Fess Parker

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Fess Parker (1924-2010) talks about his childhood in Texas and his eventual journey to Hollywood after a visit during his military service in World War II. He discusses his early roles in filmed westerns and his early television roles, including Dragnet and Annie Oakley. Parker talks about being hired by Disney in 1954 to play the lead in Davy Crockett, and expounds on the show becoming a pop culture phenomenon, and the impact of the show. He recounts several guest-appearances on shows like My Little Margie, and Playhouse 90, as well as his starring role on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He recalls starring in Daniel Boone, and concludes by discussing his retirement, and advice to an aspiring actor. Don Carleton conducted the interview on July 24, 2000 in Los Olivos, CA.

"It's been a formula that I've used most of my life: ignorance plus optimism."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Fess Parker and starring in and producing Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and on discussing his role with Jimmy Stewart
Fess Parker on being cast in the starring role on Daniel Boone
Fess Parker on meeting Walt Disney and being cast in Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on promoting Davy Crockett with Buddy Ebsen, and on how children reacted to him as the character
Fess Parker on ideas he has had to bring back Davy Crockett
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his experiences during World War II
On deciding he wanted to be an actor, and on going to college; on acting in college; on deciding to move to Los Angeles, and on meeting actor Adolphe Menjou

Chapter 2

On being cast on stage in "Mister Roberts"; on his early career in feature films; on his early television appearance on an episode of Dragnet with Jack Webb
On meeting Walt Disney and being cast in Davy Crockett; on learning about Davy Crockett after he was cast in Davy Crockett; on the challenges of playing "Davy Crockett"

Chapter 3

On the challenges of playing "Davy Crockett," and on the themes of the show; on the portrayal of Native Americans in Davy Crockett; on Helene Stanley as "Polly Crockett" on Davy Crockett, and on how he played "Davy Crockett"
On his input into the scripts for Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, and on the accuracy of the shows; on Buddy Ebsen as "George Russel" on Davy Crockett, and the rest of the cast of the show
On the costume he wore for Davy Crockett, including the iconic coonskin cap, and on the locations; on promoting Davy Crockett with Buddy Ebsen, and on how children reacted to him as the character

Chapter 4

On being recognized from Davy Crockett; on who Davy Crockett was in real life, and on what the series showed of the man; on Davy Crockett portraying "Crockett's" transition to public life and politics
On the end of Davy Crockett at the Alamo; on ideas he has had to bring back Davy Crockett; on the merchandizing of the show

Chapter 5

On the merchandizing of Davy Crockett, and on the music from the show; on his favorite scenes from Davy Crockett, and on the impact the show had on Disney Studios and Disneyland; on the legacy of Davy Crockett, and on his longstanding association with the character
On the first time he saw television, and on his early experience with the medium; on My Little Margie with Gale Storm, the Playhouse 90 episode "Turn Left at Mount Everest," and the feature film "Westward Ho, the Wagons!"; on starring in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Chapter 6

On starring in and producing Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; on guest-starring on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
On being cast as "Daniel Boone," and on the cast and crew of the show; on directing Daniel Boone; on how the historical figure Daniel Boone was portrayed on Daniel Boone
On favorite episode of Daniel Boone, and on the end of the show; on starring in Climb an Angry Mountain, and on an unsold pilot he made

Chapter 7

On his retirement from acting, and on his activities since; on advice to an aspiring actor; on the fan mail he receives
On mentors in his career; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

Alfred Hitchcock Presents aka The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

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Fess Parker on guest-starring on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Daniel Boone

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Fess Parker on his input into the scripts for Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, and on the accuracy of the shows
Fess Parker on being cast in the starring role on Daniel Boone
Fess Parker on the cast and crew of Daniel Boone
Fess Parker on directing Daniel Boone
Fess Parker on how the historical figure Daniel Boone was portrayed on Daniel Boone
Fess Parker on favorite episode of Daniel Boone, and on the end of the show

