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"The story of Grizzly Adams is big and powerful. Beautiful!"
May 8, 2013 10:46 PM   Subscribe

"Now, my friend Adams was accused of a crime he didn't commit, so he escaped into the mountains, leaving behind the only life that he ever knew." In 1977, three years after the popular movie The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams introduced the story of John "Grizzly" Adams to the public, a TV show of the same name premiered.

Background
* Official Site for the movie and tv series
* John ‘Grizzly’ Adams did exist. He was a California frontiersman who lived from 1812 to 1860, and resided in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the 1850s. He experienced the great California Gold Rush and the birth of San Francisco. The movie and tv show were loosely based on his life.

Contemporary Essays
* P.T. Barnum: Old Grizzly Adams and The California Menagerie
* An essay from James Adams himself: Jaguars in California
* Two biographies of the real John "Grizzly" Adams are available for download at archive.org:
1) "The adventures of James Capen Adams, mountaineer and grizzly bear hunter, of California" by Theodore Hittell (1860)
2) Old Grizzly Adams, the bear tamer; or, "The monarch of the mountains." (1899, c1884) by Frank Powell.

Movie
* The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (1974) Starring Dan Haggerty, who would continue to play the role in the two-season television series.The movie had a reported budget of between $165,000 and $250,000. By 1978, it had made over 30 million in box office sales.

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (TV Show: 1977-1978)
Playlist
Links to Individual Episodes
1: Adams Cub
2: Blood Brothers
3: The Fugitive
4: Unwelcome Neighbors
5: Howdy-Do, I’m Mad Jack
6: Adams Ark
7: Redemption of Ben
8: Tenderfoot Theodore
9: The Rivals
10: The Unholy Beast
11: Beaver Dam
12: Home of the Hawk
13: The Storm
14: Hot Air Hero
15: Survival
16: A Bear’s Life
17: The Trial
18: The Orphans
19: The Search
20: Gold Is Where You Find It
21: Track of the Cougar
22: The Choice
23: Woman in the Wilderness
24: The Spoilers
25: Marvin the Magnificent
26: A Time of Thirsting
27: The Seekers
28: A Gentleman Tinker
29: The Runaway
30: The Great Burro Race
31: The Littlest Greenhorn
32: (TV Movie) The Renewal
33: The Stranger
34: The Quest
35: The Skyrider
36: The World’s Greatest Bounty Hunter
37 (TV Movie): Once Upon A Starry Night

Haggerty went on to reprise the role in The Capture of Grizzly Adams (1982)

Music
* The theme song was performed by Thom Pace, and is named Maybe. Here’s Pace performing it in 1979.
* A larger medley: Wear the Sun in Your Heart / Maybe
posted by zarq (45 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I keep threatening my family that if they don't shape up I'm going to run off and live in the mountains with a bear named Ben but they don't believe me.

Which is good, because I say a lot of stuff.
posted by mazola at 11:14 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: I think the animals come to him because he smells like bacon.
posted by mazola at 11:15 PM on May 8, 2013


I wonder if Grizzly Adams ever encountered the Guy On a Buffalo?
Seems to me they would get along well.
posted by dougzilla at 11:21 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some more Bay Path Cemetery
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 11:28 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think they should remake grizzly adams with ryan reynolds in the titular role
posted by subbes at 11:37 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


... and Justin Bieber as Ben!
posted by mazola at 11:48 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was little my imaginary friend was a grizzly bear...he lived in the basement and I made my mom feed him dog food. The bear's name was Bosley. I'm quite sure the bear was because of this show and the bear's name was because of Charlie's Angels.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:51 PM on May 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


This show reminds me of 'Hinterland Who's Who' + Hammy Hamster + Kraft commercials. In a good way.
posted by mazola at 12:01 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I keep threatening my family that if they don't shape up I'm going to run off and live in the mountains with a bear named Ben but they don't believe me.

