FESS PARKER BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Fess Parker was born August 16th, 1924 in Fort Worth, Texas, USA with the name Fess Elisha Parker Jr. He grew up in San Angelo and his parents worked as farmers farming peanuts, watermelons and raising cattle. Parker served in the military during World War II returned to the United States, and attended the University of Texas where he graduated with a degree in history in 1950.
He then moved to California and received a Masters from the University of California in Drama. In 1951 he joined the touring company of Mister Roberts and the following year he took his step into the film industry.
Fess Parker's 6'5" frame made him suitable for westerns and he had a bit part in "Springfield Rifle" (1952) starring Gary Cooper, Phyllis Thaxter, Lon Chaney Jr., David Brian, Paul Kelly, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, James Millican, Philip Carey, Martin Milner and Alan Hale Jr. This soon followed with one of the classic aviation films of all time, "Island in the Sky" (1953) starring John Wayne, Lloyd Nolan, James Arness, Harry Carey Jr., Andy Devine, Paul Fix, Mike Connors, Sean McClory, Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer and Darryl Hickman.
His first decent role was in, “The Kid From Left Field” (1953) starring Dan Dailey, Anne Bancroft and Billy Chapin, followed by a horror classic, “Them!” (1954) starring James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon and James Arness. Parkers’ role in this film caught the attention of Walt Disney and this same year, 1954, Disney signed Parker to play the role of Davy Crockett, “King of the Wild Frontier” with Buddy Ebsen as his sidekick George Russell. While under personal contract to Walt Disney, Fess made numerous pictures for the studio until 1958, including the prequel "Davy Crockett and the River Boat Pirates" co-starring Buddy Ebsen, Jeff York and Kenneth Tobey, “The Great Locomotive Chase" (1956) featuring Jeffrey Hunter, John Lupton, Harry Carey Jr., Kenneth Tobey, Don Megowan and Slim Pickens, “Westward Ho, the Wagons!” (1957) co-starring Kathleen Crowley, Jeff York, David Stollery, Iron Eyes Cody, Sebastian Cabot, Morgan Woodward, George Reeves and John War Eagle, the classic “Old Yeller” (1957) starring with Dorothy McGuire, Tommy Kirk, Jeff York, Kevin Corcoran and Beverly Washburn, “Light in the Forest” (1958) starring alongside James MacArthur, Joanne Dru, Wendell Corey, Jessica Tandy and Carol Lynley and "The Jayhawkers" (1959) also starring Jeff Chandler, Henry Silva, Nicole Maurey and Leo Gordon.
His film stardom began to slow down after 1959, Parker started a family by marrying Marcella Rinehart in 1960 and together they had two children, a son Eli and a daughter, Ashley. Four years later in 1964 Parker began filming his network television series, “Daniel Boone”. This was a six year project and was one of the highest rated series of all times. Not only was he an actor in this series he co produced and directed five of the six most popular episodes.
Parker continued to work in film as well with Disney, Paramount pictures and Warner Brother’s Studios. Parker signed for his last dramatic role in, “Climb An Angry Mountain” (1972) also starring Marj Dusay, Arthur Hunnicutt and Barry Nelson.
He was not only pursuing his acting career but along side was also working on a career as a real estate developer. He opened three high end mobile park developments and then in 1986 he developed a resort hotel in Santa Barbara, California set on 23.5 ocean front acres.
A year later 35 miles north of Santa Barbara in Ynez Valley, he established Fess Parkers Winery and Vineyard which his son Eli and daughter Ashley helped run. In 1998 he purchased the Grand Hotel in Los Olivos and re named it Fess Parker’s Wine Country Inn and Spa.
The Parker’s were very passionate about Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara which helps youth develop their vocal and instrumental skills. Together him and his wife Marcella had 11 grandchildren and one great grandson.
Fess Parker passed away March 18, 2010 of natural causes in his home in Santa Ynez Valley at the age of 85. Throughout his career, he did receive numerous awards. Fess Parker was nominated for best new personality Emmy in 1954, but did not win. He was never nominated again, nor was his show Daniel Boone.
In 2003, Parker received the Texas Cultural Trust's, "Texas Medal of Arts Award", established only the year before. For his work with Disney, Parker was honored in December 2004 with his own tribute window on a facade in the Frontierland section of Disneyland. He is buried in Santa Barbara, California right next to his parents.
1952 Room for the Groom
1952 Untamed Frontier
1952 Springfield Rifle
1953 Take Me to Town
1953 The Kid from Left Field
1953 Island in the Sky
1953 Thunder Over the Plains
1954 Dragonfly Squadron
1954 The Bounty Hunter
1955 Battle Cry
1955 Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier
1956 The Great Locomotive Chase
1956 Davy Crockett and the River Pirates
1956 Westward Ho, The Wagons!
1957 Old Yeller
1958 The Light in the Forest
1959 The Hangman
1959 Alias Jesse James
1959 The Jayhawkers!
1962 Hell Is for Heroes
1966 Daniel Boone: Frontier Trail Rider