Actor Fess Parker of Santa Barbara, California has been called by some an American icon. His portrayal of frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone impacted millions of young viewers in the late 1950's and 60's.
Originally from Texas, Parker enrolled at the University of Texas where he graduated in 1950 with a degree in history. Moving to California, he completed academic work on his Masters degree in drama at the University of Southern California. Parker began acting professionally in 1951 as a stage performer in the national company of Mister Roberts. In 1954, Walt Disney signed Parker to play the title role in Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.
In 1964 Parker began filming his network television series, Daniel Boone. During six years as one of the highest rated shows of its time, Parker not only starred in the series but co-produced it and directed five of its most popular episodes. 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 in 1986. Set on 23.5 ocean front acres, Fess Parker's Double Tree Resort faces one of Santa Barbara's nicest beaches. The Parker family is planning a new luxury waterfront hotel, adjacent to 10 acres of public parkland donated by the Parker Family Trust.
In 1987, Parker purchased a 714 acre ranch thirty five miles north of Santa Barbara, in the Santa Ynez Valley, where he promptly set about planning and establishing Fess Parker's Winery & Vineyard. His son, Eli (Fess III), is President and Director of Winemaking & Vineyard Operations. His daughter, Ashley, is Vice President of Marketing & Sales.
Together, as a family, the Parkers have received numerous awards for producing some of the region's finest wines.
In 1998, Parker purchased The Grand Hotel in Los Olivos, just minutes from his winery. The charming 21 room Victorian-style Inn is now called “Fess Parker's Wine Country Inn & Spa”. Visiting guests often had the opportunity to see the legend himself, as he frequently dined in the restaurant.
Fess Parker and his wife, Marcella, lived in Santa Barbara County for more than thirty years. Active in several local and national civic organizations, the Parkers were passionate about The Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. This Foundation helps develop young musicians vocally and instrumentally for future careers.
They raised two children and currently have 11 grandchildren, and one great grand son.
We miss his wisdom, his sincere smile and his wonderful friendship.