Davy, Davy Crockett
inOctober 1, 2012 - 7:25am
I was about 6 years old when our family visited Cherokee, North Carolina. We drove the winding steep roads of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, watched the big black bears do tricks at a local tourist attraction, toured a reproduction Native American Village, went to the outdoor drama Unto These Hills and walked the streets of the town shopping the various souvenir shops, each of us three kids allowed to spend a small amount of money to purchase a memento of the trip. Mine was a faux coon skin cap, complete with tail hanging down the back. I wore that hat everywhere we went for the whole summer—everywhere. It’s in all the family pictures. I hadn’t thought about my coon skin cap in a long time until I pulled an old LP album out of a box of records to be listed in our shop, Sienna’s Sandbox on Ruby Lane, and it all came rushing back. Staring at me from the front of a bright yellow album, still factory sealed from 1969, was my hero—Davy Crockett himself in his coon skin cap. Well actually, it was Fess Parker, but for most of America in the 1950s Fess Parker WAS Davy Crockett. And his name actually became synonymous with two of America’s most beloved heroes, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone through his television portrayals of the men.
When Disney was casting the part for the bigger-than-life Davy Crockett, Parker wasn’t on their short list—James Arness, the big actor best known as Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke for 20 years, was actually the man they were considering. The casting director was watching a clip of Arness in a B rated movie and Fess Parker happened to have a small role in the same movie. Surprisingly it was Parker that made the better impression and was called in for the interview rather than Arness—and he brought his guitar along and sang them a song. He got the part and he sang the now famous theme song that a generation of kids knows word for word, “Born on a mountain in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free, raised in the woods so's he knew every tree, he killed him a b'ar when he was only three. Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier. . .”
Although the term was not yet coined, Davy Crocket became the first televised mini-series. It also led to a merchandizing bonanza for Disney that lasted for years beyond the 1954-1955 televised show, including this album from 1969.
From 1964-1970 Fess Parker starred in, produced and sometimes directed his own television series, Daniel Boone on NBC. It was one of the highest rate shows of its time. But as iconic as he had become, Fess Parker never won an award for his roles as America’s favorite heroes. Nonetheless, this record was proof of just how much he impacted the youngsters of an entire generation. I showed my mom the record and said, “Hey do you remember this guy?” At 53 years old, I knew she had to be one of those kids who had been glued to her TV set back in the day. She said, “He was Daniel Boone, that was my favorite show!” Then immediately she asked, “Do you remember that summer when you wouldn’t take off that silly coon skin cap?” Of course I did, so we spent the next few hours digging through old photo albums looking for pictures from the summer of ’87. We had a great time reliving all our memories and that’s what collectables are all about!
Written by Ben Brown
Sienna’s Sandbox on Ruby Lane