If there was one face closely associated with the early days Disneyland other than Walt Disney himself, it was Fess Parker. Walt had tapped Parker to play Davy Crockett in the 1950s TV show and also used Parker as Crockett to help spread the news about the new theme park. Fess appeared in photo shoots, and TV specials, and later was seen riding in the opening day parade as Davy Crockett, a character with close ties to Frontierland.
I never got a chance to meet Fess Parker, although I did meet Buddy Ebsen who played Crockett’s sidekick at a party in Los Angeles once. Parker also went on to play Daniel Boone from 1964 to 1970 as well as many other film and television roles.
After his time in the spotlight, Fess Parker went on to live in the Santa Barbara area, moved into real estate, opened a resort and a vineyard. Both of which have won awards. He was married to his wife Marcella for 50 years. Parker died of natural causes at age 85 on his wife’s 84th birthday.
Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger had this to say,
“Like many kids growing up in the 50’s, Davy Crockett was my first hero, and I had the coonskin cap to prove it. Fess Parker’s unforgettable, exciting and admirable performance as this American icon has remained with me all these years, as it has for his millions of fans around the world. Fess is truly a Disney Legend, as is the heroic character he portrayed, and while he will certainly be missed, he will never be forgotten.”
A Disney Legend. From all of us here at The Disney Blog, our condolences to the Parker family.