FESS PARKER: TV'S FRONTIER HERO (hardback)
Fess Parker was an American film and television actor, who also was known as the owner of the Fess Parker Winery along the famous Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, and he was also a resort owner-operator.
Fess grew up in Texas. After serving in World War II, he began his show-business career in the summer of 1951 as an extra in the play Mister Roberts. His work in films began as 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 Cotton and Shelley Winters.
Fess became a contract player with Warner Bros., 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 Great Dalton in the Jim Davis syndicated Western anthology series, Stories of the Century in the episode “The Dalton Brothers.”
Walt Disney picked him over James Arness and other actors to star as Davy Crockett in a three-part mini series entitled Davy Crockett (1954–55), a tremendous hit that led to a merchandising frenzy for coonskin caps and all things Crockett.
Fess 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 also appeared on many television programs, and he 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. Fess appeared in a small assortment of movies, including supporting roles in The Jayhawkers! (1959) with Jeff Chandler and Hell Is for Heroes (1962) with Steve McQueen. In 1962, he starred in the title role of the TV series Mr Smith Goes to Washington, portraying the same idealistic character that James Stewart had played in the 1939 film. Fess took to the stage in 1963, in a traveling production of Oklahoma!
In 1964, Fess appeared in Daniel Boone, another television series, portraying another historic figure of America's frontier days. The action-adventure television series aired from September 24, 1964 to September 10, 1970 on NBC for 165 episodes and was one of the highest rated shows of its time. Fess was not only the star of the series but also the co-producer and director of five of its most popular episodes
William R. Chemerka has written an authorized biography, a respectful tribute to an amazing man, and the book also features thoughtful recollections from Fess’ family, friends, co-stars, and fans, and includes a number of never-before-published photographs. 416 pages. Illustrated. First Edition.
"Put on your coonskin cap and enjoy William Chemerka’s respectful tribute to an amazing man who believed in and lived the American Dream."
- Western Clippings
"In FESS PARKER, TV’S FRONTIER HERO Bill Chemerka has done a splendid, thoughtful, thorough job tracing the life and films of Fess Parker. The 409 page softback not only traces this special man’s life but includes behind the scenes making of “Davy Crockett” and “Daniel Boone”, filled with lively anecdotes and warm memories from Parker’s family, friends, co-stars and fans. A number of never before published photos are featured. Well worth a read! Foreword by Ron Ely."
- Western Clippings
By the mid-fifties, there seemed to be only one idol for US male youth: Fess Parker. His role as Davy Crockett in the eponymous TV miniseries by Walt Disney not only ensured high ratings, but also triggered a nowadays hardly imaginable "Crockett Craze". Almost every boy suddenly wore Crockett's trapper cap from the fur and tail of a raccoon. Incidentally, in the first part of the "Back to the Future" trilogy, there are several references to this phenomenon of the time. In Europe, of course, such an American fashion flow was much more moderate, but also achieved here Fess Parker a high profile. After the end of the "Davy Crockett" series, however, there were hardly attractive roles for the actor at Disney. Some westerns like "In Secret Mission" or "The Fearless Train" followed, but the enthusiasm of the youngsters caused by "Crockett" declined rapidly. It was not until the sixties that Fess was able to build on his earlier successes. For several seasons, he took over the title role of the TV Western series "Daniel Boone", and helped NBC so again to high ratings. And here he wore his now legendary hat made of raccoon fur. After then the plans for a "Fess Parker TV show" could not be implemented, Fess withdrew from film and television roles. He now devoted himself to real estate business, the construction of a resort, and above all the successful cultivation and at least as successful marketing of California wine. The author tells this unusual life story in great detail and presents it mostly positive dar. There were, of course, in addition to the roles briefly mentioned here more work in Hollywood and on television. And there was also private life, which included his exactly fifty-year marriage, as well as his children. The book is sufficiently illustrated with b / w photographs, mostly privately shot photos. If you want, you can also get a hardcover edition for the price of US $ 34.95 (ISBN 978-1-59393-210-7). Fess Parker died of natural causes in 2010 at the age of 85. what his exactly fifty-year marriage, and his children belonged to.
-- Ulrich K. Baues, Country Mag: Online Mag for Music and More (Germany)