The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams

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).

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Friedenberg
Produced by
Written byLawrence Dobkin
Music byThom Pace
CinematographyGeorge Stapleford
Edited byGeorge Stapleford
Distributed by
  • Sunn Classic Pictures
  • Sun International
Release date
  • November 13, 1974 (1974-11-13)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$65 million[1]
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (TV series)
Grizzly Adams 1977.JPG
Dan Haggerty as "Grizzly Adams" and Bozo the bear as "Ben", 1977
Created byCharles E. Sellier Jr.
Narrated byDenver Pyle
Theme music composerThom Pace
Opening theme"Maybe"
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes38
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Schick Sunn Classic Productions
DistributorViacom Enterprises
Original networkNBC
Original releaseFebruary 9, 1977 –
May 12, 1978

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][3]


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. Parts of the film were shot in the Uinta National Forest, Wasatch National Forest, and Park City.[4] 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[5] 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.[citation needed] At the beginning of each episode, part of the theme song is sung, while at the end, the entire theme song is sung. "Mad Jack" also introduces the circumstances of Grizzly Adams, referring to him as a "greenhorn", his friendship with Ben and all of the animals. 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.

Production for the series also took place in Utah, with location work in Arizona and Ruidoso, New Mexico, depending on weather conditions, due to the similarities in terrain. As with the film, animals were provided and trained by the Olympic Game Farm, housed at a second game farm built at Woodland. A scaled-down version of Grizzly Adams' cabin, used to make Dan Haggerty appear taller, is currently located at the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, Washington.[6]

Episode listEdit

Ep Title Air date PC[7]
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams November 13, 1974
1-01 "Adam's Cub" February 9, 1977 704
1-02 "Blood Brothers" February 16, 1977 703
1-03 "The Fugitive" February 23, 1977 705
1-04 "Unwelcome Neighbor" March 2, 1977 701
1-05 "Howdy-Do, I'm Mad Jack" March 9, 1977 706
1-06 "Adam's Ark" March 16, 1977 709
1-07 "The Redemption of Ben" March 23, 1977 710
1-08 "The Tenderfoot" March 30, 1977 707
1-09 "The Rivals" April 6, 1977 712
1-10 "The Unholy Beast" April 20, 1977 711
1-11 "Beaver Dam" April 27, 1977 702
1-12 "Home of the Hawk" May 5, 1977 708
1-13 "The Storm" May 12, 1977 713
2-01 "Hot Air Hero" September 28, 1977 718
2-02 "Survival" October 12, 1977 715
2-03 "A Bear's Life" October 19, 1977 716
2-04 "The Trial" October 26, 1977 714
2-05 "The Orphans" November 2, 1977 723
2-06 "The Search" November 9, 1977 720
2-07 "Gold Is Where You Find It" November 23, 1977 724
2-08 "Track of the Cougar" December 14, 1977 719
2-09 "The Choice" December 21, 1977 717
2-10 "Woman in the Wilderness" December 28, 1977 722
2-11 "The Spoilers" January 4, 1978 727
2-12 "Marvin the Magnificent" January 11, 1978 721
2-13 "A Time of Thirsting" January 18, 1978 725
2-14 "The Seekers" January 25, 1978 726
2-15 "A Gentleman Tinker" February 8, 1978 730
2-16 "The Runaway" February 22, 1978 729
2-17 "The Great Burro Race" March 1, 1978 733
2-18 "The Littlest Greenhorn" March 15, 1978 732
2-19 "The Renewal" (two hours) March 22, 1978 736
2-20 "The Stranger" April 5, 1978 728
2-21 "The Quest" April 26, 1978 734
2-22 "The Skyrider" May 5, 1978 735
2-23 "The World's Greatest Bounty Hunter" May 12, 1978 731
2-24 Once Upon a Starry Night (70 minutes)
Theatrically released as
Legend of the Wild [8]
December 19, 1978
November 1981
The Capture of Grizzly Adams (96 minutes) February 21, 1982

Home mediaEdit

Shout! Factory, under license from CBS Home Entertainment, released both seasons in two region-1, 4-DVD sets: season 1 on November 6, 2012,[9] and Season 2 on February 19, 2013.[10] The same eight discs were reissued as Grizzly Adams: The Complete Series on May 31, 2016.

The Season sets do 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 just after the regular series ended in 1978, 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.[11]


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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Grizzly Adams Returns - Classic Series Now on DVD. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Rosen, Leah, with Tom Gliatto and Cathy Free, "State of Bruin", People, Oct. 20, 1997, available online at, accessed May 27, 2015.
  4. ^ D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  5. ^ "Box Office Information for The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams". The Numbers. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  6. ^ Beebe, Lloyd (2005). Wilderness Trails And A Dream: The Story Behind the Olympic Game Farm, Third Edition. Forks, WA: Olympic Graphic Arts, Inc. p. 159-161. ISBN 0-615-12878-5.
  7. ^ "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams: Episode Guide".
  8. ^ "Once Upon a Starry Night".
  9. ^ "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams – Season 1". TV shows on DVD. Archived from the original on 2012-09-07.
  10. ^ "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams – Season 2". TV shows on DVD. Archived from the original on 2013-06-01.
  11. ^ DVD Announced for 'The Capture of Grizzly Adams' Wrap-Up Telefilm Archived 2013-08-22 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit