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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


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Fess Dies Today at 85

Davy Crockey, Daniel Boone, the dad on Old Yeller

As a kid growing up in the mountains north of Santa Barbara, CA, I lived a little like the boys on Old Yeller (except we had cars and electricity and stuff).  I even made a home movie in my backyard based on Old Yeller, starring my own dog.  

My dad would take us to a little restaurant in Santa Ynez for lunch because he knew Fess Parker ate there often.  I loved seeing him at the next table and thinking "I'm eating chicken strips next to Davy Crocket".  I never had the guts to do more than just look at the guy.  He looked like an older version of Davy Crocket and the dad on Old Yeller and sounded exactly the same.

Walt and Fess, Disneyland 1955

2004 ceremony honoring Parker with a Frontierland Window

Just last week I listened to the audio commentary on the Old Yeller DVD to hear Fess Parker talk about his experience, and thought to myself, "I hope he lives for many years to come".  I only wish I went up to the old man in that little restaurant one of those times and chatted for a minute about his cool legacy.



Reader Comments (6)

I think a window in Frontierland is cooler than one on Main Street. It's just more unique. Plus Frontierland exists mostly thanks to Fess Parker. That guy was the real deal. A real man if I ever saw one.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJosef

I bet those Guest Relations people behind him have never seen one of his movies and have no clue who he is. That's my prediction.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Aw you had to mention the Mike Fink Keel Boats. I loved those things. Few people know where the name came from. It's from Davy Crockett and the River Pirates movie where he raced the drunken Mike Fink down the river in keel boats. Good movie.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermolly_tompson_88

Kicked Finks butt in the shooting match. Hats off to "Crockett.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFi Fi Phloggs

Ha ha. Yes he did.

The actor who played Mike Fink was Jeff York. Remember the character Bud Searcy on Old Yeller who annoyed the mom when he came to offer help but then never helped, that is Jeff York. That is a great part of the movie. He's a bearded know-it-all with a fat gut who didn't go with the other men wherever they went. He stayed behind to help the "womenfolk". He offers up his daughter to harvest the corn with the oldest son.

If you have not seen this movie lately, you should. It's great in so mant ways.

March 20, 2010 | Registered CommenterMitch

I have an interesting story to share about the first picture in this post, the one with Fess holding the rifle over his head. Way back in 1992 I had the pleasure of spending a weekend in Chicago with Fess to re-open the Museum of Broadcast Communications. We were on a panel together to discuss old Disney television and attended a few other events. I was absolutely thrilled to be spending time with a childhood hero. Fess was just a great guy. We were both pilots so we had a lot to talk about. My dad was there as well and we all had a great time "swapping yarns."

At one point I pulled out a copy of that photo and asked Fess if he would autograph it for me. As he did, he said that he had always hated that picture. I was amazed and asked why. Well, it turns out that Walt was there that day watching the filming. Fess said every time he looked at the picture he thought of Walt standing there watching with a cigarette in his hand. It made him think that if Walt hadn't been a heavy smoker he might have lived much longer.

While I still have that picture, the next time we got together I had him sign a different one.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill Cotter

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