Grizzly Adams star Dan Haggerty has died. The 74-year-old actor lost his five-month battle with cancer on Friday morning. Adams starred as a self-reliant mountain man in the cult classic movie, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams and portrayed the same enigmatic character in a television show by the same name. The movie grossed more than $50 million, quite a sizable for a film released in 1970s.
Dan Haggerty passed away surrounded by his family in Burbank, California. The Grizzly Adams star went to the doctor for treatment for back pain last year. After undergoing surgery for the back condition, Haggerty’s physicians discovered a spinal tumor.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 15, 2016
Dan Haggerty said he met with a filmmaker who asked him what he thought about starring in a movie called Grizzly Adams in the early 80s. The actor jokingly recalled saying that he was not too crazy about the idea at first. Grinning, he said he asked the movie producer how he would like to be known as “Grizzly,” CNN reports. The movie was loosely based on the life of trapper James “Grizzly” Adams. He left his wife and child to go live in the wilderness after being accused of a murder he steadfastly maintained that he didn’t commit.
Haggerty’s large stature, full beard, and long hair made him immediately appear to be the perfect actor to play Grizzly Adams, but he was only offered the part after another actor did not work out. The movie producer who offered him the role had just happened to see him work in another movie and felt he was the right man to bring the character to life. Ironically, when he was his secretary if she could find out if he was available to start a new project, the office staffer turned out to be his wife.
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams
Although The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams was only on the air for two seasons, the unusual subject matter for the time period and the endearing nature of the character and the affectionate bear named Ben he had raised from a cub, Haggerty’s character reached iconic status. The television show was such a huge favorite with viewers the movies Grizzly Mountain and Escape To Grizzly Mountain were made years were made in 1997 and 2000, IMDb notes. The Capture of Grizzly Adams was made in 2013.
The weekly television show was a hit with both children and adults. Long before reality television shows detailed the daily lives of folks homesteading and hunting in Alaska, Grizzly Adams revealed to Americans what life was like living in the wilderness. Haggerty’s character was strong of character while still possessing a soft heart for the animals that roamed his remote home and for the few human friends in his life that had earned his trust and respect.
Grizzly Adams TV Show – First Episode
Even off screen, the Grizzly Adams star had a great love and relationship with wild animals. Before Dan Haggerty became the center focus of the television camera he worked as a stuntman and regularly performed with animals. His love of exotic animals was shed by his wife and daughters who helped him work on his ranch with the family’s tiger, cougar, and leopard, People magazine reports.
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) January 15, 2016
The Grizzly Adams star underwent chemo for the spinal tumor last summer and thought his condition was improving until doctors found a cancer spot on his lung, according to Dan Haggerty’s long-time friend and manager, Terry Bomar.
In addition to working as a stuntman, Haggerty also acted in lesser-known beach movies, horror flicks, and films about bikers. 1991 was a monumental year for the actor. He opened a restaurant in Los Angeles but then suffered significant injures during a motorcycle. Little more than a decade later, his beloved with Samantha Haggerty, lost her life in a motorcycle crash. The Grizzly Adams actor is survived by five children, two grandchildren, and three brothers.
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[Image via Twitter]