Archive reader, John Sinclair passed on this sad news, as another western icon passes on - Fess Parker, who starred as the coonskin-capped Davy Crockett in the 1950s, becoming a lifelong favorite of the baby boomers, died Thursday of natural causes at his home in California's Santa Ynez Valley. He was 85.
He later attained a second stardom as owner of the Fess Parker Winery and the Doubletree Resort along Santa Barbara's beachfront.
The 6-foot-5 Parker was hugely popular among kids in the late '50s, starring as Crockett on TV and in such Disney films as "The Great Locomotive Chase" (1956), "Westward Ho the Wagons!" (1956), the classic tear-jerker "Old Yeller" (1957) and "The Light in the Forest" (1958). He was named a Disney legend in 1991.
His appeal peaked with the nationwide "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier" craze as tykes bought the coonskin caps and belted out the popular refrain of the title song. The first installment of "Davy Crockett," with Buddy Ebsen as the frontiersman's sidekick, debuted in December 1954 as part of the "Disneyland" TV show.
His casting by Walt Disney as Crockett was a bit of a fluke. Disney had requested to screen the 1954 sci-fi movie "Them!" which starred James Arness, whom Disney was considering for Crockett. Instead, Parker caught Disney's eye in a bit role as a man frightened by an alien encounter.