Fess Parker, 1924 - 2010I am just one of millions of kids who loved Davy Crockett, as embodied by Fess Parker.
I haven't seen Walt Disney's Davy Crockett TV shows for many years, so below I quote an appreciative review that someone with the screen name gobirds2 posted at Amazon in April 2002, a few months after Disney issued the five original shows on DVD.
Davy Crockett is one of Walt Disney's most endeared and remembered live action characters. He was presented to American audiences by Walt Disney on the Disneyland TV Show in 1954. He was personified by Fess Parker beloved ever after by his sincere portrayal. This colorful and entertaining character was first seen in three episodes from the TV show ("Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter," "Davy Crockett Goes to Congress" and "Davy Crockett at the Alamo"). Parker, with his coonskin cap and homespun drawl and witticism created a nationwide phenomenon in 1954. Who can forget "The Ballad Of Davy Crockett" composed by George Bruns and Tom Blackburn. Buddy Ebsen played his sidekick George Russel, whose adventures take them from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. to the Alamo in the first three episodes. The series' third episode focusing on the defense of the Alamo, though well remembered, is somewhat labored until we see the final image of Davy Crockett passing into legend and glory. This straightforward and beautifully photographed series expounds the virtues of honesty, integrity and bravery. The country could not get enough of Davy so he and George Russel returned in 1955 for two more episodes ("Davy Crockett's Keel Boat Race" and "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates"). For Davy Crockett's second season on television the show was retitled "The Legends of Davy Crockett." The necessary title change came about because we had seen Davy come to his end defending the Alamo and Walt Disney wanted to continue bringing us his adventures. "Davy Crockett's Keel Boat Race" is about a riverboat race between Davy and another American folklore hero Mike Fink. "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates" is about Davy's attempt to stop an Indian uprising with Mike Fink's assistance. In some ways these two episodes are the best. Davy Crockett appears less the frontier fighter and more the good-natured peacemaker in these episodes. The riverboat race with Mike Fink is very entertaining and a high point in Disney's American frontier live action adventures. I don't even think John Ford could have filmed this sequence any better. Kenneth Tobey, who worked with John Ford, is excellent in a great comedic part (Fess Parker made note of Tobey's performance in a supplemental interview on the DVD). Walt Disney gave this actor a chance to demonstrate his great versatility and range as an actor. Also, Mike Fink's boats may look a little familiar since they are the basis for the riverboat ride at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. That's a nice nostalgic tie in! Bert Glennon's cinematography is beautifully picturesque as ever and is matched seamlessly with some very effective glass shot special effects by Peter Ellenshaw. This is one of the best DVDs to come from the Disney vaults. Walt Disney introduces each of the five episodes exactly as they were originally presented on the Disneyland TV Show. The Supplemental Features on this DVD are above and beyond what I had expected. Most of Disney's DVD extras seem to concentrate on the technical aspects of the feature presentation. This DVD focused more on the phenomenon that the legend of Davy Crockett created and the [effect] it had and continues to have on those who were brought up in those times. There are two exceptional Features: "A Conversation with Fess Parker" and "The Davy Crockett Craze." "The Gallery" of photos and memorabilia is also excellent. "A Conversation with Fess Parker" really hit home with me. Fess Parker appeared to be the genuine article that he was. In a world of eroded morals filled with dirt and filth everywhere you turn it was more than comforting to hear Fess Parker's fond recollections of his portrayal and the ideals that Walt immortalized through the tales of this legendary character. If your eyes feel a little watery its because [you're] remembering a time not so long ago when our heroes were real heroes. This is one of the best and should help keep the legend alive for those that lived it, those that loved it and for those that will someday be touched by it.
The New York Times obituary is here.