Fess Parker, whose iconic portrayal of frontiersman Davy Crockett made him a TV and film star starting in the mid-1950s, died Thursday (March 18) at the age of 85, according to multiple news reports.
A family spokesman told The Associated Press that Parker died at his home of natural causes. Parker was said to be coherent and communicating with his family just minutes before his passing.
Parker launched "Davy Crockett" in December 1954, quickly inspiring an American fad for the coonskin cap his character wore in the show. The three episodes were repurposed the following year as a feature film called "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier." He followed up that success with a string of Disney films like "Old Yeller" and "Westward Ho the Wagons!"
In the 1960s, Parker again found fame on TV as the star of "Daniel Boone," another show about a frontiersman wearing a coonskin cap. The series ran for six seasons, from 1964 until 1970. Following the conclusion of "Boone," Parker would rarely be seen on the small screen and instead became a real-estate developer and winemaker.
"I left the business after 22 years," he told the AP in 2001. "It was time to leave Hollywood. I came along at a time when I'm starting out with Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Sterling Hayden and Gregory Peck. Who needed a guy running around in a coonskin cap?"
Parker died at his Santa Ynez Valley, California, home on the 84th birthday of his wife, Marcella, to whom he'd been married for 50 years.
"She's a wreck," the family's spokesman said.
Arrangements for a funeral will be announced later.