Free Markets, Free People

Fess Parker 1924-2010

I’m not a big follower of celebrities and frankly don’t really care about most of them.  But Fess Parker is an exception.  Mostly because he was my first hero as a kid.  He was Davey Crockett.  And Davy Crockett was someone to emulate and admire.  And, like Andrew Malcolm who writes a great tribute to Parker, I was a coonskin cap kid and even sang the Ballad of Davey Crockett (“Born on a mountain top in Tennessee ….”) at a school function in the first grade – coonskin cap and all.

As a self-confessed coonskin-cap-wearer (tail snapped on), we momentarily set aside our health-threatening talk about healthcare to fulfill a sentimental obligation to a childhood icon, Davy Crockett.

Crockett, who also used the non-cinematic name of Fess Parker, died of natural causes Thursday at the age of 85.

The problem for many of us is that we cannot separate Davy and Fess or vice versa. Nor, frankly, do we want to. Sure, Fess went on to a successful business career and grew grapes and hotels. But he’ll always also be Davy. The link to politics here is that Davy actually served time in Congress, 1826-1835, back before the U.S. House of Representatives consisted of two partisan herds.

Yes, yes, the 6-foot-6 Parker later played Daniel Boone with the trademark hat. But for the first American generation to grow up with television, the fact was Parker looked and acted more like Davy Crockett than Davy Crockett himself.

Malcolm is exactly right – to an impressionable kid, Parker was Crockett and always will be. And he taught some pretty good lessons to us:

In the days before Bart Simpson became a reverse role model, Davy held that you always said what you meant, meant what you said and went down swinging for what you believed in. Twenty-first century corner-cutting deal-making was not actually an option.

Rest in peace, Davey Crockett, er, Fess Parker – this coonskin cap kid will miss you.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

8 Responses to Fess Parker 1924-2010

  • Fess was a pioneer of a different sort as well.
    Fess pioneered the idea of taking payment as a percentage of “net profits.”
    Unfortunately for him (and later James Garner), the studios had a plethora of ideas of how to make sure there was no “net profit”

  • Fess Parker did manage to convince a generation of Americans that Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone were the same man.

  • (“Born on a mountain top in Tennessee ….”)

    Great.  Now I can’t get that song outta my head.  Darn you and Disney!!

  • There is a good reason for the confusion:
    Parker did Boone because — even though Crockett is clearly in the public domain — nobody would INSURE a TV program because Disney was threatening to sue. Not even Lloyds of London. So, they went with Daniel Boone instead. Implication is that Disney was making it rough because Parker got himself released. Parts that were turned down “on his behalf” while contracted to Disney? The Jeff Hunter role in “The Seekers” ( John Ford never knew that Parker hadn’t known about the turn down, and never forgave him) and the Don Murray role in “Bus Stop.” Disney convinced Parker that it would be ‘bad’ for his film career.

  • THE LAST AND GREATEST OF MY BOYHOOD HEROES IS GONE. THE ICON THAT GOT ME THROUGH MY CHILDHOOD AND BEYOND HAS FALLEN. LEGENDS DIE BUT THIS MAN WILL LIVE FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS AND MINDS. I NOW FULLY REALIZE JUST WHAT A GREAT PLEASURE IT WAS TO MEET HIM AND HIS WIFE TWO SHORT YEARS AGO AT HIS INN. WE WALKED INTO THE INN ON A THURSDAY NIGHT FOR ONE OF HIS SING ALONGS. HE AND THE WIFE WERE SITTING IN THE LOBBY TALKING. MY WIFE SAID GO OVER AND SAY “HI” I SAID NO HE’S BUSY. I DON’T WANT TO BOTHER HIM. THEN A YOUNG LADY TOOK ME BY THE ARM AND SAID “COME ON I’LL INTRODUCE YOU TO FESS HE LOVES MEETING WITH PEOPLE.” SO THEIR I WAS SITTING BESIDE HIM WITH A MILLION QUESTIONS TO ASK HIM. AN HOUR WENT BY AND NEVER ASKED HIM ONE THING, I JUST LISTENED! I WAS JUST IN AWE OF HIM. IN THE FIRST 5 MINUTES OF SITTING THEIR WITH HIM AND THE WIFE HE MADE US FEEL LIKE WE WERE PART OF THE FAMILY AS HE BROUGHT US INTO THE TOPICS OF HIS CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE FAMILY, DAVY CROCKETT, BUDDY EBSEN, WINE, ETC. AS WE ATE IN THE DINING ROOM I THOUGHT THIS IS WAY MORE THAN I EVER BARGAINED FOR. I WAS ELATED! WHAT A NIGHT! I’M SO GLAD I HAD THE CHANCE TO MEET HIM. THIS REALLY CONVINCED ME THAT HE WAS THE PERFECT MAN TO IDOLIZE ALL THESE YEARS. I SAT DOWN LAST NIGHT AND JUST “LISTENED” BUT THEIR WERE NO SOUNDS IN THE AIR NOW. NO, JUST SILENCE. BUT FEAR NOT BECAUSE MY MIND WENT BACK TO THAT NIGHT. YES, MY MEMORIES KICKED IN LIKE THE ROAR OF THOSE ALAMO CANNONS ON THAT FATEFUL DAY IN 1836. AND I KNOW NOBODY CAN TAKE THOSE AWAY FROM ME. NOBODY! GOD LOVE YOU FESS! I’LL BE “TALKING” TO YOU. THAT’S RIGHT “I’LL BE TALKING TO YOU.” DID YOU THINK YOU WERE GOING TO GET AWAY WITH IT – I STILL HAVE A MILLION QUESTIONS TO ASK YOU!!
    FAREWELL,
    PAUL R. DEVITO