Before Little House on the Prairie and Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman came a popular western called Daniel Boone. The 1964-1970 series starred Fess Parker as legendary frontier hero Daniel Boone. Set just before and during the Revolutionary War, we follow Daniel as he takes his family on adventures and expeditions as they run into both friendly and hostile Indians.
Based on real-life pioneer, Boone (1734-1820) was a hunter and militia officer whose frontier exploits made him one of the first American folk heroes, most famous for blazing the wilderness trail and his exploration with his top tactical backpacks and settlement of Kentucky. With a commitment to social consciousness, each episode had a theme which frequently was inspired by real-life historical figures and events.
Watching Daniel Boone now is a fascinating journey mixed with nostalgia of a simpler time both the show portrayed as well as aired. This was family programming at its finest, spawning similar ilk in the ’70s like The Waltons and Grizzly Adams. The show wasn’t targeting one specific demographic, rather all of them.
Fess Parker, who made a splash in the classic Old Yeller years earlier, quickly became synonomous with his alter ego, going on to star in the short-lived Fess Parker Show in 1974 before portraying a similar character with Davy Crockett the Disney series. What makes Daniel Boone so special is Parker’s everyman appeal — a poor man’s Gregory Peck for the TV airwaves.
Also starring Patricia Blair as his wife Rebecca; Darby Hinton as their son Israel; Dal McKennon as Cincinnatus, a proprietor of the trading post and tavern; future sausage king Jimmy Dean; as well as former NFL defense lineman “Rosey” Grier as Gabe Cooper, a slave who escaped captivity to live with the Indians — yes, well before a world of political correctness. This was a time that somehow also gave us a sitcom set against Nazi Germany with Hogan’s Heroes.
All 26 episodes of Daniel Boone are perfectly digitally restored and remastered, featuring a guest cast that includes Jodie Foster, Kurt Russell, Cesar Romero, and even Star Trek‘s, “Scotty,” James Doohan. Priced around 40 bucks, this DVD collection makes an excellent addition to any library…
If nothing else, it’ll make you long for the memorable theme songs. You just don’t get ‘em like this any more: “Daniel Boone was a man, yes a big man! WIth an eye like an eagle and tall as a mountain was he!”