The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams is a 1974 independent feature film created and produced 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 John "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[2] or $24 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 languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes38
Running time60 minutes
Production companySchick Sunn Classic Productions
DistributorViacom Enterprises
Original networkNBC
Original releaseFebruary 9, 1977 (1977-02-09) –
May 12, 1978 (1978-05-12)

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.[3][4]


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.[5] 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[6] and $65 million worldwide.[2] 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.

Bozo was purchased from a Kansas zoo, and trained by R.E. (Bob) Leonard.[7]

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.[8]

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]


Season 1 (1977)Edit

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
11"Adam's Cub"James L. ConwayArthur HeinemannFebruary 9, 1977 (1977-02-09)704
22"Blood Brothers"Jack B. HivelyPaul W. CooperFebruary 16, 1977 (1977-02-16)703
33"Fugitive"Richard FriedenbergStory by : Hindi Brooks
Teleplay by : Paul Hunter & Arthur Heinemann
February 23, 1977 (1977-02-23)705
44"Unwelcome Neighbor"James L. ConwayStory by : Larry Dobkin
Teleplay by : Paul Hunter
March 2, 1977 (1977-03-02)701
55"Howdy-Do, I'm Mad Jack"Jack B. HivelyJim Carlson & Terrence McDonnellMarch 9, 1977 (1977-03-09)706
66"Adam's Ark"Jack B. HivelySamuel A. PeeplesMarch 16, 1977 (1977-03-16)709
77"The Redemption of Ben"James L. ConwayStory by : Samuel A. Peeples
Teleplay by : Jim Carlson & Terrence McDonnell
March 23, 1977 (1977-03-23)710
88"The Tenderfoot"James L. ConwaySamuel A. PeeplesMarch 30, 1977 (1977-03-30)707
99"The Rivals"Sharon MillerStory by : Joyce Perry & Larry Dobkin
Teleplay by : Paul Hunter
April 6, 1977 (1977-04-06)712
1010"The Unholy Beast"Jack B. HivelyStory by : Kenneth Dorward
Teleplay by : Kenneth Dorward and Jim Carlson & Terrence McDonnell
April 20, 1977 (1977-04-20)711
1111"Beaver Dam"Richard FriedenbergPaul HunterApril 27, 1977 (1977-04-27)702
1212"Home of the Hawk"Richard FriedenbergJon Gerald & Jane MacKenzieMay 5, 1977 (1977-05-05)708
1313"The Storm"Richard FriedenbergPreston WoodMay 12, 1977 (1977-05-12)713

Season 2 (1977–78)Edit

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
141"Hot Air Hero"Richard FriedenbergE. Jack KaplanSeptember 28, 1977 (1977-09-28)718
152"Survival"Sharon MillerPeter GermanoOctober 12, 1977 (1977-10-12)715
163"A Bear's Life"Jack B. HivelyPaul W. CooperOctober 19, 1977 (1977-10-19)716
174"The Trial"Jack B. HivelyDavid O'MalleyOctober 26, 1977 (1977-10-26)714
185"The Orphans"Jack B. HivelyStory by : Ray Goldrup
Teleplay by : Ray Goldrup & Malvin Wald
November 2, 1977 (1977-11-02)723
196"The Search"Richard FriedenbergLeonard B. Kaufman & Malvin WaldNovember 9, 1977 (1977-11-09)720
207"Gold is Where You Find It"Richard FriedenbergStory by : Dick Conway & Leonard B. Kaufman
Teleplay by : Dick Conway
November 23, 1977 (1977-11-23)724
218"Track of the Cougar"Sharon MillerWorley ThorneDecember 14, 1977 (1977-12-14)719
229"The Choice"Sharon MillerLeonard B. Kaufman & Malvin WaldDecember 21, 1977 (1977-12-21)717
2310"Woman in the Wilderness"Richard FriedenbergLeonard B. Kaufman & Malvin WaldDecember 28, 1977 (1977-12-28)722
2411"The Spoilers"Jack B. HivelyStory by : Leonard Kaufman & Malvin Wald
Teleplay by : Malvin Wald
January 4, 1978 (1978-01-04)727
2512"Marvin the Magnificent"Jack B. HivelyJack JacobsJanuary 11, 1978 (1978-01-11)721
2613"A Time of Thirsting"Jack B. HivelyBrian RussellJanuary 18, 1978 (1978-01-18)725
2714"The Seekers"Richard FriedenbergStory by : Christopher Jean-Pierre De Tocqueville & Brian Russell
Teleplay by : Brian Russell
January 25, 1978 (1978-01-25)726
2815"A Gentleman Tinker"David O'MalleyBrian RussellFebruary 8, 1978 (1978-02-08)730
2916"The Runaway"Jack B. HivelyMalvin Wald & Jack JacobsFebruary 22, 1978 (1978-02-22)729
3017"The Great Burro Race"Jack B. HivelyDick ConwayMarch 1, 1978 (1978-03-01)733
3118"The Littlest Greenhorn"Richard FriedenbergMalvin Wald & Jack JacobsMarch 15, 1978 (1978-03-15)732
3219"The Renewal"Jack B. HivelyMalvin Wald & Jack JacobsMarch 22, 1978 (1978-03-22)736
3320"The Stranger"Jack B. HivelyLeonard B. KaufmanApril 5, 1978 (1978-04-05)728
3421"The Quest"Chris MungerStory by : Kirby Timmons and Malvin Wald & Jack Jacobs
Teleplay by : Malvin Wald & Jack Jacobs
April 26, 1978 (1978-04-26)734
3522"The Skyrider"Allan EastmanStory by : Dick Conway & Fenton Hobart Jr.
Teleplay by : Dick Conway
May 5, 1978 (1978-05-05)735
3623"The World's Greatest Bounty Hunter"S. TravisJim Carlson & Dick Conway & Terrence McDonnellMay 12, 1978 (1978-05-12)731
3724"Once Upon a Starry Night"Jack B. HivelyBrian Russell & James SimmonsDecember 19, 1978 (1978-12-19)737
Theatrically released as Legend of the Wild.[12]


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 "A G-Rated Success Story From Sunn Classics: Charles Sellier Is Hitting the Film Industry Where In Hurts -- the Box Office A G-Rated Success Story From Charles Sellier's Sunn Classics". Joel Kotkin. The Washington Post. 13 Dec 1977: B1.
  2. ^ a b "Grizzly Adams Returns - Classic Series Now on DVD". Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Rosen, Leah, with Tom Gliatto and Cathy Free, "State of Bruin", People, Oct. 20, 1997, available online at, accessed May 27, 2015.
  5. ^ D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  6. ^ "Box Office Information for The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams". The Numbers. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  7. ^ Woolery, George W. (1985). Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981, Part II: Live, Film, and Tape Series. The Scarecrow Press. pp. 293–295. ISBN 0-8108-1651-2.
  8. ^ Beebe, Lloyd (2005). Wilderness Trails And A Dream: The Story Behind the Olympic Game Farm, Third Edition. Forks, WA: Olympic Graphic Arts, Inc. pp. 159–161. ISBN 0-615-12878-5.
  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
  12. ^ "Once Upon a Starry Night". Archived from the original on 2007-07-15.

External linksEdit