Dan Haggerty, Who Played Grizzly Adams

Dan Haggerty, the beloved actor who portrayed the gentle mountain man with a magnificent beard and his trusty bear named Ben in the iconic 1974 movie “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” has passed away at the age of 73. His captivating portrayal of Grizzly Adams on both the big and small screens captured the hearts of millions of viewers and made him a household name.

Haggerty began his career in Hollywood as a stuntman and animal handler. It was during this time that he was approached by a producer to act in some opening scenes for a film about a woodsman and his bear. Intrigued by the opportunity, Haggerty agreed to participate but on the condition that he could star in the entire movie. This decision would prove to be a game-changer.

Based on the novel of the same name by Charles Sellier Jr., “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” told the story of a man wrongly accused of murder who finds solace and kinship with the animals in the wilderness. The film, made on a modest budget of $165,000, went on to gross nearly $30 million at the box office. Its immense success led to the creation of a television series, which premiered in February 1977. Haggerty reprised his role as Grizzly Adams, the eco-conscious guardian of the woods and friend to the animals.

The series was a hit, capturing the hearts of viewers with its genial and sentimental nature. Haggerty’s performance earned him a People’s Choice Award in 1978 for the most popular actor in a new series. The success of “Grizzly Adams” spawned two follow-up stories: “Legend of the Wild” in 1978 and “The Capture of Grizzly Adams” as a TV movie in 1982.

Born on November 19, 1942, in Los Angeles, Daniel Francis Haggerty had a troubled childhood. After escaping military school multiple times, he eventually went to live with his actor father in Burbank, California. Haggerty’s acting career began with small roles in films such as “Muscle Beach Party” (1964) and “Easy Rider” (1969). He later gained recognition for his roles in various outdoor-themed films like “Where the North Wind Blows” (1974) and “The Adventures of Frontier Fremont” (1976).

Apart from his on-screen performances, Haggerty had a genuine love for animals. He lived on a ranch in Malibu Canyon surrounded by a menagerie of tamed or rescued wild animals. His expertise in animal training and stunt work earned him jobs on TV shows like “Tarzan” and “Daktari,” as well as occasional work in films.

In his later years, Haggerty appeared in horror movies like “Terror Night” (1987) and “Elves” (1989), showcasing his versatility as an actor. Despite personal challenges, including a brief incarceration for drug-related charges, Haggerty never lost his passion for storytelling, animals, and the great outdoors.

Dan Haggerty’s impact as Grizzly Adams will forever be remembered, bringing joy and inspiration to audiences around the world. His extraordinary life and dedication to his craft serve as a testament to the power of following your passion. As we bid farewell to this beloved mountain man, we are reminded of the enduring legacy he leaves behind.

Dan Haggerty