Davy, Davy Crockett/King of the wild frontier.
Except the frontier is now that Great Plasma Screen in the sky, where Fess Parker is now residing. The actor who made a household name for himself as iconic frontiersman Davy Crockett—and who started a fashion craze when little tykes and dykes decided began wearing coonskin caps—died at his home in California’s Santa Ynez Valley on Thursday, March 18. He was 85.
No, no, no, he did not die from drinking the wine produced at his winery. A family spokesperson insists his demise was from “natural causes.”
No dummy was Fess: Visitors who took tours of the winery and asked about Davy Crockett were directed to the gift shop, where coonskin caps and DVDs were for sale, next to corkscrews and bottles of vino. Even the wine labels were emblazoned with a small image of a coonskin cap.
It was Parker’s scene as a terrified witness in the 1954 sci-fi gemThem! (man against mutant ants) that caught the attention of Walt Disney who was then looking for an actor to star as Crockett. He chose Parker over James Arness-also in Them! and also later a TV biggie as a star of Gunsmoke.
Viewers also were addicted to the show’s theme song; Bill Hayes’ version of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” stayed at the No. 1 spot for 13 weeks. Parker said recalled that the show’s success “was an explosion beyond anyone’s comprehension. The power of television, which was still new, was demonstrated for the first time.”
Yet Parker had fessed up to the realization that old age was creeping up on him. Last year, he wrote an open letter to his fans and posted it on the winery’s website, stating that he would no longer honor autographs requests. “At age 84 the wielding of the pen does not come as easily as it once did . . .”
See the entire letter at: http://www.fessparker.com/SignedPhotos.pdf
Davy Crockett made Parker famous. But not rich.
His fortune came from investments in real estate in wine after producers screwed him on Crockett percentage royalties.
Still, it wasn’t a bad life for a fella whose first major role was in the forgettable 1953 film The Kid From Left Field.
We’ll let Parker rest in peace and offer this message, written by him and also posted on his website: “As a bonafide octogenarian I can tell you that with each passing day your family will become more and more important to you. Work at those relationships and make the time to spend time with those you love. I can assure you that you won’t be sorry.”
More about dead celebs! My book, MORBID CURIOSITY: The Disturbing Demises of the Famous and Infamous, has gotten rave reviews. from celebs not dead . . . yet.
“Alan has written a very funny, very clever book-it’s shocking and sinful, and I couldn’t put it down. He leaves no gravestone unturned, nothing buried. Morbid Curiosity is part Six Feet Under, part Mad magazine. It’ll make a killing!” – Joan Rivers
“Even celebrities die, and they do so in far more grand-scale ways than mere mortals. Now that they’ve met their maker, they’ve also found their chronicler, Alan W. Petrucelli. He unearths the demises of the rich and infamous-from Valentino to Heath Ledger and beyond-with detailed research, dishy wit and insight. This book is to die for!” – Michael Musto
“Morbid Curiosity is a cornucopia of Hollywood gossip and tidbits, much more humorous than macabre, delivered from a different point of view than any book I’ve read about celebs. It’s breezy, pithy, informative, odd and, despite its subject matter, certain to amuse.”- Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies