40th Anniversary of The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams debuted 40 years ago today on NBC. Dan Haggerty starred as James Capen Adams, a man wanted dead or alive for a murder he didn’t commit. He fled into the wilderness, rescued a bear cub, built a cabin, and found a new life for himself. Denver Pyle co-starred as Mad Jack, an ornery trader with an equally ornery mule. Mad Jack brought Adams news and supplies. Don Shanks played Nakoma, a Native American who also befriended Adams.

Charles E. Sellier, Jr. wrote a novel called The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams in 1972. Based very loosely on the life of mountain man James “Grizzly” Adams, the novel became a movie in 1974. When NBC aired the movie in 1976, it earned high ratings. The network then ordered a weekly TV series as a mid-season replacement.

Still from the opening credits of The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams Title Card (Season 2)
Copyright © 1977 Evergreen Programs, LLC

NBC aired 13 episodes of The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams between February and May 1977. A second season followed, with 24 episodes airing between September 1977 and May 1978. NBC cancelled the series but aired a special Christmas episode in December 1978. A made-for-TV movie called The Capture of Grizzly Adams wrapped up the saga of Grizzly Adams in February 1982.

I remember watching repeats on FX on Sunday mornings in the mid-to-late 1990s. Both seasons have been released on DVD, as has the follow-up telefilm. Sadly, the episodes on DVD are edited versions and the quality isn’t very good. The original 1974 movie has yet to make it to DVD. It is available on VHS, though.

Image of Dan Haggerty as Grizzly Adams from The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.

Dan Haggerty as Grizzly Adams
Copyright © 1977 Evergreen Programs, LLC

Recently, I finished watching the first season all the way through. I’ve yet to start the second season. Some of the episodes are more interesting than others. A few have been a slog to sit through. It’s often a slow show, with bursts of action every now and then.

Digital specialty network getTV began airing The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams on Super Bowl Sunday (February 5th). Currently, the show is scheduled to air Sundays from 9-10AM ET.


Do you remember watching The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams during its original NBC run from 1977 to 1978? Or did you stumble upon the show in local syndication? Hit the comments with your memories.

Support Television Obscurities! Buy The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams on DVD from Amazon.com using the following links: The Complete Series | Season 1 | Season 2 | The Capture of Grizzly Adams | Once Upon a Starry Night.


3 Comments

  • Karen Martin says:

    I watched Grizzly Adams when it was first broadcast, and I liked it.

    I suppose I considered it gentle escapism. Having lived out in the country until moving to a town with about a thousand residents I knew enough about the wilderness to know it was a dangerous place, and that you should never trust a “tamed” wild animal. Grizzly Adams was not a realistic show, but it was fun to watch.

    Sometimes when I get fed up with the real world I listen and watch the Grizzly Adams theme song on YouTube. A nice fantasy about how perfect it would be to go live with nature. I wouldn’t last a week if I had to fend for myself out in the middle of nowhere, but it is fun to play make believe…

    Happy anniversary to Grizzly Adams.

  • Patrick McNamara says:

    I was never interested in the show, although I liked the theme song. Maybe I was too young for it at the time.

    It’s essentially a western without the West. This was around the time of non-Western westerns such as The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie which concentrated on rural life. It may have had something to do with nostalgia from former military who grew up on farms but moved into cities after the war, or people in general who spent their childhood on farms and left as adults to find work in the city. Farm life was declining and the old ways of small farms were disappearing.

  • Bob says:

    I watched the second season of GRIZZLY and the last two movies when they originally aired on NBC. Along with PRAIRIE and it’s spin-offs and THE WALTONS.

    I think it would be very, very hard for me re-watching any of them today.

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