Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fess Parker Dies

I was nine years old when Walt Disney introduced Fess Parker as Davy Crockett on Disney's Sunday night TV show, Disneyland. Within weeks, we were all running around in ersatz coonskin caps, toy flintlock rifles, and singing all umtillion verses of "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier." One of the first 45RPM records I bought with my allowance was that song. I'm sure I drove my parents nuts.

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee
Greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so he knew every tree
Killed him a Bar when he was only three!

Davy, Davy Crockett,
King of the Wild Frontier
Davy, Davy Crockett,
King of the Wild Frontier!

He was an actor whose personal life seemed to be as sound as the values Davy Crockett stood for, at least as Walt Disney presented them. I just hated it when he died in the Alamo, but my mom told me that we were related to Col. Travis, and that helped some. Davy's motto was "Be sure you're right; then go ahead." His flintlock's name was "Betsy" and she had her own song, "Bang, Went Ol' Betsy."

Bang Went Ol' Betsy
I owe my life to Betsy
I can travel far and wide
With Betsy by my side!

A few years later John Wayne starred in another telling of the Alamo, and as Davy Crockett. He was good, but it should have been Fess Parker. Only the fact that it was John Wayne prevented me from walking right out.

Frontierland at Disneyland, the amusement park, and at Disney World in Orlando were based on the Davy Crockett series.

Fess Parker was a University of Texas grad. That sounds only right.

And, no, Carol is not related to Davy Crockett. At least not that we know of.

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