This a very sad day for all coonskin cap lovers. Fess Parker who played Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett and also TV’s Daniel Boone passed away of natural causes at his Santa Ynez Valley home. He was 85.
The king of the coonskin cap was a giant of a man who was loved by all youngsters of the 1950’s and 60’s. Parker’s characters stood for honesty and righteousness. At 6 foot 5 inches Parker had a charm that made him instantly liked by all who met him or watched him. He embodied the spirit of the American frontier and Frontierland is still a major attraction at Disney’s theme parks 55 years later.
Back when TVs were the latest electronic gadget, Fess burst into living rooms across the nation in December of 1954 as Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier and was responsible for thousands of TV set sales. Every child bugged their parents into buying the new medium. Coonskin caps became the instant craze. So many were sold that there became a shortage of real raccoon tails for the caps. In 2004 Parker donated his original coonskin cap that was worn on the set of Davy Crockett to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
I never met Fess Parker. I had contacted him to do an interview for this site last year but sadly it could not be arranged. I had wanted to discuss the coonskin cap and it’s effect on the boomer generation. I should have done it years ago.
The Texans in 1836 remembered the real Davy Crockett’s death with the cry “Remember the Alamo”. For all of us, we just have to insert one of Fess Parker’s many DVD’s. He had a giant impact on all of us who watched him dressed in those buckskins and coonskin cap cradling “old betsy” so many years ago.
I have included a copy of the “The Ballad of Fess Parker” . It is a parody theme song medley from both famous shows associated with Fess Parker. The song quality is not great but the ballad is.