Gentle Ben?
posted by pracowity at 12:54 AM on May 9, 2013


I remember it well - kept wanting the narrator to cough and CLEAR HIS DAMN THROAT ALREADY
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:54 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always thought Gentile Ben was a dangerous brute who could not be trusted. But then you Gentiles - sheesh. Always with the brutality.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:33 AM on May 9, 2013


Wow, I didn't know it was a feature film before the show. Anyone seen it?
posted by zardoz at 2:17 AM on May 9, 2013


Chewbacca comes from the love that Grizzly Adams and Ben shared, away from the prying eyes of 19th century society.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:51 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Did he become "Old" Grizzly Adams before or after he died at age 48?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:34 AM on May 9, 2013


What this thread really needs is a link to "The Ballad of Dan Haggerty" by Tom Heinl, but I can't find the song online.
posted by snofoam at 3:47 AM on May 9, 2013


Surprised there were only 36 episodes. Every time I was home from school sick or what have you, I watched this, right through the early 80s.
posted by wilful at 4:14 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


It seems like there was a vogue for movies like this at that time. "Born Free", etc. I can remember being taken to some very nature-y, back to the unspoiled land, G-rated films as a small kid (early 70's).
posted by thelonius at 4:29 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first comedy sketch I ever thought of had to do with Gentle Ben. Ben suddenly and without warning, realizes "Hey, I'm a FUCKIN BEAR!" and start tearing into those around him. THE END (I was only 11 years old so cut me some slack, I wasn't good with endings).
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:52 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you like John "Grizzly" Adams then it's maybe worth sparing some time to read about Enos Mills (apparently played in this link by Peter Weller). One of the leading figures behind the founding of the Rocky Mountain National Park and whose books are great reading even now.
posted by longbaugh at 4:52 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I first discovered "Grizzly Adams" while I was in college in the early 90s. This was back when the FX network first debuted and was mostly wall to wall reruns from the 60s and 70s like "Eight is Enough", "Nanny and the Professor" and "Family Affair". "Grizzly Adams" used to play every weekend morning and was appointment viewing for me.

Knowing I was about to graduate and enter the workforce, and having all of the associated stress and nervousness that caused, having this escapist fantasy where I could imagine forgoing the corporate route and instead living off the land in the beautiful wilderness with the help of some friendly bears, deer and squirrels was the perfect antidote.
posted by The Gooch at 5:23 AM on May 9, 2013


Grizzly Adamns being replaced by the Grizzly Man is proof that we are growing up.
posted by srboisvert at 5:35 AM on May 9, 2013


Grisly Addams?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:41 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to the wikipedia bio for Haggerty, he's working on developing a new "mountain man in the woods" type of show.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:43 AM on May 9, 2013


This show, interspersed with Hamm's Commercials and boy scout weekends are huge part of why I am disappearing into hills and mountains of Colorado, Utah and Arizona for the next 2.5 weeks.

I favorited this so I can take it all in when I get back - right now, I need to get the truck loaded. And yes, I'm taking a 12er of Hamms.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:53 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


pogo, have fun!
posted by zarq at 6:03 AM on May 9, 2013


You need more Hamms.
posted by aramaic at 6:05 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, this show was an influence into my adulthood. When I went to live in an Alaskan cabin I was picturing myself living like Grizzly Adams with my stove, my raccoon buddy ('cause Alaskan bears are dangerous or so I was told) and living off the land. It did not turn out that way, though I did get to carve sculptures from potatoes during the winter.
posted by jadepearl at 6:08 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


* An essay from James Adams himself: Jaguars in California

I understand he was one of Motor Trend's most popular guest essayists.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:10 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid I still secretly wanted to be Grizzly Adams so bad!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:18 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Loved that show when I was a kid, and now I'll be humming the theme song all day.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:23 AM on May 9, 2013


Wow, I didn't know it was a feature film before the show. Anyone seen it?

First movie I ever saw in a theater, as far as I can recall. Strangely, I don't really remember the television show at all. I'm starting to rewatch the movie now and it isn't stirring many memories yet. I must have only been about five years old, and the takeaway for me was "a man with a beard made friends with a bear named Ben." I think I remember something about Ben getting himself into some kind of a predicament on a very steep hillside later in the movie. The stronger memory I have is of after the movie when my friend's dad took us to the store and let us pick out whatever candy we wanted.

