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Fess Parker

Fess Parker

In Association with Back To The Future: Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack

For whatever reason or reasons, not all the songs heard in the movie Back to the Future are included in the soundtrack CD.

"Ballad of Davy Crockett" (Performed by Fess Parker as Marty enters Lou's Cafe) is from the following CD.
Great American Heroes - Fess Parker

Fess was born on August 16, 1924. Against the wishes of his father, Fess' mother named him Fess E. Parker, Jr. The initial "E" stood for nothing but Fess adopted "Elisha". When he was a kid he learned somewhere that "Fess" was a common word meaning "proud" way back in the English language. When he got into show business, an agent suggested that he change his name to a more romantic type. Fess replied "I was born Fess and I'm gonna die Fess". He was only one year old when he started horseback riding.

Every summer from the age of 4 to 14, Fess spent on the farms and ranches belonging to his grandparents near DeLeon, Texas, and Dublin, Texas. He learned to plow, milk cows and all kinds of usual farm chores. He also learned quite a bit about cattle raising. At the age of twelve he was handy with a lariat.

Fess was slow to anger, but once he was riled, look out! This peaceful quality about Fess was puzzling to his high school football coach. To get the best out of Fess, who played end, the coach had to invent a way to get the big boy angry. Just before an important football game, the coach used to call for scrimmage and he'd assign a couple of battle loving linemen to rough Fess up. They'd prod him, butt him, kick him and anything they could think of to get Fess really sore. The only problem then was to keep him that way for game time.

Fess was a better than average student but his teachers had trouble getting him to focus on his studies. He loved to study, but he wanted to study whatever pleased his imagination and fancy. Everyone knew though that whatever Fess really wanted he would go after and get. When World War II came, Fess and a couple of friends decided to get into the Air Corps. Both the Air Corps and the Navy turned down his offer of services. At the time they weren't taking boys that tall. A few months later, the Navy changed its mind and drafted him.

Fess landed on the ship YMS 334, a 132-foot, shallow-draft sweeper whose job was to explode Japanese mines around the Philippines. In those ten months Fess saw no direct action on the mine sweep, and kept busy only in the performance of the craft's duties. Somewhere during this training period he got a glimpse of Hollywood. He had a friend who knew a friend who knew the son of the Fibber McGee and Molly people, so that he got the chance to see the inside of a movie studio while on leave from base in San Francisco. The most luck was hitching a ride back up North one Easter weekend with Walter Huston and his wife. Before he got a chance to look into the acting business he was shipped out for a good many months. After the war Fess returned to Hardin-Simmons University to finish up as a speech major. There he had the opportunity to play a part in Midsummer Night's Dream.

Fess continued acting when he went on to the University of Texas. Not long before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, he was introduced to visiting actor Adolphe Menjou. By this time Fess was one of the chief characters on the campus, having been elected Sweetheart of Alpha Chi Omega and playing Mars in a production called Time Staggers On. Menjou had a fine time on the campus with Fess as his guide. Thereafter they exchanged several letters, one of which promised to help him if he ever came to Hollywood to try his luck.

When he got to Hollywood he introduced Fess to his agent and he read for several heads of studio talent departments and soon discovered that there was a complete lack of demand for his talents. The stubborness came out in him. He decided that while he was waiting around for some minds to change, he went after his master's degree in history of the theatre at the University of Southern California. Fess had a brainstorm that proved to be a big turning point in his life. He applied for and was accepted as a $32 week extra with the touring company of Mister Roberts, starring Henry Fonda. He didn't have one word to say on the stage, but he'd always had great admiration for Fonda as an actor. He toured with the play and absorbed a new understanding of show business. He decided to go to Hollywood to become a movie star. He really believed that nothing could stop him now. Because of his work in the Henry Fonda play, he could look a casting director straight in the face and tell him he had very good experience in summer theatre. They didn't have to know that he didn't speak a word. After he found an agent, things began to happen fast. When he read for a part in a Doris Day movie, which went to Ronald Reagan, he had rehearsed one of the scenes and used it for a test at Universal, where he got his first motion picture role in Untamed Frontier with Joseph Cotten and Shelley Winters.

In all, Fess appeared in some thirty television shows and pictures and has appeared in the movies Them and Battle Cry to name a few. Now, about Davy Crockett. Fess first heard about Davy in the third grade. Folks outside the Lone Star State, until the television series and the movie came out, didn't know it but Davy is among the major heroes of Texas. Fess was a long way from knowing all about his hero until Disney Studios gave him a research folder on Davy. He took the folder back to his apartment and began to read. Fess' first scene for the preview series for the Disneyland show was riding all day through heavy brush in the Indian country on an old plough horse name Brunhilda. By the end of the day he didn't care too much about sitting down. The actor who played Crockett's sidekick Georgie Russel was Buddy Ebsen who has had great experience in all phases of show business. He and Fess even wrote a song together called Be Sure You're Right. The actress who played Davy's wife was Helene Stanley.

When the Crockett craze took off, Fess recalled a discovery that scared him a little. It was that any degree of success, in any profession, is not without obligation. He learned that the Disney people think first about what good they can do in any enterprise and have a way of bringing you into the family plans. The greatest event of that time was when Fess flew to Washington as guest of the National Rifle Association. He was there as a symbolic representative of Davy Crockett to present a replica of Old Betsy, a Kentucky long rifle (it took a man 300 hours to make) to the Deputy Defense Secretary, Robert Anderson, a fellow Texan.

When Fess was asked how he felt about Davy Crockett, to sum it up, he said "God touches the lives of some people, like Davy Crockett, choosing them for great achievements in order to show the rest of us the right way".

Here's the CD to get for the soundtrack. I don't like the trilogy CD. The performances are not up to my expectations. The pacing isn't the same, and the cues from the movie aren't in the same places. If you buy the CD's listed on the Musical Notes and Sources and this soundtrack, you will have all the songs from the movie.
In Association with Back To The Future: Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack

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