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.