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While making a training film for the United States Navy medical unit, Fess Parker received a call from a producer that he had a part in 1954’s Them!
At this point in his career, Parker had appeared in several films in uncredited roles and had yet to have break through success.
Little did he know, Them! was going to change that.
Walt Disney was sent a copy of the film because James Arness was hoping to land the role of Davy Crockett. The studio was also considering Sterling Hayden, Ronald Reagan, and Buddy Ebsen.
When Disney saw Parker, he was so impressed that the studio reached out to Warner Brothers to find out who this unknown actor was.
“That was my lucky break because he just saw maybe a minute or two minutes of film,” Parker said.
Disney also cast Ebsen, though he played Crockett’s friend, George Russel.
“[Ebsen] was very supportive and a very good actor. We’ve become lifelong friends,” Paker said.
As for James Arness, he, of course, found his own success with the long running Western series Gunsmoke that debuted in 1955.