I did grow up to relish the time I get to spend in the wilderness, but with the exception of gray jays, which are always interested in being fed, animals typically want nothing to do with me there. This bear came to check out my campsite a couple summers ago, but frankly I'm just as happy to not encounter bears, especially when I'm in grizzly territory.
posted by Balonious Assault at 6:29 AM on May 9, 2013


I was fascinated UTTERLY FASCINATED by this big man and his big beard and his rustic lifestyle and his bearded friend who would show up and they'd hang out in long johns together...

It should have been an early sign of my proclivities, but who guesses these things when they're 9 years old?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to brush my beard out and put on my long johns. I have some hanging out with men to do.
posted by hippybear at 6:34 AM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I LOVED that show as a kid.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:45 AM on May 9, 2013


First movie I ever saw in a theater, as far as I can recall.

I saw it too, but it was not my first. I think it was the first that was not a flat-out kids movie though (Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The AristoCats and such were earlier). I watched the show faithfully on TV, though. I recall being fascinated because I was by that time already aware that there were occasionally TV spinoffs of movies but that invariably the roles got recast -- Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau morphed into Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, say. I recall being puzzled that Dan Haggerty continued in the role on the TV show. C-lister though he was, it was the same guy, which was weird. Also his flip of a beard was arrestingly strange.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:46 AM on May 9, 2013


Well, he did.
posted by HostBryan at 7:55 AM on May 9, 2013


Grizzly Adams DID have a Beard

I wonder what her name was?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:13 AM on May 9, 2013


Don Shanks, who played Nakoma, later landed a role as Michael Myers in Halloween 5..

I recall learning back in the day when Haggerty narrowly avoided jail time for drug abuse, and since then I had assumed he died or such. Glad he is still around, and I wonder if anyone whose kids today are shown the program will find it engaging as those of us who grew up with it?
posted by skyper at 8:30 AM on May 9, 2013


When I was little my imaginary friend was a grizzly bear...he lived in the basement and I made my mom feed him dog food. The bear's name was Bosley. I'm quite sure the bear was because of this show and the bear's name was because of Charlie's Angels.

The 70's were, in many ways, an amazing time to grow up in... I think it might have been something to do with having television, but there only being a handful of channels.
posted by mikelieman at 9:01 AM on May 9, 2013


This was one of my favourite shows when I was small, and I am so happy to see such a wonderful FPP honouring it and the man who inspired it.
posted by batmonkey at 10:20 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember when the small local zoo in Lincoln NE where I grew up received one of the bears from the Grizzly Adams TV show. That bear was a celebrity for months, with people lined around the whole exhibit all day. Years later, no one was interested, and my friends hadn't heard of the show.
posted by asfuller at 10:36 AM on May 9, 2013


'Enthusiasm' for bringing bears and lynx back to Scotland
posted by homunculus at 10:54 AM on May 9, 2013


'Enthusiasm' for bringing bears and lynx back to Scotland

Yes, because what every Glaswegian pub needs is another grumpy, hairy beast that they have to run off at closing.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:17 AM on May 9, 2013


Man, oh man, how have I forgotten this show? Reruns of the tv show aired on Sunday mornings where I grew up, so I didn't get to watch it as much as I'd have liked (every week) but when I did get to watch it, it came with the added benefit of having skipped church with my dad.

What I'm saying is that this post is essentially the Homer Simpson's Patented Space Age Out of this World Moon Waffle of my youth, and if you don't think I'm going to be watching episodes from bed next Sunday morning, you don't know me at all.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:50 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now I also remember why my brother's stuffed dog had the middle name "Capen"
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:42 AM on May 10, 2013


I'm enjoying the heck out of these episodes. Whenever Adams says, "Jack and Nakoma," I keep thinking he's saying "Jack in a coma."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:42 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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