Did You Know These Western TV Stars Went to Hardin-Simmons University?
The Big Country has quite a reputation as “cowboy country” in Texas, and Abilene even owes its name to a cattle rancher who was inspired by another cattle town in Kansas.
So the fact that Western TV heroes and cowboys like Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Hoss Cartwright were played by Abilene locals on the small screen should surprise no one.
Here are ten famous folks you didn't know were Hardin-Simmons University alumni, from TV stars to war heroes to theme park designers:
LOOK: 10 Famous People You Didn't Know Were Hardin-Simmons University Alumni
Fans of classic Western TV (or those of us who camped out in front of reruns on our grandparents’ TV sets) will easily recognize the likes of Fess Parker and Dan Blocker in this list.
Parker could be considered a true West Texas native, having grown up on a farm in the San Angelo area. After being discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1946, he enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin and then the University of Southern California.
His two most notable roles included folk hero, Congressman, and Alamo legend Davy Crockett (in a Disney miniseries of the same name, 1954-55), and then American frontiersman Daniel Boone (in the NBC TV series of the same name, 1964-1970).
Like Parker, Dan Blocker was also a Texas native, having played football for Hardin-Simmons University before transferring to Sul Ross State University. He received a master’s degree in the dramatic arts after serving in the Korean War.
Blocker appeared in small roles in TV and movie westerns before he was cast as the gentle-but-strong Hoss Cartwright in NBC’s ‘Bonanza’(1959-1972). This was Blocker’s best-known role, one which he played until his sudden death in 1972.
If you’ve been unfortunate enough to not know any of the TV westerns mentioned above, you have my condolences. While the ‘Bonanza’ theme song is as catchy as an instrumental can be, nothing beats the campy-yet-iconic and singable ‘Davy Crockett.’ Do yourself a favor and listen to it below — Fess Parker’s voice isn’t too bad.