There really was a man known as Grizzly Adams! He really had a bear friend named Ben. And, yes, the television show “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” was based on his life, although loosely.
Grizzly Adams’s real name was James Capen Adams. He was originally from Massachusetts, but went West in search of making his fortune. At first, Adams thought he would profit by moving to St. Louis and selling shoes to travelers headed to the California gold rush. But, misfortune struck and Adams’ entire $6,000 shoe inventory burned in a fire. Undaunted, Adams decided to venture further west and moved to California. However, instead of becoming a gold miner he became a Mountain Man.
James Adams was no ordinary Mountain Man. He had an amazing ability to capture and train bears, that is, grizzly bears, some of the biggest, most ferocious animals you could ever encounter in the wild.
This innate talent eventually led to James Adams becoming famously known as “Grizzly Adams.” One of his constant companions was a bear named Ben that he named after one of the United States Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin.
Grizzly Adams was a very colorful character and his life in the mountains with animals became legendary. A writer named Theodore Hittel befriended Grizzly Adams and began writing down his first-hand accounts of his amazing life in the mountains with wild animals. These stories were published in a book aptly named “The Adventures of James Capen Adams: Mountaineer and Grizzly Bear Hunter of California.”
Years later, in 1974, a movie was made about the historic Grizzly Adams. The movie “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” starring Dan Haggerty, was a huge box office success. Sensing that audiences were eager to see more Grizzly Adams stories, the producers decided to make a television show about him. They chose the star of the movie, Dan Haggerty, to play the same role in the television series and named it “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. “ The show aired on NBC for two seasons from 1977 to 1978.
In the “Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” television show, two human friends were added to Grizzly Adams’s life – an old trader named Mad Jack and a Native American name Nakoma. In the TV show, Grizzly Adams is a trapper who has fled to live in the mountains because he has been wrongly accused of a crime.
Grizzly Adams fleeing to the mountains to escape the law was a Hollywood-created storyline for the television series. What wasn’t Hollywood-created, though, was Grizzly Adams’s special connection to animals and his desire to live in the wilds. From all accounts of his adventurous life, the wild mountain life fit him well.
Both seasons of “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” television series are available for purchase on DVD. If you are interested in purchasing this series, there are details below.
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams Season One
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams Season Two DVD