Actor Dan Haggerty, who famously portrayed mountain man James “Grizzly” Adams in a 1974 film and television series, died on Friday morning at the age of 74. Haggerty’s manager Terry Bomar confirmed to the press that the actor passed away after a long fight with cancer.
“He had fought a long hard battle with cancer of the spine that was discovered in August of this year,” Bomar told Fox News. “He would light up any room he entered. He loved life, loved his family, loved his friends and fans. The last words I heard him say were ‘I love you.'”
Bomar, who spoke with Haggerty only a day before his death, said the actor was grateful for being able to spend one last Christmas with his friends and family. He is survived by five children. His wife, Samantha Haggerty, passed away in 2008 following a motorcycle accident.
Although he went on to do other things, Haggerty is perhaps best remembered today for his role as Grizzly Adams, the famous California hunter and bear trainer that rose to prominence in the middle of the 19th century. Much like Adams, Haggerty also spent much of his life around wild animals and helped raise a performing black bear for his family’s wildlife attraction in Wisconsin. His experience with animals led to a career with Walt Disney Studios, and eventually being cast in the title role for the independent film, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.
The 1974 film and the television series that followed were very popular despite their low budgets and spawned two sequels, which were released much later. The film was only loosely related to the real Grizzly Adams, who continued hunting and trapping until his death in 1860. Despite his love of bears, it was a bear mauling that caused the head injury that ultimately led to Adams’ deteriorating health.
Haggerty also appeared in episodes of Charlie’s Angels and The Love Boat as well. He has several appearences in films slated to be released later this year.