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Fess Parker, Jr.

Fess Elisha Parker, Jr. was born on August 16, 1924 in Fort Worth, Texas to Fess Parker, Sr. and Mackie Allen Parker.  His father had been born in California, but his mother was born in Texas.  His paternal grandparents Otis L. and Cora Lightfoot Parker had been a farming family in Comanche County, Texas and both are buried there.  Fess grew up in San Angelo and was a multi sport athlete there.  He graduated from San Angelo High School in 1939 and did a hitch in the United States Navy before coming back to Texas and enrolling at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene in 1943.

He was tall compared to most men of his age, being six feet, six inches in height.  Some accounts say he played football at Hardin-Simmons, but his personal interviews imply that he may not have played football, or if he did, it was not for very long, due to an assault he suffered after a road rage incident.  The car he was driving was bumped from behind by an individual previously unknown to him.  Parker confronted the person and was slashed with a knife by the individual, though he recovered.  However, Parker is known to have played basketball at Hardin-Simmons under Coach Wes Bradshaw, and Fess Parker is mentioned in several newspaper articles when the Cowboys’ basketball games were written up.  Coach Bradshaw, by the way, was a survivor of the terrible 1927 accident in Round Rock, when ten players (Baylor’s “Immortal Ten”) were killed when their bus was hit by a railroad train.

An early mention of Parker at Hardin-Simmons is found in the April 11, 1943 edition of the Abilene Reporter-News in which an annual event known as Junior Jubilee was reported.  The article reported that Jamie Stotler, Frances White and Fess Parker performed in a dramatization of “Frankie and Johnnie.”  In 1947, Parker left Hardin-Simmons and transferred to University of Texas initially to pursue a law degree, but there his life took yet another turn.  After completing his undergraduate degree at University of Texas, he moved to California where he enrolled at University of Southern California to pursue a degree in drama.

fessparker

(Image believed to be in the public domain)

By 1950, he is noted as having played an uncredited voice role in his first film, “Harvey.”  Parker continued to appear in film and television roles until he was signed by Disney Studios to play Davy Crockett in the studio’s rotating series called “The Magical World of Disney.”  Seven episodes aired over a period of about two years (1954-1956).  His distictive voice and good looks served him well as an actor.  Parker continued to work in television and film, including the 1957 drama “Old Yeller,” another Disney production, starring Parker, Dorothy McGuire, Chuck Connors, Tommy Kirk and others.  He starred in 1962 and 1963 as Sen. Eugene Smith in the television series based on the film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” His next long-running engagement was to play Daniel Boone from 1964-1970.  Over the years, Parker became a well recognized personality.  The Daniel Boone series aired a total of 165 episodes and was a financial success for Parker.  He appeared in two more television productions before essentially retiring from television and film to pursue business interests.

Parker and his family owned hotels, other real estate and operated a winery for many years.  He was a close friend of actor turned politician Ronald Reagan.  Parker is said to have briefly considered getting involved in politics in the 1960s, but ultimately decided against it.

Fess had been married for fifty years to his wife Marcella Rinehart Parker when he died at the age of 85 in 2010.  Marcella survived him along with their two children, until her death in 2019.  Both are buried in the Santa Barbara Cemetery.

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Posted by on June 4, 2020 in biography, entertainers, films

 

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Edna Gladney

Edna Browning Kahly was born on January 22, 1886 to Maurice (or Morris) and Minnie Nell Jones Kahly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Nothing is easily found about her father, but by 1900, Minnie Nell, her mother, Edna and her sister were living with Minnie’s mother in Milwaukee.  Around 1903 Edna was sent to Texas to live with relatives in Fort Worth and about three years later in 1906, she married Samuel William Gladney.  Sam was born in 1877 in Commanche County to Thomas Lacy and Joyce Cathron Bowdon Gladney in 1882.  Tom was a rancher there in West Texas.  By 1900, Sam was 22 and living with the family in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.

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Posted by on May 28, 2020 in biography, films, texas women, Uncategorized

 

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Luther Dean Stanford

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Luther Dean Stanford served in the US Navy from September, 1943 through July, 1944. His Tours of Duty: San Diego, CA, Norman, OK, Norfolk, VA, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was Killed in Action in a seaplane accident in Great Exuma, Bahama Islands, on July 1, 1944. He was posthumously awarded the following Medals: American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal.

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Posted by on May 25, 2020 in biography, world war 2

 

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Presley Bazelle Land

presleyland

As we approach Memorial Day, we honor Presley Land of Alvord, Texas.  United States Army Sergeant Presley Bazelle Land was killed on the island of Okinawa on June 17, 1945.  He was the oldest son of Jessie Clarence and Sarah Isabelle Magers Land and was born in Alvord, Wise County, Texas on October 22, 1916.  Jessie was a farmer and Isabelle was a housewife.  Presley graduated from Alvord High School around 1933 and married the former Vera Katherine Richards on September 4, 1937.  Presley had attended college for one year and was working as a clerk in Fort Worth for Convair, an aircraft manufacturer, at the time he enlisted in the service on May 24, 1943.

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Posted by on May 21, 2020 in biography, world war 2

 

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Jim Beck

Not much can be found in newspaper archives about recording engineer Jim Beck, perhaps due to his shortened career and untimely death, but his name is well known in the music and recording industry.

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Posted by on May 14, 2020 in biography

 

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John J. Pershing

General John Joseph Pershing served in Texas immediately prior to the United States’ entry into World War I.  His name might be familiar to some in Texas due to the raids into Mexico that were intended to catch the bandit Pancho Villa.

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Posted by on May 7, 2020 in biography, world war 1

 

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Marcelino Serna

The headline in the El Paso Herald-Post on Veterans Day, November 11, 1970 read “Hero of World War I Rides in Parade” and went on to tell the amazing story of Marcelino Serna.  Private Serna was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart and Victory Medal (United States decorations) along with the French Medaille Militaire and two Croix de Guerre and the Italian Merito de Guerra.  The article added that Private Serna spent his first Armistice Day in a hospital recovering from his wounds that he received about a week earlier on November 7, 1918 while participating in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

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