While researching Born on a Mountaintop, I spent several days tracking down Crockett sites in the area and talking to people who'd had small parts in the Disney production. "I was in the scene where they had the shooting match for the cow," said Ken Blankenship, now director of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, who was in 7th grade at the time. Bob Blankenship, Ken's brother, worked in the motel where the Disney cast and crew were staying; he recalled Fess Parker teaching him a few chords on the guitar. Tom Beck, also an extra in the film, remembered coming home one day to find the actor playing Chief Red Stick "laid out on our front porch" because he'd forgotten to duck in a scene where Davy throws a hatchet at him.
Speaking of not ducking: One man I wish I could have talked to was Richard "Geet" Crowe, a talented Cherokee craftsman and actor who died in 2002. It was Parker who forgot to duck this time, in the story I'd heard, and got zapped by a rubber-tipped arrow as a result. Crowe's daughter confirmed the tale, and I later found an interview in which Parker reminisced about it.
Richard Crowe played "an Indian sentinel standing duty on a bank twenty feet above the river," Parker said. "The camera was shooting from behind my right shoulder and I was to spot the Indian and fire just as he drew a bead on me with his bow and arrow. Then, my bullet was supposed to hit him and knock him off the small cliff." But there were a couple of flaws in this carefully planned scenario: Parker's gun produced enough smoke to cloud his vision, and Crowe's aim -- as he fell and released his arrow -- was true.
"It his me smack in the forehead right above my left eye," Parker said, "and as things went black for a few seconds, I though to myself, 'Well, this is one Davy Crockett who's never going to get to the Alamo.'"