Today is the birthday of American folk hero Daniel Boone (1734-1820). Pioneer and frontiersman, he was one of the first to show the way west when he blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap, a route through the Appalachian mountains leading from Virginia to what was to become Kentucky. But while I love history, this here tends to be a show biz blog! So we use it as an occasion to talk about the Daniel Boone tv show which aired on NBC from 1964 through 1970, and in syndication thereafter.
Now, here’s a case where television did absolutely nothing to straighten out the public’s confusion about a historical topic. I would imagine that folks have always had a tendency to mix up Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in the best of times. Matters weren’t helped when my distant cousin Fess Parker, who’d starred as Davy Crockett in the hit Disney films and tv shows in the 1950s, was hired to play Boone in the Daniel Boone show — wearing the same coonskin cap! I am way too young to have been there for the Davy Crockett craze, but certainly watched the shows in reruns on The Wonderful World of Disney. And I’m dashed if it ain’t all mixed up in my head with the Daniel Boone show.
But the theme songs were quite different, and the one to Daniel Boone was just as memorable as the one to Davy Crockett. In fact we used to sing a parody of the Daniel Boone theme song on the playground, with lyrics that should have earned us a week in detention.
As it happens, it’s also Native American Heritage Month. Given the theme and setting of this show, as you can imagine nearly every episode relates in some way to relations between whites and the local Shawnee and Cherokee tribes. Boone’s best friend and sidekick the half-Cherokee Mingo is played by a Jewish guy from Massachusetts named Ed Ames. Other notable regulars on the series at various times include the lovely Veronica Cartwright, football player Rosey Grier, and country singer/ sausage magnate Jimmy Dean.
For more on Fess Parker, Daniel Boone Show, and the frontier expeience, please check out my new project The Pilgrim’s Progress