Saturday, March 20, 2010

Freemason Fess Parker, RIP

Received this today about the death of actor and Freemason Fess Parker:

We lost another very prominent Brother today who, in real life and his movie/TV roles, evoked many of the attributes of a just & upright Mason.

Bro. Fess Parker died peacefully today at age 85. After a very successful career in Hollywood (movies as disparate as "Old Yeller" and "Them") from "51 to the "70's, he made a fortune in real estate, resorts and his own award-winning "Fess Parker Winery".

His most famous role of course was as 'Davy Crockett' (I'm sure those of you 55 & older either had a coonskin cap, replica of his rifle, 'Ol Betsy' or a Davy Crockett lunch box) He later starred in the "Daniel Boone" TV series. He even sang a version of the title song "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" which got to #4 on the charts.

Enlisting in the USMC late in WWII with hopes of becoming a pilot, his height kept him with other duty. After the war he was a good athlete at the U. of Texas, graduating with a degree in History. The guitar-playing 6'6" gentleman with the southern accent caught the eye of Walt Disney and the rest was history. Incidentally Fess Parker was his given name.

Some Masonic notes: Bro. Parker portrayed Bro. Crockett & Bro. Boone, costarring with Bro. Buddy Ebsen in the former as his sidekick. He also was in a western with Bro. Gene Autry & in "Island in the Sky" with Bro. John Wayne (the only other actor to portray Bro. Crockett in a movie). And of course Walt Disney & Buddy Ebsen were both Sr. DeMolays.

Bro. Parker had just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary and leaves a widow, son, daughter & grandchildren.

As people comment at work or at some social gathering about his passing, we can proudly say, \’yes, Fess Parker was a fraternity Brother of mine!\’.

Written by

Gerald A. Edgar, PM
Mosaic #125 AF&AM (Dubuque, IA)
York Rite Bodies @ Mason City, IA
Sr. DeMolay (Chev/LOH)

Please note that this was originally attributed to JR Knight, PM, Senior Deacon, S.W. Hackett Lodge #574. I have since been informed by Gerald Edgar, PM from Dubuque, Iowa that he is the author.

See also Brother Ed King's skeptical response in the comments to this entry.


masonicinfo said...

Color me very skeptical on this one. This story is now being circulated by a bunch of different folks who appear to be taking the name of the person who sent it to them off and putting theirs on instead.

The story is a thinly altered (and abbreviated) version of the news story that appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Look at the flow and wording and you'll see the similarities - except for the 'Brother' stuff added.

Tracking it down to the probably first source, an Iowa Mason writes "I read of Fess Parker's Masonic membership in an article in a national York Rite publication (I'm a mbr of same) or a Scottish Rite publication (Southern Jurisdiction) that my Dad receives (he's Scottish Rite). I keep all my old York Rite magazines but they have no overall index; ditto for my Dad's Scottish Rite publications." No mention of WHEN he supposedly read this - which is a pretty good clue that it's not likely fact.

In fact, it reminds me a LOT of a similar situation where some Dummy author gave Masonic membership to a guy named DiCaprio. Does that ring a few bells? {wicked grin}

One of the messages I got encouraged me to tell everyone around the water cooler that he was a Brother of mine. Frankly, I'd rather hold off than be labeled a liar or braggart.

Maybe I'm wrong - but I'd be willing to bet a few bucks towards charity that this is a just-created urban legend.

Ed King

Widow's Son said...

This same article appears at with a P.S. that says, "Bro. Parker was raised in Mt. Olive Lodge No. 506, Los Angeles, California on Nov. 23, 1965."

— W.S.