Dan Haggerty, Who Played Grizzly Adams

In the 1974 motion picture “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” and the corresponding NBC television series, Dan Haggerty played a bear named Ben and a gentle mountain man with a thick beard. Haggerty died in Burbank, California, on Friday.

His age was 73 years old.

Terry Bomar, his manager and friend, said that spine cancer was the cause.

A producer invited Mr. Haggerty, who worked as an animal trainer and stuntman in Hollywood, to recreate parts of the movie’s opening moments, which featured a woodsman and his bear.

The story, which was based on Charles Sellier Jr.’s book “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” told the story of a California man who flees the woods after being falsely convicted of murder. There, he tames an abandoned bear and makes friends with the local fauna.


Mr. Haggerty agreed, as long as he could play the entire movie. At last, ticket sales for the film nearly hauled in $30 million after it was redone for $155,000. Subsequently, it was adapted for television, and in February 1977, Mr. Haggerty resumed his role as the forest’s protector and animal friend, with an emphasis on environmental issues.


The New York Times writer John Leonard called the first episode “lukewarm to the heart.” The man and bear who have taken up residence in a log cabin are visited by Mad Jack (Denver Pyle) and the honorable red man Makuma (Don Shanks), who bring bread and advice. As they leave the cabin, the man traps his fur and the bear washes it. Along with a lump in the throat, there’s also a lot of wildlife connection with raccoons, owls, deer, rabbits, hawks, badgers, and cougars.

Mr. Haggerty, who later won the 1978 People’s Choice Award for best new series actor, was won over by viewers of the show because to its cozy and nostalgic appeal. The 1978 television film “Legend of the Wild,” which was eventually shown in theaters in 1981, and the 1982 television film “The Capture of Grizzly Adams,” which followed Adams as he was hauled back to his hometown by bounty hunters in an attempt to clean his record, were the products of “Grizzly Adams.”


Daniel Francis Haggerty was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1942. His upbringing was challenging following his parents’ divorce when he was three years old, and he frequently broke out of military school. He eventually went into Burbank, California, to live with his actor father.

At seventeen, he was married to Diane Rooker. The marriage ended in divorce. He lost Samantha Hilton, his second wife, in a motorcycle accident in 2008. Don, Megan, Tracy, Dylan, and Cody are his surviving children.

He costarred as body builder Biff alongside Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in his feature début, “Muscle Beach Party,” released in 1964. Then came appearances in documentaries about the natural world and motorcycling, like “Bearded Biker” and “Biker With Bandana.” He briefly appeared in the movie “Easy Rider” as a guest of Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in the hippie commune.

On his small ranch in Malibu Canyon, Mr. Haggerty actually housed a variety of wild creatures that he had either tamed from birth or saved from harm. In addition to occasional parts in films, his talents earned him work as an animal trainer and stuntman on the television series Tarzan and Daktari. In 1978, he claimed, “People magazine didn’t like actors jumping on them.”

In his outdoor-themed films, “Where the North Wind Blows” (1974) and “The Adventures of Frontier Fremont” (1976), he played a Siberian tiger trapper. He made an appearance as a dog trainer in the David Carradine film “Americana” (1983). In the 1997 film “Grizzly Mountain” and the 2000 film “Escape to Grizzly Mountain,” he played a character that bore a strong resemblance to Grizzly Adams.

Mr. Haggerty played an inebriated mall Santa in horror films including “Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan” (2013), “Terror Night” (1987), and “Elves” (1989) as his career declined. In 1985, he was sentenced to ninety days in prison for providing cocaine to two undercover police agents.

In 1977, a careless diner with a burning cocktail set fire to Mr. Haggerty’s famous beard. He made a third-degree burn attempt on his arms while attempting to douse the fire. He was admitted to the hospital, where he would probably need a month of therapy.

He told People, “I was like a wounded wolf trying to heal myself for the first few days—I just laid in the dark room drinking water.” “Nurses tried to give me morphine and pushed me to open the curtains.” Sometimes, however, animals know more about medicine than people do. He walked out of the hospital after ten days.

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