Is your surname Parker?

Research the Parker family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Fess Elisha Parker, Jr.

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, United States
Death: March 18, 2010 (85)
Solvang, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County, California, United States
Place of Burial: Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Fess Elisha Parker, Sr. and Mackie Parker
Husband of Marcella Belle Parker
Father of Private and Private User

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Fess Parker

Fess Elisha Parker, Jr. (August 16, 1924 – March 18, 2010) was an American film and television actor best known for his portrayals of Davy Crockett in the Walt Disney 1955–1956 TV mini-series and as TV's Daniel Boone from 1964 to 1970. He was also known as a wine maker and resort owner-operator.

The Fess Parker Winery is one of the wineries along the famous Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.

Early years

Fess Parker was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and raised on a farm in Tom Green County near San Angelo. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the latter part of World War II, hoping to become a pilot. He was turned down because he was too tall at 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m). He then tried to become a radioman gunner, but he was found too big to fit comfortably into the rear cockpit. He was finally transferred to the Marine Corps as a radio operator and shipped out for the South Pacific shortly before the atom bomb ended the war.

Discharged in 1946, he enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University on the GI Bill. After an automobile collision, he was stabbed in the neck by the other driver during an argument. He was an active member of the H-SU Players Club and transferred to the University of Texas in 1947 as a history major and continued to be active in drama. Parker graduated from UT in 1950 with a degree in history. He had been initiated into the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Having one year remaining on his GI Bill, he studied drama at the University of Southern California, where he studied for a master's degree in theater history.

Career

Parker began his show-business career in summer 1951 when he had a $32-a-week job as an extra in the play Mister Roberts, although he is credited with the voice of Leslie, the chauffeur, in the 1950 film Harvey. Within months, he was on location with a minor part in Untamed Frontier with Joseph Cotten and Shelley Winters.

Parker became a contract player with Warner Brothers appearing in small roles in several films such as Springfield Rifle (1952), Island in the Sky, The Bounty Hunter and Battle Cry. In 1954, he appeared as Grat Dalton in the Jim Davis syndicated western anthology series Stories of the Century in the episode The Dalton Brothers.

Davy Crockett

Main article: Davy Crockett (TV miniseries) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_Crockett_(TV_miniseries)

According to Parker himself, when the Walt Disney Company was seeking an actor to play Davy Crockett, James Arness, thereafter cast as Marshal Matt Dillon on CBS's Gunsmoke, was first considered for the title role. Parker had recently graduated to being a contract weekly actor, but listened to his agent and appeared in a B movie called Them! which required only one day's work. He had a small scene in the movie as a pilot put into an insane asylum after claiming his plane had been downed by giant flying insects. Arness appeared in a larger role in the same film.

During the screening of this film, Walt Disney looked past Arness and discovered Parker. Disney was impressed by Parker's portrayal of a man who was unswerving in his belief in what he saw despite the forces of authority against him. Parker was asked to drop by the Disney Studio. When he did, he brought his guitar, met Disney, sang a song, then said goodbye. Several weeks later Parker was informed that he had been selected over Arness and several other actors for the role, including Buddy Ebsen who eventually played Crockett's companion, George Russell.

Disney's three-episode version of Crockett depicted his exploits as a frontiersman, congressman, and tragic hero of the Alamo. It has been called the first television miniseries, though the term had not yet been coined. Davy Crockett (1954–55) was a tremendous hit and led to a merchandising frenzy for coonskin caps and all things Crockett.

Parker became a contract star for Disney and appeared in The Great Locomotive Chase, Westward Ho, the Wagons!, Old Yeller, and The Light in the Forest. He complained that they were all basically the same role. Disney refused to loan Parker for roles outside that persona, such as in The Searchers and Bus Stop.

Parker made guest appearances on many television programs, and composed and sang. He performed the occasional role of Tom Conrad, editor of the Diablo Courier in the syndicated western series, Annie Oakley (1954–1957), starring Gail Davis, Brad Johnson, and Jimmy Hawkins. In 1962, he starred in the title role of the TV series Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Parker took to the stage in 1963, in a traveling production of Oklahoma! as 'Curly'. The movie roles he sought were elusive.

Daniel Boone

Main article: Daniel Boone (TV series) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Boone_(TV_series)

Parker's Daniel Boone television series portraying another historic figure of America's frontier days began filming in 1964. Over its six years (1964 to 1970) as one of the highest rated shows of its time, Parker was not only the star of the series but also the co-producer and director of five of its most popular episodes.

Parker became interested in opening a Davy Crockett-themed amusement park. In the late 1960s, he optioned land in northern Kentucky at the confluence of Interstate 71 and Interstate 75, with the intention of building Frontier World. However, when the Taft Broadcasting Company of Cincinnati, Ohio began building Kings Island Amusement Park in nearby Mason, Ohio, less than a 2-hour drive from Parker's site, financing for Parker's venture dried up.

Turning down the title role of McCloud, Parker retired from the film industry in the 1970s, after a short-lived 1974 sitcom, The Fess Parker Show.

Awards

Fess Parker was nominated for best new personality Emmy in 1954, but lost to George Gobel. He was never nominated again, nor was his show Daniel Boone.

In 1991 he was named a Disney Legend.

In 2003, Parker received the Texas Cultural Trust's "Texas Medal of Arts Award", established only the year before.

For his work with Disney, Parker was honored in December 2004 with his own tribute window on a façade in the Frontierland section of Disneyland.

