Show Type: Adventure

First Telecast: February 9, 1977

Last Telecast: July 26, 1978

Broadcast History:

February 1977 – July 1978, Wednesday 8:00-9:00 on NBC


James "Grizzly" Adams..... Dan Haggerty

Mad Jack..... Denver Pyle

Nakuma..... Don Shanks

Robbie Cartman..... John Bishop


Set in the western United States during the late 1800's, The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams was the story of a man accused of a crime he had not committed, who sought refuge in the wilderness and discovered that life there suited him better than life in the city. With the help of a friend named Mad Jack and an Indian blood brother, Nakuma, Grizzly built a sturdy cabin and determined to live in harmony with nature. A grizzly bear cub that he had rescued from a ledge became his roommate. The bear was christened Ben, and though he grew to be an imposing animal weighing several hundred pounds, he remained as friendly as a child. With Ben as his constant companion, the bearded Grizzly Adams found wilderness adventure in dealing with nature, the elements, and strangers passing through. A frequent visitor was young Robbie Cartman, the son of a farmer living in the area, who loved to listen to Grizzly’s tales.

Dan Haggerty, who starred in the series, played the same role in the movie, "The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams," and a similar role in another film, "The Adventures Of Frontier Freemont." Haggerty was originally an animal trainer rather than an actor, and was chosen for the film roles partly because of his remarkable rapport with bears. Denver Pyle appeared as his co-star in both films.

There was a real Grizzly Adams, upon whom this series was loosely based. He was born in Massachusetts in 1812 and spent many years in the Sierra Nevada’s after having gone bankrupt through a series of unfortunate business deals. The real Grizzly was a bit less altruistic than his TV counterpart. Having deserted his wife and children, he spent much of his time hunting and killing animals and capturing others for zoos (a few larger beasts almost killed him on one occasion or another). The real Ben died in a zoo that Adams himself opened in San Francisco in the 1850's. But Adams also loved animals and cared for many of them throughout his wilderness days. He died while on tour with P.T. Barnum in 1860.