I took a trip back to my childhood today when I watched the five episodes of Disney’s Davy Crockett. Fess Parker starred as Davy and Buddy Ebsen as his partner, Georgie Russell.
I remember watching the episodes back in the mid-fifties(1955) on our recently acquired television, a gift from my stepfather, who wasn’t at the time. A black and white, as color wasn’t around then. The shows were filmed in color but broadcast originally in black and white.
Crockett exploded in popularity for young boys, such that coon skin caps were all the rage. Yes, I had one as well. The shows were so popular that Disney remarked that if he’d “known it was going to be this popular, I wouldn’t have killed him off in the third episode.”
THE CREEK INDIAN WAR
DAVY CROCKETT GOES TO CONGRESS
DAVY CROCKETT AT THE ALAMO
The Creek Indian War had Davy and Georgie going off to fight the Creek Indians as a scout for Andrew Jackson. Red Stick was the aggressive young chief that was leading the rebellious bunch, being pursued from the Mississippi delta to the swamps of Florida.
On a personal note, some of this one was filmed in the Great Smokies. One of my best friends lives in Knoxville and on a visit, he took us to a spot used in the episode. Davy is shown shooting an Indian off a huge rock, him falling into the pond below. I actually stood in the same spot that Indian fell from.
In the second, Davy and Georgie have staked a claim in western Tennessee on land and are building a cabin before he brings his wife and two sons out. He takes a job as magistrate in the local village when a man named Bigfoot Morton and his men are throwing Indians off their land and selling it to unsuspecting whites.
From there, he agrees to run for state legislature, serves a few years, then, at Andrew Jackson’s urging, runs for Congress. Jackson, planning a run for President, needs allies in Washington.
A few years later, Davy runs afoul of the usual politics, in the way they were treating the Indians and returns to Tennessee.
Davy decides to go to Texas when he reads of the Texans’ problems with Santa Ana to help out. Kenneth Tobey appears as Jim Bowie and Hans Conried as Thmblerig, a gambler/con man that hooks up with them. Along the way, they pick up a Comanche scout, who they dub Busted Luck for all his problems as they beat it into the Alamo just ahead of the Mexican Army.
You know the rest of that story.
DAVY CROCKETT’S KEEL BOAT RACE
DAVY CROCKETT AND THE RIVER PIRATES
As I mentioned earlier, the Davy episodes were so popular, they filmed two more earlier adventures. It was really a two part story as Jeff York appeared as the larger than life Mike Fink, King of the river in both episodes. Kenneth Tobey is also one of his men, Jocko, in both tales.
Looking for a ride down the Mississippi to sell a load of furs, they end up in a race with Fink down the river, a bet a drunken Georgie made with their furs. It’s a ship of landlubbers against Fink’s seasoned crew.
It was a bit comical at times as they continually pulled pranks on each other to slow their opponents down. But the pair end up friends at the end.
The second part concerns pirates pretending to be Indians attacking boats, killing their crews for the cargo, stirring up both the real Indians and the whites against each other.
Davy and Fink team up to wipe them out(there was a brief skirmish with them during the boat race).
It was a lot of fun watching these shows after so many years, presented as they originally run with introductions by Disney and a brief trailer at the end for next week’s episode(it was a revolving show with FantasyLand, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Frontierland.