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Published:April 3rd, 2012 10:22 EST

A Visit with the Original Deep South Super Hero Davy Crockett

By Tony Piazza

 A Visit with Disney`s Davy Crockett  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 is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel; Anything Short of Murder, " which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His new novel, The Curse of the Crimson Dragon " has just been released. He was an actor/extra during the 1970`s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.