Fess Elisha Parker Jr.
Actor, Ex 1947
Fess Elisha Parker, Jr., was born on August 16, 1924, in Fort Worth Texas and was raised in San Angelo. Parker graduated from San Angelo High School, where he was a member of the football team.
Following service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Parker moved to Abilene and attended Hardin-Simmons University from 1943 to 1947. He transferred to the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a degree in Law. While at the University of Texas, his ambitions turned toward acting and he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from there in 1950.
Parker moved to California and began to work toward his Master’s degree in drama at the University of Southern California. Fess Parker began acting professionally in 1951. His big break came in 1954 when The Walt Disney Company signed Fess to play the title role in Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. In 1964 he began filming his network television series, Daniel Boone. The show ran for six years and was one of the highest rated shows of its time.
Parker continued to star in numerous box office hits for Disney, Paramount, and Warner Brothers’ Studios, while laying the foundation for his second career as real estate developer. Blending his gracious Texas hospitality and tremendous eye for real estate development, Parker built his first resort hotel in Santa Barbara, California in 1986. In 1987, he purchased a 714 acre ranch 35 miles north of Santa Barbara, where he planned and established Fess Parker’s Winery & Vineyard. In 1998, Parker purchased The Grand Hotel in Los Olivos, California.
Fess Parker married Marcella Rinehart in 1960 in Santa Barbara. The Parkers have lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. Active in several local and national civic organizations, Fess is passionate about The Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
Parker was named a Disney Legend in 1991. He was awarded the Medal of Arts by the Texas Cultural Trust Council in 2003.
Fess Parker has been described as proud, mild-mannered, strong-willed, and tenacious: qualities which were personified in his portrayals of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.