Parker began his career as an extra in the play ‘Mister Roberts’ starring Henry Fonda and then to a one day part in the sciene fiction movie, ‘Them’. According to Parker, “Walt Disney went to see ‘Them’ to decide if the star, James Arness, was right for the role of Davy Crockett. But he saw my one scene and decided to cast me. Disney told me, ‘I was impressed with that scene because you portrayed a man that was unswerving in his belief in what he saw (flying ants) despite the forces of authority against him.’”
Parker went on to star in more Disney movies, then TV’s Daniel Boone for six years. Next came a failed movie in 1973 and a failed ‘Fess Parker Show’ pilot for TV. Parker said, “When they have to sell a show with your name, that’s the end.”
Turning down the title role of ‘McCloud’, Parker retired from the film industry. About making a comeback, Parker said, “When you take yourself out of competition, you’re out. You’re out of mind.” That makes a good case for staying in the competition by constantly being productive in your chosen field.
Parker went on from small real estate deals to larger ones. With some Disney contacts he tried to open a Davy Crockett theme park in Kentucky. Parker said, “I made a mistake and told the competition about it and they began building Kings Island Amusement Park just two hours away, so my financing dried up. I was out of my league without a business background. I also failed when I sold my land in what is now the heart of Silicon Valley. But then I went to Santa Barbara, bought 32 acres next to the ocean and took 10 years to build my first hotel and winery.”
When asked to give advice for upcoming actors, his answer sounded like good advice for anyone with a dream. Parker said, “You have to have abandonment of reason and be in a zone where reality doesn’t exist. You have to be willing to endure disappointments and have a real commitment. Many times forgoing a social life because you can’t afford to do anything but eat.”
I’m a big fan of Fess Parker and I stayed a few times at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Hotel and always hope to see him there. Finally on my fifth visit there, eating lunch with my parents I told them, “I’ve given up look for Fess.”
That same day I was lounging in my room, something possessed me to go to the lobby and check my email at the computer there, which I had just done an hour ago. In the huge lobby I always took the same course, but this time decided to go a different way. As I did, two men walked in my path catching up with me. One of them was Davy Crockett. I didn’t want to disturb him. I just enjoyed walking with him until I went to the computer area and he went to the restaurant. I could see him sitting there and wondered what made me leave my room and cross the lobby in a new path? Miracles happen, if you listen to ‘the calling’.
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