King of the Wild Frontier

Available on eBay

The Davy Crockett craze began just before Christmas in 1954. Soon thereafter, it swept the country as Disney’s popular television series starring Fess Parker as Crockett and Buddy Ebsen as sidekick George Russell converted everyday kids into kings of the wild frontier.

With the news that actor Fess Parker died at 85, it is hard not to think back some fifty five years past his more current activities in real estate and wine making, and remember his TV roles as Crockett and as Daniel Boone and his movie roles in such films as “The Great Locomotive Chase” and “Old Yeller.”

While today’s kids eat the latest cell phones and MP3 players and designer running shoes like candy, Crockett fans could not only sing the “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” with the annoying frequency a later generation would sing “It’s a Small World Isn’t It,” we had our own (rather low-tech) memorabilia. We not only knew that Crockett was born on a table top in Tennessee, we carried our Davy lunch boxes to schools and parks and ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on our 1950s table tops dreaming of heading west and doing great deeds.

The lucky kids not only carried a Davy Crockett rifle, they boasted of the whole shooting match: bag, bandanna, bank, bathrobe, bead spread, belt, billfold, books, boots, bowls, buttons, caps, cap pistol, cards, China, clothes rack, cookie jar, coonskin cap, cuff links, cup, drums, flashlight, guitar, handcuffs, jacket, knife, lamp, moccasin kit, mug, nightlight, pajamas, pitcher, powder horn, puzzle, records (vinyl), ring, spurs, thermos, tie and wristwatch.

The faux coonskin caps were a must and we wore them bravely because there was danger in the back yard and the park, and in the dark rooms of the house after we went bed with our Davy Crockett flashlights and nightlights. We were not, however, allowed to wear the caps to school or to church, a risk that didn’t make any sense at the time.

My brothers and I looking for bad guys

Parker was tall, rugged, and seemingly pulled into Disney’s TV shows and films straight from 19th century days when the world needed a man, as the song reminded us, who “when Now, Injun fightin’ is somethin’ he knows, so he shoulders his rifle an’ off he goes.”

When I saw Parker as Daniel Boon in the 1964-1970 TV series, Jim Coats in “Old Yeller” with Dorothy McGuire and Tommy Kirk, and as James Andrews in “The Great Locomotive Chase” with Jeffrey Hunter and Slim Pickens, it was always the same guy; no, not a one-dimensional actor, but a dramatic, justice-seeking hero with or without his coonskin cap who “made hisself a legend for evermore.”


Each purchase supports Glacier Park

8 thoughts on “King of the Wild Frontier

  1. Pingback: King of the Wild Frontier | Celebrity news

  2. I figured you would have similar memories of Fess Parker. My siblings and I had the caps and sang the song all the time. I locked in on the “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead” philosophy he promoted. And Old Yeller is still one of my favorite stories/movies. It would not be bad to have heroic figures like Parker in this day and time.

    • The “be sure you’re right” philosophy is a good one. I liked Old Yeller, too, but have probably seen The Great Locomotive Chase more often. The Locomotive “General” is, of course, on display in the Atlanta area, so that keeps the story alive around here.


  3. I remember liking the series too, although I don’t remember that all of the trapping ever reaching Montana. That photo of you and your brothers is priceless!

  4. I was going to comment on how much a fan my dad was, but I see he already beat me here! My son even wore a coon skin cap not so many years ago! (You can still get them at the Alamo I think)

    yeah, I wish my kids were still running around the back yard w/ their imaginations in full swing instead of “eating their cell phones, mp3s and designer shoes like candy”(if Vans count as “designer shoes”!)

    • Your dad’s the one who suggested writing this post! I haven’t been to the Alamo for ever, so I never thought about them still having those caps at their gift shop.

      Thanks for the visit.


Comments are closed.