The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams

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The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams
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]
television series
Grizzly Adams 1977.JPG
Dan Haggerty and 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 1 hour
Production company(s) Sunn Classic Pictures
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Original channel NBC
Original run February 9, 1977  – May 12, 1978
(two TV films aired later on)

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams is a 1972 novel by Charles E. Sellier Jr.. There is a 1974 film based on the novel, a two-season NBC television series, and a 1982 TV movie. The title character, played by Dan Haggerty, is loosely based on the actual trapper James "Grizzly" Adams.

Grizzly Adams (Haggerty) is a woodsman during the frontier era who flees into the mountains after he is wrongly accused of murder. While struggling to survive, Adams discovers an orphaned grizzly bear cub whom he takes in and calls Ben. The bear, despite his huge adult size, becomes Adams's closest companion. Adams proves to have an uncanny link to most of the indigenous wildlife of the region, who have no fear of him. In return, he resolves never to harm another animal whenever possible. In the television series, Adams had two human companions, an old trader named Mad Jack the Mountain Man (Denver Pyle, commonly featured with a mule named "Number Seven") and a native American named Nakoma (Don Shanks). Together, they helped various visitors while protecting the wildlife.

The series was concluded with a 1982 TV movie called The Capture of Grizzly Adams where a bounty hunter used Adams's daughter—not seen or mentioned since the 1974 film—to draw him back to civilization. In the end, Adams proved his innocence. NBC aired this 2 hour finale on February 21, 1982.


In addition to Ben, there were many other named animals in the series, the most prominent being Number 7, Mad Jack's ornery mule.

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 the creation of Sunn Classic Pictures, a company based in Park City, Utah, operated by founder Charles E. Sellier Jr., who had written the book on which first the 1974 movie, and then the series, was based. The studio successfully made up for its lack of experience with lavish marketing and promotional budgets. The 1974 movie was a runaway success. Produced on a paltry budget of $140,000, it went on to earn $45,411,063 at the domestic box office[2] and $65 million worldwide.[1] It was the 7th highest grossing film of 1974. The 43% market share captured by a 1976 airing of this film on NBC caused network executives to greenlight a television series. This series drew a 32% market share, a figure which still remains very significant to this day. The enterprise also came at a time when the environmental movement flourished.

In a 1978 interview with TV Guide, Sellier said that the company used extensive market testing to produce the series, which was based on tests showing that audiences liked stories about men and animals in the wilderness; that bears were favorite wilderness animals; and that grizzlies were the favorite type of bear.[3] The actual filming locations for the television series took place in the mountains near Ruidoso, New Mexico.

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.[citation needed]

Episode list[edit]

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[edit]

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]

Referenced in pop-culture[edit]

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

Television and film references to Haggerty's portrayal of Adams include SCTV (1980–1981 season), Clerks (1994 film), Happy Gilmore (1996 film), the "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows" episode of Family Guy (2002), and What Just Happened? (2008 film).

"Grizzly Adams" is also the name of a Mr. Bungle song from album The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, and a professional German ice hockey team.


  1. ^ a b Grizzly Adams Returns - Classic Series Now on DVD. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  2. ^ "Box Office Information for The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams". The Numbers. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ Chimpson, Janice C. (June 6, 1978). "Studio Cleans Up By Marketing Films Like Selling Soap.". The Wall Street Journal. 
  4. ^ "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams: Episode Guide". 
  5. ^ "Once Upon a Starry Night". 
  6. ^ "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams – Season 1". TV shows on DVD. 
  7. ^ "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams – Season 2". TV shows on DVD. 
  8. ^ DVD Announced for 'The Capture of Grizzly Adams' Wrap-Up Telefilm

External links[edit]