Actor Dan Haggerty of “Grizzly Adams” fame died early Friday of cancer, said his longtime friend and manager Terry Bomar. He was 73.Haggerty learned he had cancer of the spine in August and died at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Bomar said.Born Nov. 19, 1942, in Los Angeles, Haggerty was the son of an entertainment industry veteran. His parents wanted him to be a priest, but Haggerty proved a “wild child” who “went off track and became fast and furious,” Bomar said.As a young man he got a job with a ranch in the San Fernando Valley that trained animals for movies. He became an animal handler, wrangling rabbits and frogs for various film productions, and was a stuntman on the side.The combination of skills led to his discovery as an actor. He was working on a movie shoot in Canada, filming a scene that required him to chase a tiger across a frozen lake in an attempt to rope it, Bomar said.
Apparently, this proved a memorable escapade. A colleague on the set later tapped the bearded Haggerty for the role of the burly, amiable woodsman in the 1974 back-to-nature TV movie “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” and later the series of the same name. The family-programming hit premiered in 1977 and ran for 37 episodes and made Haggerty and his bushy beard famous.The role was a natural fit for Haggerty, who remained a rough-and-tumble free spirit, and who would have worn the beard regardless, Bomar said.
source:Los Angeles Times