Fess Parker, who died earlier today of natural causes at age 85, was mostly known for his television work. “Davy Crockett,” which aired as part of the Disneyland anthology series, was a major hit in the ’50s, and Daniel Boone was quite successful in the ’60s.
Parker, however, also appeared in a number of feature films, most notably in the 1959 Disney production Old Yeller, co-starring Dorothy McGuire. He also had a supporting role in the horror movie Them! (1954), about giant ants. Reportedly, that stint as a terrified ant victim led to his TV stardom in “Davy Crockett.”
“I left the business after 22 years,” he told The Associated Press in 2001. “It was time to leave Hollywood. I came along at a time when I’m starting out with Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Sterling Hayden and Gregory Peck. Who needed a guy running around in a coonskin cap?” (Actually, Cooper started out in the ’20s, Wayne in the ’30s, and Hayden and Peck in the ’40s. Parker’s up-and-coming contemporaries were more like Rock Hudson, Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, and Charlton Heston.)
After quitting show business in the early ’70s, Parker went into real estate and grew wine grapes.