Santa Barbara County, CA – Actor, developer and vintner Fess E. Parker, Jr passed away today, March 18th, 2010, at his home in the Santa Ynez Valley. Mr. Parker was 85 years old.
Born in Fort Worth, TX and raised in San Angelo, Fess served in the United States Navy during WWII and then returned home to Texas to graduate from the University of Texas-Austin in 1950. He was honored as a distinguished alum of the university in 1969.
A desire to act took Fess to California in the early 50’s where hard work and great good fortune led him to be cast in Walt Disney’s “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier” co-starring the late Buddy Ebsen. While under personal contract to Walt Disney, Fess made numerous pictures for the studio including the prequel “Davy Crockett and the River Boat Pirates” as well as The Great Locomotive Chase” and “Smoky.”
A successful television career in the 1960’s followed with NBC’s long running “Daniel Boone” show co-starring his friend and neighbor Ed Ames.
The early 70’s found Fess eager to explore the business world as a real estate developer in Santa Barbara, CA. After successfully opening three high end mobile home parks the 360 room Fess Parker Doubletree Resort opened in 1985. It is one of the most successful hotels on the Santa Barbara waterfront. A 150 room luxury hotel is also in the final stages of planning on an adjacent piece of beach front property.
In 1989 Fess and his family turned an interest in fine wine into an adventure now 20 years in the making. The Fess Parker Winery is a highly regarded and popular destination on the Foxen Canyon wine trail in Los Olivos, CA. The family also farms over 300 acres of vineyard in the Santa Ynez valley. Creating a successful business with his family was one of Fess’ proudest achievements.
Fess and his wife Marcella celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in January of 2010. Their son Eli and daughter Ashley, as well as 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild spent a great deal of time with Fess in his final months and weeks.
It should be said that Fess was always extremely grateful to his long time fans for their continued support and friendship over the years.