Fess Parker Winery

After his acting career, Parker devoted much of his time to operating his Fess Parker Family Winery and Vineyards in Los Olivos, California. The winery is owned and operated by Parker's family, and has produced several different types of award-winning wines. Parker's son, Eli, is President and Director of Winemaking & Vineyard Operations while daughter, Ashley, is Vice President of Marketing & Sales.

The Parker operation includes over 1,500 acres (610 ha) of vineyards, and a tasting room and visitor center along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. In addition to wine, the winery is known for selling coon skin caps and bottle toppers inspired by Parker's Crockett and Boone characters, and for its appearance in the movie Sideways.

In a reminiscence of his acting days, Parkers' wine labels have a logo of a golden coonskin cap.

Personal life

Parker married Marcella Belle Rinehart on January 18, 1960. They had two children, Fess Elisha Parker III and Ashley Allen Rinehart, along with 11 grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Death

According to a spokesperson, Parker died of natural causes on March 18, 2010, at his home in Santa Ynez, California, near the Fess Parker Winery.

He was buried with his parents at Santa Barbara Cemetery in Santa Barbara, California.

Fess Park Wikipedia Filmography Wikipedia


Actor. He is best remembered for his role as Davy Crockett in the Walt Disney 1955 to 1956 television mini-series "Davy Crockett" and as Daniel Boone in the television series "Daniel Boone" that ran from 1964 to 1970. Born Fess Elisha Parker, Jr in Fort Worth, Texas, he was raised on a farm near San Angelo, Texas. After World War II broke out, he enlisted in the US Navy, with the hopes of becoming a pilot, but was turned down because of his height at 6 feet 5 inches. He then tried to become a radioman gunner, but was again too big to fit comfortably into the rear cockpit. He was finally transferred to the Marine Corps as a radio operator and in 1945 he was sent to the South Pacific shortly before the end of the war. In 1946 he was discharged and enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. In 1947 he transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, Texas as a history major and continued to be active in drama. In 1950 he graduated with a Bachelors Degree in history and relocated to California, where he studied drama at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California and received a Masters Degree in theater history. He launched his acting career in 1951 when he had a job as an extra in the play "Mister Roberts," although he is credited with the voice of Leslie, the chauffeur, in the 1950 film "Harvey." A few months later, he obtained a minor part in the movie "Untamed Frontier" with Joseph Cotten and Shelley Winters. He signed with Warner Brothers and appeared in small roles in several films such as "Springfield Rifle" (1952), "Island in the Sky" (1953, uncredited), "The Bounty Hunter" (1954), and "Battle Cry" (1955). In 1954 he appeared as 'Grat Dalton' in the Jim Davis syndicated western anthology series "Stories of the Century" in the episode "The Dalton Brothers." In 1955 the Walt Disney Company was seeking an actor to play Davy Crockett. James Arness, thereafter cast as Marshal Matt Dillon on CBS's "Gunsmoke," was first considered for the title role. Parker appeared in a B movie called "Them!" which required only one day's work. He had a small scene in the movie as a pilot put into an insane asylum after claiming his plane had been downed by giant flying insects. Arness appeared in the same film, in a larger role. Walt Disney was impressed by Parker's portrayal in the film and was chosen for the role of Davy Crockett. Disney's three-episode version of "Davy Crockett" depicted his exploits as a frontiersman, congressman, and tragic hero of the Battle of the Alamo. It has been called the first television miniseries, though the term had not yet been coined. The mini-series was a tremendous hit and led to a merchandising frenzy for coonskin caps and other Crockett-related items. He then became a contract star for Disney and appeared in "The Great Locomotive Chase" (1956), "Westward Ho the Wagons!" (1956), "Old Yeller" (1957), and "The Light in the Forest" (1958). During this time, performed the occasional role of Tom Conrad, editor of the Diablo Courier in the syndicated western series, "Annie Oakley" (1954-1957). By 1959 his popularity had leveled off, and he found that he was unable to regain the success he had with Crockett. He made guest appearances on a number of television series such as "Death Valley Days" and "General Electric Theatre" and starred in other movies, such as "The Jayhawkers!" (1959), and "Hell is for Heroes" (1962). In 1962 he starred in the title role of the TV series "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" but it lasted for only a year. In 1963 he took to the stage, in a traveling production of "Oklahoma!" as 'Curly'. In 1964 he returned to television in the "Daniel Boone" series and over its six years, it became one of the highest rated shows of its time. He was not only the star of the series but also the co-producer and director of five of its most popular episodes. In 1970 he turned down the title role of the television series "McCloud" and following a short-lived 1974 sitcom, "The Fess Parker Show," he retired as an actor. and opened a winery in Los Olivos, California called Fess Parker Family Winery and Vineyards. In 1986 he built his first resort hotel, Fess Parker's Double Tree Resort, in Santa Barbara, California. In 1987 he opened a winery in Los Olivos, California called Fess Parker Family Winery and Vineyards, along the famous Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, which produced several award-winning wines. In 2003 he received the Texas Cultural Trust's "Texas Medal of Arts Award", established only the year before. In December 2004, for his work with Disney, her was honored with his own tribute window on a façade in the "Frontierland" section of Disneyland. He died of natural causes at his home in Santa Ynez, California at the age of 85. (bio by: [fg.cgi?page=mr&MRid=47016546" target="_blank William Bjornstad)]

view all

Fess Parker's Timeline

1924
August 16, 1924
Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, United States
2010
March 18, 2010
Age 85
Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County, California, United States
March 18, 2010
Age 85
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, United States