Remembering Dan Haggerty, the Iconic Grizzly Adams

Dan Haggerty, who was well-known for playing the kind mountain man with a gorgeous beard and his devoted bear, Ben, in the popular 1974 film “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” and the televised adaptation, died away on Friday in Burbank, California. He was seventy-three.

Terry Bomar, Haggerty’s manager and friend, disclosed that spine cancer was the cause of death.

Haggerty was a Hollywood stuntman and animal handler before his acting career took off. Around this time, he received an approach from a producer to appear in a few re-shot opening sequences for a movie about a woodsman and his bear. Haggerty consented, but only on the condition that he be the film’s main star.

Based on Charles Sellier Jr.’s novel “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” the movie told the tale of a guy from California who was falsely convicted of murder and fled into the wilderness. He befriends an orphaned bear there and develops a close relationship with the animals. The $165,000 film, which had a minimal budget, ended up making about $30 million at the box office. Because of the show’s popularity, Haggerty was able to return to his duty as the environmentally conscious protector of the forest and all-around animal friend in February 1977.

With its warm and heartfelt storytelling, the TV show won over viewers’ hearts and brought Haggerty a 1978 People’s Choice Award for most popular performer in a new series. Two sequel movies, “Legend of the Wild” (1978) and “The Capture of Grizzly Adams” (1982), were produced as a result of “Grizzly Adams'” success. In the later, bounty hunters bring Adams back to town where he ultimately clears his record.


On November 19, 1942, Daniel Francis Haggerty was born in Los Angeles. He had a difficult upbringing following the divorce of his parents when he was a small child, and he even made several attempts to flee military school. He eventually moved in with his actor father in Burbank, California.

Little parts in movies like “Easy Rider” (1969) and “Muscle Beach Party” (1964) marked the beginning of Haggerty’s career. He also did cameos in movies about bikers and animals. Haggerty cohabited with his acting profession and kept wild animals under control on a tiny ranch in Malibu Canyon. As a result, he was cast in TV series like Tarzan and Daktari as an animal trainer and stuntman.

Over time, Haggerty produced a number of outdoor-themed movies, including The Adventures of Frontier Fremont (1976) and Where the North Wind Blows (1974). He even had an appearance in the 1983 David Carradine movie “Americana” as a dog trainer. Regretfully, he started doing horror movies like “Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan” (2013), “Terror Night” (1987), and “Elves” (1989) when his chances for mainstream acting declined.

Rate article