Q & A: It’s About Time; Gene Edwards as Grizzly Adams

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

What was the name of the program that was about a Gemini capsule that went around the world so fast it went back to prehistoric times? It had a theme song that went like “Its about time, its about space.” Only a few programs showed before it was taken off the air. I’ve meet several people that remember this.

That would be CBS’s It’s About Time, a one season wonder that aired from 1966 to 1967. I’ve written an in-depth article about It’s About Time where you can read all about the show, watch video clips and listen to the theme song. You can find it here.

Greetings, I was raised with the notion that Gene Edwards – (formerly, Gene Jongenski)- my 3rd cousin was Grizzly Adams. I recently talked with Dan Haggerty, and Dan says that Gene was never in the movies. I am searching for the truth of this.

The short answer is, yes, Gene Edwards played Grizzly Adams in a movie called Grizzly Adams: The Legend Continues (also known as The Legend of Grizzly Adams). The long answer is decidedly more complex. According to the Internet Movie Database the very first person to portray Grizzly Adams was John Huston, who appeared as Grizzly in 1972’s The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (he also directed the film). Dan Haggerty would play Grizzly on the big screen in 1974 and on television from 1977 to 1978; he would reprise the role in a made-for-TV movie released in 1982.

So how does Gene Edwards fit into the picture? For starters, he was Haggerty’s stunt double during the production of The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. On May 12th, 1987 United Press International reported that actor Gene Edwards and Don Shanks were at the Cannes Film Festival in France promoting their new movie, The Legend of Grizzly Adams, which would hit theaters in the United States in August [1].

According to the UPI article, the film was produced by Shapiro Entertainment and had been filmed in Utah and Washington. Edwards stated that “I love the character and love to play it. It comes naturally because I was raised with animals on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, north of Green Bay” [2]. Shanks, who played Nakoma in the 1977-1978 series, explained the appeal of Grizzly Adams: “Kids don’t have heroes anymore unless it’s somebody who shoots somebody or wrecks a car. Adams is a good, wholesome hero and I think that’s what the public wants” [3].

The two wore their costumes and posed with a hired bear on the beach. Unfortunately, the bear was rather tame but apparently was willing to wear a Grizzly Adams t-shirt for the cameras. As if that wasn’t strange enough, The Advertiser (an Australian publication, I believe) reported two years later on May 18th, 1989 that because Dan Haggerty was on probation for drug related problems, a new television movie currently being filmed would instead start Gene Edwards, his stunt double. Titled Grizzly Adams, The Legend Lives On, the movie was said to be in production in Florida and would go on the air later that year [4].

Thus, it appears the earlier UPI article was wrong about why Gene Edwards and Don Shanks were at Cannes. They were promoting the idea for a new Grizzly Adams film rather than one that had already been completed. Supporting this is a June 29th article in The Orlando Sentinel reporting that Grizzly Adams – The Legend Lives On had been filmed in Arizona during May and was currently undergoing post-production in Florida [5]. It was the first movie for independent Bulls on the Run Productions Inc. and would be ready for review by distributors at the start of August. A sequel was already being planned, however, and there was talk of a television series.

On December 5th, the paper reported that Bulls on the Run was planning to team up with a Soviet production company, Paritet Films, to make a sequel, in a way, to Grizzly Adams – The Legend Lives On called Misha – The Lost Son of Grizzly Adams [6]. The plot of the movie would follow Misha, the son of Grizzly Adams and the daughter of a Russian sea captain, as he searches for his father in the United States. The sea captain, who didn’t approve of his daughter’s marriage, took her and Misha back to Russia.

To promote the new movie, Soviet Children’s Fund would gather 2,000 orphaned or handicapped children in two Soviet cities in front of a hundred journalists (half of which would fly in from the United States); a portion of profits from the movie would be donated to the charity [7]. But even as plans for Misha – The Lost Son of Grizzly Adams went forward, Grizzly Adams – The Legend Lives On had yet to be released. Quest Entertainment Co. bought the worldwide rights to that film in mid-December [8].

