Grizzly Adams star, Dan Haggerty, dead at 74
Dan Haggerty, the star of 1970s movie and TV series The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, has died. He was 74.
A diagnosis of spine cancer was reportedly made after the actor had surgery for back pain five months ago.
His manager, Terry Bomar, said Haggerty died at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Centre in Burbank, California.
"I talked to him yesterday and told him we're praying for him," Bomar told CNN on Friday. "I told him 'I love you, man.' The last thing I heard him say was "I love you'."
The US star became famous after playing the bearded, rugged frontiersman, loosely based on a real-life 19th-century California mountain man, John Capen Adams, in a low-budget, hit 1974 movie.
Three years later NBC commissioned a TV series, which ran from 1977-82, about a woodsman, wrongly accused of a murder, who flees to the mountains and raises an orphaned bear cub he names Ben.
Haggerty, who went on to star in horror films, children's movies, comedies and other Grizzly Adams-style works, also appeared in TV shows Charlies Angels, The Love Boat and CHiPs, and worked as an animal trainer for Walt Disney Studios.
Before Grizzly Adams, Haggerty appeared in Elvis Presley movie Girl Happy and 1969 road movie Easy Rider.
In a 2012 interview, Haggerty recalled how working with live animals, including bears, lions, wolves and eagles, on the Grizzly Adams set was easy because he was a stuntman and animal trainer.
"I had lions and chimps and leopards and all kinds of things," he said. "So working with the bear and the eagle and all that was a very natural thing for me to do."
Actor Dan Haggerty discusses his Grizzly Adams role. Video: YouTube/Deano Essex
The real-life Adams, a cobbler born in Massachusetts in 1812, who moved from Boston to the Sierra-Nevada Mountains after several business ventures failed.
Leaving his wife and children behind, he lived in a self-built cabin where he learned to hunt and track animals, capturing and training several grizzly bears.
He used several as pack animals, including his favourites Benjamin Franklin, Lady Washington, and General Fremont, on tracking expeditions with Native Americans.
In 1856, he returned to San Francisco with a collection of live wild animals as a museum attraction, and four years later, New York where showman P.T. Barnum, founder of the famous Barnum and Bailey Circus, signed him up.
Reunited with his family, Adams became a huge success with Barnam's Old Grizzly Adams act, although a bear injury contributed to his death in 1860.
Adam's bear Samson is said to be the model for the bear depicted on California's state flag.
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams TV show spawned a wealth of now highly sought-after merchandise including a Mattel action figure doll (with toy axe), a lunch box and drink bottle, a Grizzly Adams "Save the animals adventure game", and a waste paper bin.
A new TV show and movie are reportedly underway.
- Sydney Morning Herald