March 18th, 2010
03:45 PM ET

'Crockett,' 'Boone' actor Fess Parker dead at 85

Fess Parker, best known for playing Daniel Boone in a 1960s television series, died Thursday at his home near Santa Barbara, California, his publicist said.

Parker followed his acting career with successful hotel and winery ventures around Santa Barbara.

A statement issued by his family did not reveal the cause of death.

Parker is survived by his wife of 50 years, Marcella, their son and daughter, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild who "spent a great deal of time with Fess in his final months and weeks," the statement said.

A native of Texas, Parker served in the U.S. Navy during World War II before graduating from the University of Texas-Austin in 1950.
He moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s to pursue acting.

Walt Disney cast Parker in the lead role of "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier," co-starring Buddy Ebsen. He followed that with several more Disney films, including "Davy Crockett and the River Boat Pirates," "The Great Locomotive Chase" and "Smoky."

His TV career took off in 1964 with the title role in NBC's "Daniel Boone," which aired for for six seasons. When the series ended in 1970, Parker became a real estate developer in Santa Barbara.

"After successfully opening three high-end mobile home parks, the 360-room Fess Parker Doubletree Resort opened in 1985," the family statement said. "It is one of the most successful hotels on the Santa Barbara waterfront."

Parker and his family also opened Fess Parker Winery on the Foxen in Los Olivos, California.

–CNN's Brittany Kaplan contributed to this report.

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  1. Tony

    Whether it was Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone, Fess Parker performed both roles with charm and grace. If you were a 1950s baby boomer, he was Davy Crockett. If you were a 1960s baby boomer, he was Daniel Boone. Not to tell my age but I knew and enjoyed both "heros" and Fess Parker was the perfect actor to play those roles. Those two characters have become national patriotic icons because of Mr. Parker's ability to interpret and project the american pioneer spirit as embodied in those two historical characters. Thank you for that Mr. Parker.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mcrobber

    Brought much joy to many!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Skip

    Fess Parker played Davy Crockett in the mid '50's DISNEYLAND TV Series... Buddy Ebsen played his partner, George Russel... Never missed an episode!!! I loved it... Fess also sang the theme song...

    March 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    We joined the Fess Parker wine club a few years back and even met Fess and his daughter and son at his winery during a Wine Release Day BBQ. Very nice, down to earth people. I was very impressed with his kids. Kudos to Marcella and Fess!

    To the Fess Parker Family, Thank you for Sharing him with us. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daniel F. Kirk

    For those of us who grew up watching Davy Crockett, that's who Fess Parker was–Davy Crockett, Indian fighter. I'll miss him and he is a part of my childhood from 1955 through about 1965. It was Davy Crockett swinging his rifle on top of the Alamo with no more ammo, outnumbered and surrounded, beating the crap out of Santa Anna's troops who I will remember. Anybody who watched that as a kid knows how to flip somebody, Indian style.
    Davy showed us how.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. stilllearning

    He played both Davy Crockett AND Daniel Boone.

    He will be missed.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joe

    The thoughts in every mans head will remember him as they saw him. He is one of the true example of a fine man to live up to. Rest In Peace Mr. Parker.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nancy hoffman

    Was there ever a time a celebrity passed away and we only had positive comments? I am sorry my grandchildren won't have that kind of role model on t.v. after school. Somehow, Walt Disney's Britney Spears, et al are not worthy substitutes.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob Elmore

    My wife and I met Fess, his daughter and wine maker at their winery one early Saturday morning. The place was still in construction and no one was there when we pulled up. To our absolute amazement Fess came out and opened the car door for my wife and then proceeded to show us around. He was so incredibly gratious and we had a great time talking for nearly 2 hours. In the end he signed a case of wine for us and then carried the case out to our car. That was a total surprise! All the while I could not help but be totally blown away thinking that this was the man I grew up watching on TV. This was Daniel Boone! And here he was talking for nearly 2 hours with us personally and then helping us out to the car. What a gentlemen and a genuinely nice person! I will never forget that day, and oh yes, we still have one of the bottles left as a keep sake. All our best to the family.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    My favorite role of Fess was the pilot that crashed after seeing "Them!". He was perfect in that part!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jeff jackson

    I still have a Davy Crockett coffee cup from the
    50's. All my friends had the racoon hat and the
    Davy Crockett theme was a bigger hit than
    Hound Dog by Elvis.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. zib hammad

    I lived in Santa Barbara County when Fess was pushing his Doubletree Hotel project on television. He promised the community that the majority of the site would be open space. After approval by the voters, the open space turned out to be parking lot. My opinion of his honesty changed 180 degrees after that. Just another developer.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sandydc

    RIP, Fess Parker. I worked with him once on an RV advertising campaign and he was a lovely, kind man.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. red18

    Unfortunately another great actor slips away.... they just don't make them like him any more. His role as Davey Crockett was one that probably every 60 year old remembers when they were tv watching so many years ago. Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates, Clint Walker and Fess Parker contributed to the great American cowboy shows as no others did.

    Best wishes to his family

    March 18, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Deanna

    He will be greatly missed by all of us Baby boomers who grew up watching him in both roles of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.
    My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
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