Is Norman Reedus Of ‘The Walking Dead’ A Nod To Folk Heroes Like Daniel Boone? [Opinion]

Norman Reedus as The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon seems larger than life. Is he similar to the folktales about people like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett?

Is Daryl Dixon symbolic of a future time in which the woodsmen and wilderness survivalists will again thrive? Perhaps more immediately, Reedus is an icon of rugged masculinity to a new generation who have been exposed to very little of that.

Is Norman Reedus portraying a Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett-type character on The Walking Dead? Is Daryl Dixon reminiscent of the American folk hero, but in an apocalyptic setting.

Daniel Boone (1734 to 1820) was a tracker, explorer, and trailblazer opening up the American West, according to Oregon Coast Magazine. Davy Crockett was born in 1786 and died in 1836 at the Alamo, according to History.

Norman Reedus, in his portrayal of Daryl Dixon, does depart from other portrayals of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett in the past, but then again, adapted for both the current time frame and the times portrayed in The Walking Dead, the portrayal is pretty authentic.

Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone rapidly became the stuff of legends and early American pulp fiction. The 1800’s dime store novels, almanacs, and even periodical publications and newspapers occasionally carried western fiction. In those times, many of these cowboy-style folk heroes were still alive.

Norman Reedus portraying Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead definitely has its parallels to historical pulp fiction. After all The Walking Dead was a comic book first. It was action based, just like the fiction young aspiring cowboys used to read over a century-and-a-half ago.

Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone didn’t go out of fashion until the politically correct movement became uncomfortable with the historical attitudes in western movies and even actual history. Attitudes have changed in the past 200 years.

The Walking Dead with Norman Reedus reflects ideas of the current time frame. In the 1950s and 1960s, children emulated Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, but it was not their faces the children pictured, but rather the face of Fess Parker, the actor who was honored to portray both Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett on television.

Fess Parker portrayed both Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett
Fess Parker portrayed both Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett [Image by Hulton Archives/Getty Images=]

The first verse of the Davy Crockett theme song shown below was well known among school children of that day. Most kids knew the whole song, which is far longer and vastly politically incorrect, but shown on Fifties Web. Believe it or not, this song was at the top of the charts for weeks.

“Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee
Greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so he knew ev’ry tree
Kilt him a b’ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!”

Norman Reedus on The Walking Dead portrays a future figure, just as tough, strong, and capable, if significantly less hopeful than Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett as portrayed by Fess Parker. Of course, it is easy to be optimistic about the historical figures who were successful in hindsight.

Fess Parker played the Disney version of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Both roles were designed to be ideal male role models for the 1950s-era, according to the Washington Post. Fess Parker’s job was to not only recall, but recolor these rugged outdoorsmen turning them into something appropriate for family viewing.

The Walking Dead with Norman Reedus has a far different story to tell. While there is still plenty of tracking, trailblazing, and fighting to do, the wilderness of Daryl Dixon’s time is populated by grotesque zombies, and littered with the remnants of a once technologically-sophisticated, but dying culture.

Kids from a bygone era dressed as Davy Crockett
Kids from a bygone era dressed as Davy Crockett [Image by Harry Kerr/Getty Images]

Fess Parker, on the other hand, represented the idealized American West, and westward expansion. Fess Parker was literally larger than life, standing 6-foot-6 and sporting a strong jaw and cleft chin.

Norman Reedus is a more modest 5-foot-10 but his body looks as hard as steel, with muscles bulging. Norman Reedus is completely believable though as a post-apocalyptic American folk hero.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead symbolizes the end of America and perhaps the end of the world, while Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett witnessed the beginning of well over 200 good years for America.

Fess Parker recreated Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett’s experiences while lending these historically-rugged outdoorsmen 1950’s family values. Robert Kirkman created an ending full of all the 21st century anxieties and dark prophecies popular in our current culture. Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon seems to be the answer to modern fears, and the embodiment of survival skills.

Fess Parker portrayed a strong male role model, much like Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon. Fess Parker in his portrayal of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone represented manhood in all its bygone glory. Fess, like Norman, won not only the hearts of women, but also children. He was greatly admired by men as well. He set a standard.


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Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon portrays a much more grungy and realistic existence than Fess Parker, perhaps more like real life in the pioneer days. Wilderness living is a relatively timeless existence, except for the tools, and the occasional settlements and deserted dwellings which are theirs to use.

Fess Parker’s television role was hardly the first time Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and vast numbers of cowboys, bank robbers, and rough riders had been fictionalized in glorified fashion. The books and almanacs that featured the adventures of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in very exciting and action-packed early pulp fiction were a bit more like Kirkman’s graphic novels.

Norman Reedus’ portrayal of Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead, like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone fiction, depicts a rugged role model, once commonplace, but now rare.

[Featured Image by Mike Windle and General Photographic Agency/Getty Images]