Ted Danson will step away from acting Saturday to tell the Tucson Book Festival about his family and his passion for conservation.


Actor Ted Danson plans on providing high praise for his father when he speaks about him at the Tucson Festival of Books on Saturday.

Edward "Ned" Danson Jr. was an anthropology professor at the University of Arizona and served as assistant director, then director, of the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff from 1956 to 1975.

He was instrumental in establishing the historic Hubbell Trading Post on the Navajo Nation as part of the National Park System and in his prime was heavily involved with both the National Park Service Advisory Board and the WNPA, the Western National Parks Association.

"Ned's contributions were vast and many," said James E. Cook, executive director of the WNPA. "He had influence on a national scale."

The nonprofit association is bringing Ted to the festival to talk about his father's work and the book "Edward Bridge Danson: Steward of the New West," which was written by Ted's nephew, Eric Penner Haury.

Haury's grandfather, Emil Haury, was another prominent name in Southwest anthropology and archeology who worked closely with Edward Danson. Emil's son, Loren Haury, married Ted's sister, Jan.

"It is kind of a family affair," Ted said in an interview from Los Angeles.

The talk, dubbed "Ted Danson and Eric Penner Haury: Generations of Stewardship, Parks and the West," will take place in the Student Union Memorial Center South Ballroom.

Danson is eager to speak about his father, who served as a major influence in his life, from their time living in the Catalina Foothills of Tucson to his years in Flagstaff.

It's from his dad, where Danson said he picked up his activist spirit.

While he grew up in landlocked Arizona, Ted has been a strong supporter of ocean conservation since his days working on the NBC sitcom "Cheers" in the mid-1980s.

Together with Robert Sulnick, Danson created the American Oceans Campaign, an advocacy group that raised awareness on a variety of issues before merging with Oceana, the world's largest ocean-conservation organization, in 2002.

In 2011, Rodale Books published "Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We can do to Save Them," written by Danson and journalist Michael D'Orso.

The book uses eye-catching visuals and testimonials from a tidal wave of experts to provide an in-depth look at the most pressing problems the world's oceans face.

"We are at a tipping point," Danson said. "I wanted this book to be a primer on what is going on out there."

Danson said all of his advocacy efforts might not have happened without the influence of his parents.

"Growing up, I was surrounded by a scientific community that wanted to conserve and protect Arizona's heritage," he said. "There was always this instinct in me that wanted to protect something beautiful."

Danson will speak a bit about his book at the presentation, amid conversations with Eric Penner Haury and a question-and-answer session about the work of Edward Danson and Emil Haury.

Ted, who also is the guest of honor at the WNPA's sold-out 75th anniversary celebration Saturday, said he is proud of the biography his nephew wrote.

"The book is beautifully done," he said. "It really showcases my father's desire to preserve and pass on the beauty and culture of the Southwest to the people who came after him."

On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/festivalguide to read the e-edition version of the guide for the Tucson Festival of Books.

If you go

• What: Ted Danson on the panel "Ted Danson and Eric Penner Haury: Generations of Stewardship, Parks and the West" at the Tucson Festival of Books.

• When: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: The Student Union Memorial Center South Ballroom on the University of Arizona campus.

• Cost: Free.

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430. On Twitter: GeraldMGay