off, and he found that he was unable to regain the success he had with Crockett. He made guest appearances on a number of television series such as "Death Valley Days" and "General Electric Theatre" and starred in other movies, such as "The Jayhawkers!" (1959), and "Hell is for Heroes" (1962). In 1962 he starred in the title role of the TV series "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" but it lasted for only a year. In 1963 he took to the stage, in a traveling production of "Oklahoma!" as 'Curly'. In 1964 he returned to television in the "Daniel Boone" series and over its six years, it became one of the highest rated shows of its time. He was not only the star of the series but also the co-producer and director of five of its most popular episodes. In 1970 he turned down the title role of the television series "McCloud" and following a short-lived 1974 sitcom, "The Fess Parker Show," he retired as an actor. and opened a winery in Los Olivos, California called Fess Parker Family Winery and Vineyards. In 1986 he built his first resort hotel, Fess Parker's Double Tree Resort, in Santa Barbara, California. In 1987 he opened a winery in Los Olivos, California called Fess Parker Family Winery and Vineyards, along the famous Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, which produced several award-winning wines. In 2003 he received the Texas Cultural Trust's "Texas Medal of Arts Award", established only the year before. In December 2004, for his work with Disney, her was honored with his own tribute window on a fašade in the "Frontierland" section of Disneyland. He died of natural causes at his home in Santa Ynez, California at the age of 85. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Fess Elisha Parker (1900 - 1965)
  Mackie Allen Parker (1898 - 1985)
 
Burial:
Santa Barbara Cemetery
Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara County
California, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: T.V.F.T.H.
Record added: Mar 18, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 49894540
Fess Parker
Added by: Kathleen
 
Fess Parker
Added by: Pat Joubert
 
Fess Parker
Added by: Steve Goldstein
 
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Thank you for your Davy Crockett movies and Daniel Boone TV series they brought me much joy in my youth. Even though I'm a lot older now I watch them on dvd. I have them all. You were a great actor and a real gentleman. Rest in peace.
- Frank Ciletti
 Added: Sep. 1, 2014

- Cindy Taylor-Matuse
 Added: Aug. 31, 2014
God bless you and thank you for your honorable, selfless service. Semper Fi. Rest in Peace.
- LTC B, USAR (ret)
 Added: Aug. 30, 2014
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