In May of 1990, Paritet Films and Washington Films Associates (its agent in the United State) sued producer Thomas Tedrow, a partner in Bulls on the Run, for lying about having created the character of Misha, which meant the money spent promoting the film was a wash [9]. Tedrow insisted he was responsible for creating Misha and had the documents to prove it. But Paritet cut him out of the proposed movie deal and hoped to proceed without him (Tedrow threatened to sue if they did) [10].

Misha – The Lost Son of Grizzly Adams was never made. And as far as I can tell, Grizzly Adams – The Legend Lives On was never released in theaters, instead going direct to video in 1990. If anyone can say otherwise, please let me know. I’ve written an article about The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams that you can read here.

Works Cited:

1 Herman, Arthur. “Bear flogs film.” United Press International. 12 May 1987: PM Cycle.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Cullen, Jenny. [No Title]. Advertiser. 18 May 1989: [Page Unknown].
5 Hinman, Catherine. “Grizzly Film Has Winter Park Ties.” Orlando Sentinel. 29 Jun. 1989: E.2.
6 Hinman, Catherine. “Grizzly Goes Hunting on Soviet Bear’s Turf.” Orlando Sentinel. 5 Dec. 1989: E.1.
7 Ibid.
8 Strother, Susan G. “Show Business.” Orlando Sentinel. 18 Dec. 1989: 22.
9 Quinn, Christopher. “Russians Sue Writer in Spat Over Movie.” Orlando Sentinel. 10 May 1990: B.1.
10 Quinn, Christopher. “Misha Is Alive, Ready for Filming, Producers Say.” Orlando Sentinel. 22 May 1990: B.1.

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27 Replies to “Q & A: It’s About Time; Gene Edwards as Grizzly Adams”

  1. “IT’S ABOUT TIME” was on CBS, ‘RGJ’, NOT “NBC” [“WALT DISNEY’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR” was among its competition on Sunday nights at 7:30pm(et)].

    1. Some of the people mentioned are thief’s. I was a friend of Gene. To bad about the whole thing. I have the video! Never made it to the movies.
      Gene and Dan Died a day apart! Wow

  2. Since asking the question about Gene Edwards, I have met and am in good re-pore with him. Since then have learned he was in other movies and acting for 17 years.
    He has been long-term rehabilitating from injuries suffered from years of stunt acting.
    Gene is presently working with another actor toward the producing of a future movie when he has sufficiently recovered his health.
    Gene is a wonderful big-hearted man with a keen sense of humor.

    1. Gene Edwards (nee: Jashinsky) passed away yesterday Dec 8, 2016 in Shawano , WI . He had been in poor health for the last 3 years and died peacefully with Unity Hospice by his side.
      Helen Jashinsky

      1. Thanks Helen, i’m so sorry for your loss, Gene was a great guy. I sent him an oil painting of him & his bear this spring. I hope it stays in your family. Gene gave his heart to the Lord Jesus back when we met and even though life’s been a struggle, i know he is happy and in perfect health now. God bless you, dee

      2. Helen. Sorry to hear of Genes passing. In the early 2000’s I was a driver manager at Celadon. Gene was one of my drivers. He took my husband an I backstage to meet the Oak Ridge Boys. I will always remember him fondly

      3. I’m sad to see this only today. Gene was always good to us. My kids Kristin and Bryan Dattilo (days of our lives) starred in the Legend of Grizzly Adams with Gene.

  3. Gene is living in Pound, Wisconsin. He had back and leg injuries incurred by the bear which mauled him iduring film production in Utah. I don’t know his present condition – – – – – –

      1. Hi, I would like to know if Gene is still alive and if so, if he’s still living in Pound, WI. I have a friend who knew him years ago and she would love to visit with him again if at all possible. Could you tell me how Gene got into the movie business? What would take a small town man into Hollywood? We would love to know more about his life. We thank you in advance for any information you can give us.


  4. This is just a shot in the dark. Michelle, do you know if a company called “Grizzly Productions” was involved with your uncles Legends of Grizzly Adams movie and, if so, who owned it? I’m trying to find out if the company is still around and if its owned by the same people as back in the 80s……

  5. I worked on the movie in Arizona, Bulls on the Run was the production company. Tom Tedrow and another guy “owned it”. They both lived in Florida, Tedrow in Winter Park. I also knew Gene and the group and have a copy of the movie somewhere that would probably have all the info.