Davy Crockett

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Fess Parker on meeting Walt Disney and being cast in Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on learning about Davy Crockett after he was cast in Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on the challenges of playing "Davy Crockett"
Fess Parker on the challenges of playing "Davy Crockett," and on the themes of the show
Fess Parker on the portrayal of Native Americans in Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on Helene Stanley as "Polly Crockett" on Davy Crockett, and on how he played "Davy Crockett"
Fess Parker on his input into the scripts for Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, and on the accuracy of the shows
Fess Parker on Buddy Ebsen as "George Russel" on Davy Crockett, and the rest of the cast of the show
Fess Parker on the costume he wore for Davy Crockett, including the iconic coonskin cap, and on where the show was shot
Fess Parker on promoting Davy Crockett with Buddy Ebsen, and on how children reacted to him as the character
Fess Parker on being recognized from Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on who Davy Crockett was in real life, and on what the series showed of the man
Fess Parker on Davy Crockett portraying "Crockett's" transition to public life and politics
Fess Parker on the end of Davy Crockett at the Alamo
Fess Parker on ideas he has had to bring back Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on the merchandizing of Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on the merchandizing of Davy Crockett, and on the music from the show
Fess Parker on his favorite scenes from Davy Crockett, and on the impact the show had on Disney Studios and Disneyland
Fess Parker on the legacy of Davy Crockett, and on his longstanding association with the character

My Little Margie

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Fess Parker on appearing on My Little Margie with Gale Storm

Playhouse 90

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Fess Parker on appearing on the Playhouse 90 episode "Turn Left at Mount Everest"
Topics

Advice

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Fess Parker on advice to an aspiring actor

Characters & Catchphrases

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Fess Parker on the costume he wore for Davy Crockett, including the iconic coonskin cap

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Fess Parker on mentors in his career

Fame and Celebrity

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Fess Parker on being recognized from Davy Crockett

Historic Events and Social Change

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Fess Parker on his experience during World War II

Pivotal Career Moments

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Fess Parker on mentors in his career

Pop Culture

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Fess Parker on the costume he wore for Davy Crockett, including the iconic coonskin cap
Fess Parker on being recognized from Davy Crockett

Television Industry

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Fess Parker on advice to an aspiring actor

War

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Fess Parker on his experience during World War II

World War II

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Fess Parker on his experience during World War II
Professions

Actor

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Fess Parker on advice to an aspiring actor

Performers

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Fess Parker on advice to an aspiring actor
Genres

Children's Programming

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Fess Parker on starring in Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on starring in Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone
Fess Parker on starring on Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on starring on Davy Crockett

Classic Anthology Series

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Fess Parker on appearing on the Playhouse 90 episode "Turn Left at Mount Everest"
Fess Parker on guest-starring on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Comedy Series

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Fess Parker on appearing on My Little Margie with Gale Storm
Fess Parker on starring in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Fess Parker and starring in and producing Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Fess Parker on starring in Climb an Angry Mountain, and on an unsold pilot he made

Western Series

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Fess Parker on starring in Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on starring in Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone
Fess Parker on starring on Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on starring on Davy Crockett
Fess Parker on starring on Daniel Boone
People

Walt Disney

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Fess Parker on meeting Walt Disney and being cast in Davy Crockett

Buddy Ebsen

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Fess Parker on Buddy Ebsen as "George Russel" on Davy Crockett, and the rest of the cast of the show
Fess Parker on promoting Davy Crockett with Buddy Ebsen, and on how children reacted to him as the character

Ronald Reagan

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Fess Parker on losing out on a part to Ronald Reagan

Jimmy Stewart

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Fess Parker on starring in and producing Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and on discussing his role with Jimmy Stewart

Gale Storm

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Fess Parker on appearing on My Little Margie with Gale Storm

Jack Webb

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Fess Parker on his early television appearance on an episode of Dragnet with Jack Webb

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