An actor indelibly associated with classic Americana given his iconic portrayals of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, tall, tousle-haired Fess Parker began life in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in nearby San Angelo, where his parents farmed peanuts and watermelons, and raised cattle. Following service in the military during WWII (where he participated in "clean-up" operations in the Philippines), Parker returned to the United States, and attended both the University of Texas and the University of California. He soon discovered a flair for acting and hit the stage in the touring company of Mister Roberts, then entered films in 1952, enjoying his first sizeable role -- a Southern-accented ballplayer -- in The Kid From Left Field (1953). It was his one-scene bit as a terrified witness to an "alien close encounter" in the 1954 horror classic Them! (1954), however, that brought Parker to the attention of Walt Disney, and somewhat ironically. Disney had considered casting a major Hollywood star as Crockett (such as Glenn Ford or Sterling Hayden), but gave up on this idea and, it is said, briefly considered future Gunsmoke headliner James Arness. Walt went to see the Arness-starrer Them! for this reason, and passed on Arness for Crockett but felt instantly convinced (and supposedly shouted out "There's our Crockett!") when Parker appeared on the screen.
The actor began by portraying Crockett on ABC's Disneyland television series, and the rest is history: during the period of 1954-6, Davy Crockett mania swept through the country, first with the smash single "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," then with a blizzard of Crockett-themed merchandise aimed squarely at small children - everything from lunchboxes, to action figures, to the quintessential Davy Crockett coonskin cap.