The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Friedenberg
Produced by Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Raylan D. Jensen
Written by Lawrence Dobkin
Starring Dan Haggerty
Denver Pyle
Don Shanks
Music by Thom Pace
Cinematography George Stapleford
Edited by George Stapleford
Distributed by Sunn Classic Pictures
Sun International
Paramount Pictures (current)
Release dates
  • November 13, 1974 (1974-11-13)
Running time
93 min.
Country United States
Budget $140,000
Box office $65 million[1]
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (TV series)

Dan Haggerty as "Grizzly Adams" and
Bozo the bear as "Ben", 1977
Created by Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Starring Dan Haggerty
Denver Pyle
Don Shanks
Narrated by Denver Pyle
Theme music composer Thom Pace
Opening theme "Maybe"
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 38
Running time 60 mins.
Production company(s) Schick Sunn Classic Productions
Distributor Viacom Enterprises
CBS Television Distribution
Original network NBC
Original release February 9, 1977 – May 12, 1978
(two TV films aired later on)

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams is a 1974 independent feature film inspired by a 1972 historical fiction novella written by Charles E. Sellier Jr.. The film's popularity led to an NBC television series of the same name. The title character, played by Dan Haggerty, was loosely based on California mountain man James "Grizzly" Adams (1812-1860), whose real name was "John Capen Adams," a one-time Boston shoe and boot maker.

The film and TV series portrayed the fictional Grizzly Adams as a frontier woodsman who fled into the mountains after he was wrongly accused of murder. While struggling to survive, Adams saves an orphaned grizzly bear cub he adopts and names Ben. The bear, while growing to its huge adult size, becomes Adams' closest companion. Consistently kind and gentle, Adams discovers and demonstrates an uncanny ability to gain the trust of most of the indigenous wildlife of the region, and he helps, sometimes rescues, takes in and tames many species. Originally a hunter, with his learned affection for wildlife Adams resolves never to harm another animal whenever possible. In the television series, Adams had two human friends, an old mountain man trader named "Mad Jack" played by Denver Pyle who was often featured with his mule, ("Number Seven") and a Native American by the name of "Nakoma" played by Don Shanks. Adams, Mad Jack, and Nakoma helped myriad mountain visitors while protecting wildlife at the same time.

NBC aired the series finale on February 21, 1982 by way of a two-hour TV movie called The Capture of Grizzly Adams where a bounty hunter used Adams' daughter, who was not seen or mentioned since the 1974 film, in a kidnap-extortion ploy to lure the fugitive mountain man back to civilization. In the end Adams proves his innocence.


In addition to Ben, there were many other named animals in the TV series, the most prominent being Number 7, Mad Jack's ornery mule. Bart the Bear, then a bear cub, made one of his first acting appearances in the series playing Ben as a cub.[2]

Gene Edwards—a stunt double for Dan Haggerty—later played Grizzly Adams in the otherwise unrelated 1990 film The Legend of Grizzly Adams.


Grizzly Adams was created and produced by Schick Sunn Classic Pictures, a company based in Park City, Utah and operated by its founding executives, Patrick Frawley, Charles E. Sellier Jr., and Rayland Jenson. The low-budget independent studio successfully introduced innovative marketing and promotional methods. Its 1974 'Grizzly Adams' movie was a runaway success. Produced on a small $140,000 budget, the film grossed over $45 million at the domestic box office[3] and $65 million worldwide.[1] It was the 7th highest grossing film of 1974. The 43% market share captured by a 1976 airing of the film on NBC led to network executives green-lighting the television series. The series drew a 32% market share, a significant figure to this day. The series also aired at a time when the environmental movement flourished.

The show's theme song, “Maybe,” was written and sung by Thom Pace. The song was released as a single in Europe, where it reached number one, and in 1980 won Germany's Goldene Europa award for best song.

After selling many products bearing the Grizzly Adams brand name, the brand was eventually trademarked by its creator, film producer, Charles E. Sellier, Jr. Following Sellier's death in early 2011, the brand rights were transferred to Grizzly Adams LLC.

Episode list

Prod.#[4] Episode Air date
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams November 13, 1974
701 "Unwelcome Neighbor" March 2, 1977
702 "Beaver Dam" April 27, 1977
703 "Blood Brothers" February 16, 1977
704 "Adam's Cub" February 9, 1977
705 "The Fugitive" February 23, 1977
706 "Howdy-Do, I'm Mad Jack" March 9, 1977
707 "The Tenderfoot" March 30, 1977
708 "Home of the Hawk" May 5, 1977
709 "Adam's Ark" March 16, 1977
710 "The Redemption of Ben" March 23, 1977
711 "The Unholy Beast" April 20, 1977
712 "The Rivals" April 6, 1977
713 "The Storm" May 12, 1977
714 "The Trial" October 26, 1977
715 "Survival" October 12, 1977
716 "A Bear's Life" October 19, 1977
717 "The Choice" December 21, 1977
718 "Hot Air Hero" September 28, 1977
719 "Track of the Cougar" December 14, 1977
720 "The Search" November 9, 1977
721 "Marvin the Magnificent" January 11, 1978
722 "Woman in the Wilderness" December 28, 1977
723 "The Orphans" November 2, 1977
724 "Gold Is Where You Find It" November 23, 1977
725 "A Time of Thirsting" January 18, 1978
726 "The Seekers" January 25, 1978
727 "The Spoilers" January 4, 1978
728 "The Stranger" April 5, 1978
729 "The Runaway" February 22, 1978
730 "A Gentleman Tinker" February 8, 1978
731 "The World's Greatest Bounty Hunter" May 12, 1978
732 "The Littlest Greenhorn" March 15, 1978
733 "The Great Burro Race" March 1, 1978
734 "The Quest" April 26, 1978
735 "The Skyrider" May 5, 1978
736 "The Renewal" (two hours) March 22, 1978
737 Once Upon a Starry Night (two hours)
Theatrically released as
Legend of the Wild [5]
December 19, 1978
November 1981
The Capture of Grizzly Adams (two hours) February 21, 1982

DVD releases

Timeless Media Group—under license from CBS Home Entertainment—released both seasons on DVD in Region 1. Season 1 on November 6, 2012,[6] and Season 2 on February 19, 2013.[7]

The Season 1 set does not include the 1974 film The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams which led to the series. The Season 2 set does include Once Upon a Starry Night which aired after the regular series ended, but not The Capture of Grizzly Adams which aired in 1982.

On November 12, 2013, CBS Home Entertainment released The Capture of Grizzly Adams on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time.[8]


Dan Haggerty also played Jeremiah—a modern-day version of Grizzly Adams—in the films Grizzly Mountain (1997) and Escape to Grizzly Mountain (2000).

See also


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