Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Jim Bowie

Yes, all you Alamo fans, today is the birthday of James "Jim" Bowie born on April 10, 1796. Despite his impeccable Texas credentials, he was actually born in Kentucky and lived most of his life in Louisiana. When I was young, the school library had a selection of red library bound books on famous Americans. One of those was about Davy Crockett who also died in the Battle of the Alamo. The battle and its participants have passed on into legend. Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett are forever to be remembered together, even if they hardly knew each other before they were both killed by the Mexicans.

When I was about eight years old, Davy Crockett, in the guise of Fess Parker, was a regular on the Walt Disney TV show. The theme song and his signature coon skin cap, became the standard outfit for any dress up including Halloween costumes. According to Wikipedia: "Nevertheless, the shows proved very popular. They were combined into a feature-length movie in the summer of 1955, and Parker and his co-star Buddy Ebsen toured the United States, Europe, and Japan. By the end of 1955, Americans had purchased over $300 million of Davy Crockett merchandise ($2 billion in 2001). The television series also introduced a new song, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett". Four different versions of the song hit the Billboard Best Sellers pop chart in 1955. The versions by Bill Hayes, TV series star Fess Parker, and Tennessee Ernie Ford charted in the Top 10 simultaneously, with Hayes' version hitting #1." Try it out, almost anyone living during the 1950s can sing at least part of the song.

I never did own a coon skin cap but I am sure I would have been thrilled to have one. In films Crockett has been played by all of the following:
Can you believe it?


  1. You're in luck, James. I have a coonskin hat in my costume closet.

  2. I never had a coon skin cap, but I do own a Bowie knife.