    1. Julie,

      The writer of MISHA is Robert W. Morgan. He is now living in Pittsburgh. I’m his business partner, and we are working on a proposal to get MISHA to the big screen in the next few years. As you probably know, it’s a great family film.

      Jeff Stephan
      California Avenue Productions, LLC

  6. Dee, Is your Uncle Gene Still with us? I knew him Long ago when he worked at MOBY GRAPE in Las Vegas. If you are still in contact with him Frenchie, (sang desperado) to him>

    1. GENE EDWARDS, the former actor who portrayed Grizzly Adams is alive. He is in poor health. His real name is Gene Jashinsky from Pound WI. I graduated from high school with him in 1965.

    2. Dee? Me or someone else? Gene is my cousin, Yes, we talk but his health issues keep our conversations short. Would you like me to mention your name to Gene?☺

  7. I met Gene years ago when they had replaced Mr Haggerty. He was at an outdoor show at a booth . He was very cordial and we talked for several minutes about wildlife and his role as Grizzly Adams. I was a federal trapper at the time doing studies called best management practices. I was very impressed by him. He knew the role and had nothing but good things to say about Mr. Haggerty. We would have been lucky in my opinion to have had Mr. Jashimski he signed my photo as Gene Edwards. I am gonna look soon and try and locate that picture. I never forgot our few minutes talking and I pray God will help him through his present difficulties. Mark Slade Chatham Va.

  8. My sister and I met Gene at a offroad race in Lake Geneva wi. My sister and Gene had their picture taken together in 1980 . Did Gene ever have a pallet shop in Pound. I’m very sorry to here about his passing.

  9. You have listed that Gene Edwards and Don Shanks were at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987 to promote the movie Grizzly Adams. The movie was released in 1974. To my knowledge Don said they were there in the 70’s. The movie was reshot with Dan Haggerty.

    1. Different movie, Carol. This was a never-released updated version of Grizzly Adams intended to be released first in late 1986, then in late 1987. I find no evidence the film was ever completed.

  10. So, there were two different movies being referred to.
    Edwards and Shanks appeared numerous times from 1985-1993 to promote various Grizzly Adams revival projects. Edwards formed Grizzly Productions in an attempt to partner with a studio for distribution of a film or TV series starring he and Shanks. In 1986, the pair was to film ‘Grizzly and Grey Otter’s Wilderness Adventure,’ a movie originally intended to be released in late that year. The film was to be narrated by John Denver, star Clint Walker and former Oakland Raider quarterback Ken Stabler in addition to Edwards and Shanks and have music by John Denver and Mickey Gilley. Edwards, Shanks, and Gilley appeared at the 1987 ShoWest convention to drum up interest in the film. Reportedly Edwards had verbal interest from studios with deals to produce a new Grizzly Adams series, likely to take advantage of the late 80s boom in first run syndication. Edwards and Shanks also appeared at France’s Cannes film festival in May 1987 to promote said film, as you report, although UPI reports the different title of ‘The Legend of Grizzly Adams.’ They were evidently using different working titles for the film, of which the latter is obviously a better title; but it was definitely the same ‘Grizzly and Grey Otter’ film. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/108977570/gene-edwards-don-shanks-promote/

    In any event, while ‘Grizzly Adams’ was a historical figure allowing others to use that name, Shanks would appear as ‘Grey Otter,’ undoubtedly to differentiate the production from the earlier series, as the ‘Nakoma’ character would have been owned by Taft Entertainment, who acquired Sunn in 1980.
    However, I find no evidence said film was ever completed; the final mention of it was the month after Cannes when Edwards related production/filming delays due to the difficulties of directing and acting in the same production.
    Two years pass, and a completely different Grizzly Adams film began filming directed by Ken Kennedy, produced by the new Bulls On The Run production company. Filmed at Old Tuscon Studios in Arizona in May of 1989, the production featured the return of Bozo the bear as Ben, but Don Shanks and the other actors previously attached to the ‘Grizzly and Grey Otter’ film did not appear in it. A planned trilogy of films and/or revival series never materialized due at least in part to the ‘Misha’ debacle you chronicle here. Unable to secure theatrical distribution, the film quietly released on home video in Canada and later on US cable and home video.

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