Leslie Nielsen, ‘The Swamp Fox,’ Passes Away
Versatile actor Leslie Nielsen has died. Although he is better known for his comic roles in “Naked Gun” and “Airplane,” I’ll always remember him first for playing General Francis Marion, “The Swamp Fox” of the Revolutionary War, in the eight-part Disney TV series that ran from 1959 to 1961. Disney had bet on Marion to follow up the massive success it had with its Davy Crockett series. As far as I know, the Swamp Fox is no relation to me, but there may be some connection way back in France at the Marion crossroads. The Catholics went to Quebec, and the Prostestant Huguenots went to the American South, especially South Carolina, where Francis got his start.
Leslie Nielsen was 84. Read his obituary from AOL.COM here.
5 Responses to Leslie Nielsen, ‘The Swamp Fox,’ Passes Away
I used to adore the Swamp Fox when I was a kid. Every now and then, the theme song
still pops into my head.” Swamp Fox Swamp Fox, feather in his hat, Nobody knows where the Swamp Fox is at.” We had some great heroes back then, Sir Francis Drake,
Daniel Boone, what was his name, Yancy Derringer, Wyatt Earp, the Rifleman, Robin Hood, the Swamp Fox,…and there was a show for a while called “Great Adventures” which dramatized the stories of American heroes-sort of a Profiles in Courage. At the Strand Theater we saw “The Fighting Prince of Donegal,” “Three Hundred Spartans,” and Charlton Heston in “Major Dundee.”
Paul, never mind the technicalities; just claim the Swamp Fox as your great great grandfather and start wearing a feather in your hat.
Great memories, Steve. I think it’s “Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, tail on his hat”—pretty sure that’s a fox tail or something on his hat. I remember seeing John Wayne as Davy Crockett (not too believable) in the Alamo movie at the Keith Theatre in Kearney Square. My brother David, five years older than me, hit the Davy Crockett crazy perfectly. He had the coonskin cap and everything. Don’t forget the trading cards with all those characters and cowboys.
My wife is from Florence, the Swamp Fox’ turf. Not only did they name a local university for him, but I bet everyone there can sing the theme song.
South Carolina and Charleston are on the list for a future family vacation. I know too much about this Swamp Fox thing, but here goes. I’ve got a box full of research materials and notebooks for a book called “Marion in America” that I still might try to write some day. There’s a curious fact about the Marion name in that it is one of the most popular place names in the US. About 40 states have a city, town, or county named Marion. It’s up there in use with Washington, Lincoln, Franklin, Springfield, and a few more, and it’s because of the Swamp Fox. Around the time that many communities were being settled and established in the US, Francis Marion was a celebrity in among the founding patriots and revolutionaries. Parson Weems, the same man who had written a popular account of George Washington (think, the cherrry tree tale), wrote a romantic version of the Swamp Fox’s exploits as a guerrilla leader in the swamps of South Carolina, giving the British fits as they tried to subdue the locals.
We used to have a Marion Street in the Acre (near Adams Street and Jefferson Street and not far from Franklin Court), until a City Council vote a few years ago changed it to an earlier iteration as Dublin or Cork street (can’t recall which is which). I am still baffled by the reasoning; there could have been a compromise with a second sign added below saying “Previously Dublin Street,” which is how other communities have dealt with such changes I’m told. Anyway, some folks thought nothing of the change because they were under the mistaken impression that the Marion in quesiton was a Franco American house builder instead of a hero of the Revolution. There was supposed to be a plaque placed in the vicinity of the two streets referening Marion and LaGrange streets. Oh, yes, LaGrange was a tribute to the Marquis de Lafayette, whose ancestral home on France was LaGrange (think, Monticello for Jefferson). Lafayette was considered disposable, too. A shame, really, to erase recognition for another hero of the Revolution and a tribute to a piece of French history in North America.
At rareandforgotten.com you can get the whole Swamp Fox series for 25 bucks.
Don’t know if we’d enjoy it as much as we did when we were 13…
I used to show my kids old Fess Parker Daniel Boone stuff just to keep them away from some of the mind-numbingly inane programming about spoiled rich people on MTV — worked for a while.