Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Me by Tony Piazza
Fess Parker as Davy Crockett
When you hear the lyrics, “born on a mountaintop in Tennessee…” what do you think of? If you were around in 1954 the answer would be instantly evident. It was describing Davy Crockett, and the infant medium’s latest small screen hero. For Walt Disney, he immediately became a marketing phenomenon. A superstar, that sold hundreds of thousands of coonskin caps, toy rifles, T-shirts, lunch pails, and anything that could carry his name or image on it to children around the world. The actor who introduced us to him, and as a result became an overnight success himself, was FESS PARKER.
Parker winery in Los Olivos
I met him one summer in 1994. It was at his winery in Los Olivos,California. After his success with Davy Crockett, he continued making family films, like “Old Yeller”, before eventually donning the cap once again for another frontier hero, Daniel Boone in the popular N.B.C. series of that same name. Wisely over the years he invested his earnings from television and film, and by the time I met him he was already an established and very successful business man in the Santa Barbara area. Besides his winery, he owned a bed and breakfast inn in the town of Los Olivos, and a Double Tree resort hotel in Santa Barbara. Every forth of July he held a celebration at his winery, and that particular year my wife and I were invited as guests. We found him an extremely patriotic man and every bit as moral as the family friendly characters he presented up on the screen. He was a humble man, who loved visiting with each and every guest at the celebration. We witnessed a young couple introducing to him their young lad dressed as Daniel Boone complete with coonskin cap and costume. He thanked them most sincerely for the kind gesture. With pride he presented his wife, son (Eli), daughter-in-law, and poodles to the audience. He made it a family affair. He also talked with pride about his family tree, the Parker’s of Texas, and read from the Declaration of Independence. My wife and I bought a poster of him, which he signed. He was thoughtful enough to ask the spelling of our names. He said that some people have unusual spellings and he always wanted to make sure that he got it right. I think of that now when I sign my books. As a fan, it would be a disappointment if, for example, he spelled my name as Tony when I called myself “Tonnie.” Of course my name is Tony, but I am using this as an example. This was the possible pitfall he was concerned about when it came to signing autographs. I found that extremely thoughtful on his part.
Parker at the fourth of July Celebration, 1994
I was so sorry to hear of his death in 2010. His passing was a personal loss to his family and a source of great sorrow to his friends. As a fan, and person who knew him briefly, I also felt a great sadness…for his death was not that just of a man, but of a cultural icon that was linked to the more innocent times of our youth… His death particularly touched a small lad…one I once knew so intimately, who used to sing, “born on a mountaintop….”
The poster he autographed that day
Tony Piazza (Courtesy of Charlotte Alexander)
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His second novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was published next in early 2012, and in November of 2013 his second Tom Logan Mystery, “A Murder Amongst Angels was released.” In July of 2015 his latest Logan mystery, “Murder Is Such Sweet Revenge” was made available for purchase, and has since been an instant bestseller. All are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.
Tony Piazza is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and SLO NightWriters.
All my novels in the Tom Logan mystery series have become audio books- read by actor James Romick, and is available on Audible, Amazon, and I-tunes.
The rollicking adventure novel set in paradise. The thrill-a-minute bestseller that two film producers are interested in…”The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” will soon be available as an audio book, read by the talented Broadway actor, James Romick. Watch for it. In stores soon!
My earlier bestselling novels, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” and “Anything Short of Murder” now joins “A Murder Amongst Angels” and “Murder is Such Sweet Revenge” on Amazon’s Kindle at new, low prices. Now you can have hours of adventure, thrills, mystery, and romance for the price of a cup of coffee- and just as stimulating! Look for it on Amazon. Print versions have also been reduced.
Also: The new Tom Logan mystery thriller, A Murder Amongst Angels .
Find them all on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. Also available at an affordable price on Kindle.
So much fun, that’s how I think of your blog posts. I loved both shows.
Thank you, Cherley. I really appreciate your comment!
M.M. Gornell says
Loved your insider perspective on Fess Parker. I always liked the persona he presented and it’s so nice to know the man behind the characters was so lovely.
Thank you sharing–I liked a lot.
Thank you again, Madeline. I truly appreciate your feedback. Fess was the real thing, and it makes you really enjoy his performances when you revisit them today. He was an icon back in the 1950s, and truly lived up to it until his dying day.