The baby boy was born on August 16, 1924, in Fort Worth, Texas, but it wasn’t long before he was spending his summers (and any other time he could wheedle his parents out of) in Comanche County, with his grandparents who lived near De Leon.
By the time he was a year old, the boy was learning to ride a horse. Soon his grandparents were teaching him to do all kinds of fun things like milking cows and walking behind a plow.
The boy grew to be a very good football player, when the coach could make him mad enough to hit, that is! Then, the country entered into WWII, and the young man tried to enlist. He was refused because he was too tall. Later, the navy decided that maybe it needed young men like the boy, and the young Texan was drafted and sent for training in California.
While there, the young man saw Hollywood, and he liked what he saw!
After the war, the boy turned man returned to Texas and went to Hardin-Simmons University where he was a speech major. While there, he won a part in one of the school’s plays…and then he transferred to the University of Texas, where he continued with his acting.
Next, the man with the ties to Comanche County went back to Hollywood….and lo and behold…not a soul was interested in his talent! Never one to say die, he enrolled in the University of Southern California where he pursued a master’s degree in theater history. And then he got his first break!
For $32.00 per week, he was hired to be an extra with a summer theater touring company whose star was Henry Fonda. And FINALLY he had something he could take back to Hollywood with him to put on a resume…no matter that he had never spoken a word during his entire time on stage.
Sure enough, the man won his first part in the movie, Untamed Frontier, starring Joseph Cotten and Shelley Winters, and when the studio wanted to change his name, he replied, “I was born Fess and I’m gonna die Fess.”
And if you haven’t guessed it by now, that young man who used to love the countryside of Comanche County eventually came into most of our homes each week in the role of Davy Crockett…played by Fess Parker.