|A section of the painting "Fall of the Alamo" by |
Robert Onderdonk features Davy Crockett and his band
of Tennessee volunteers near the end of the battle.
Brother Davy Crockett — The Rest of the Story
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR
It has long been a well-known historical fact Brother Davy Crockett (1786–1836) was a patriot and hero who gave his life in defense of freedom at the Alamo in 1836. By the late 19th century, however, Crockett was largely a forgotten figure. The events leading to Texas' independence and eventual statehood were long in the past and very few remembered the names of the brave soldiers who helped bring it about. The situation changed when, in the mid-1950s, Brother Crockett transcended all that and became an American icon with the release of Walt Disney's television series about his life, as well as the movie, "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier." Since that time the series has been replayed to the point that every kid learns about Crockett's heroism at an early age.
Interestingly, Crockett's rise to the level of superstar almost didn't happen.
In 1946, famed artist Thomas Hart Benton (related to two famous Masons with the same name, but not a Mason himself) briefly worked for Disney, and came to him with an idea for a show. He presented Disney with an outline for a musical about Crockett's life called "Hunter From Kentucky."
To be generous, Disney (who as a youth was a DeMolay) thought Benton's concept was poor and he quickly shelved the project — with the intention it would never be used. However, in 1954, the weekly TV series known today as The Wonderful World of Disney premiered. Less than a year later, the Disneyland theme park opened, TV ratings skyrocketed and Disney started a daily show, The Mickey Mouse Club. Producing a minimum of six shows per week, Disney's appetite for material became voracious. So he went back to his "dead ideas" file and there he found Benton's mercifully forgotten manuscript.
Disney handed the project to his staff, which reworked the idea into something that, in reality, bore little if any resemblance to the outline from Benton. The product Disney's talented writers came up with arguably might be the most popular show ever to emerge from the Disney studios — but one thing is certain: the series almost instantly catapulted Brother Davy Crockett from obscurity to rock star status.