Fess Parker (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 1955–56 TV mini-series. According to Parker himself, when the Walt Disney Company was looking for an actor to play Davy Crockett, they originally considered James Arness for the title role. Parker had recently graduated to 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 a 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 he was told 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 (1955–56) 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 they were all basically the same role. Disney refused to loan Parker for roles outside of that persona, such as The Searchers and Bus Stop.
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