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Dan Haggerty

Dan Haggerty
Dan Haggerty in 1978
Personal information
Birth dateNovember 19, 1941(age 74)
Place of birthPound, Wisconsin
Years active1959-
SpouseDiane Rooker (1959 1984)
Samantha (1984 2008)

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Dan Haggerty (born November 19, 1941, in Pound, Wisconsin) is an American actor, best known for the title role in The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.

Born Gene Jajonski, Haggerty grew up in a family that owned and operated a small wild animal attraction. There he helped raise wild animals, including a black bear that performed tricks. After high school, he moved to southern California to pursue acting. Early on, he was cast in small roles as a bodybuilder in both Muscle Beach Party and Girl Happy starring Elvis Presley. His ease with animals brought him work as an animal trainer and handler in films produced by Walt Disney Studios. Haggerty also worked as a stuntman on the television series Tarzan, and as set builder on various other projects.

Haggerty appeared briefly in David Carradine's film, Americana and provided a fighting dog for the production. In the film, he not only played the role of the dog's trainer but also assisted in set design and the restoration of a broken down carousel, which figured prominently in the film. He assisted in building the motorcycles featured in the film Easy Rider, and had a bit part as a "hippie" in that film, as well as stunt work and supporting roles in numerous low-budget biker films of the era. The role that brought him fame was of the outdoorsman Grizzly Adams in the independent film The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. The picture was a surprise hit and spun off into a popular TV series. He also starred in the 1989 film "Spirit of the Eagle".

His fame was fleeting, however, as a well-publicized drug arrest (supposedly for selling drugs to obtain money to treat his wife's cancer) and motorcycle crash slowed his acting career. During the late 1980s, Haggerty often appeared in direct-to-video productions, and by the early 1990s he had devoted most of his energies to the Studio City restaurant "Haggerty's Bistro" and marketing his own barbecue sauce.

Haggerty continued to work as both an actor and infomercial spokesman. One of his endorsements was for a fraudulent piece of medical equipment, the PAP-IMI. He had only been hired as a spokesperson and was found not to be part of the fraud itself.

Haggerty was the lead role in the movies - Repo Jake (1990), Elves (1990), Grizzly Mountain (1995), and Escape to Grizzly Mountain (2000). He was also featured as a character in Al Franken's novel, Why Not Me?.

Haggerty's wife of over 20 years, Samantha Haggerty, died after a motorcycle accident on August 10, 2008.

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