Dan Haggerty is an American actor, best known for the title role in The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.
He was born in Hollywood, growing up amid the Southern California bodybuilding lifestyle. Online biographies and newspapers suggest that he was born Gene Jajonski in Pound, WI. He had early roles in Muscle Beach Party and the Elvis Presley film Girl Happy. His ease in working with animals got him work as a trainer and handler for Walt Disney films, and he found work as a stuntman on the Ron Ely’s TV show Tarzan.
Haggerty was a free spirit, living in the Malibu Canyons with his animals while making his own furniture and clothing. He also worked as a set builder on films. He appeared briefly in David Carradine’s film, Americana. He provided a fighting dog for the film, played the role of the dog’s trainer and worked on the set design and the actual restoration of the main focus of the film, a broken down carousel.He worked on the motorcycles featured in the film Easy Rider, and had a bit part as a “hippie” in the movie. He showed up in several low-budget biker films of the era as both a supporting player and stuntman before being tapped to play the outdoorsman 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 that made Haggerty a household name. He also starred in the 1989 film “Spirit of the Eagle”.
His fame was fleeting, however, as a well-publicized drug arrest and motorcycle crash kept him from work. He appeared often during the late 1980s in the direct-to-video boom, but by the early 1990s devoted his energies to the Studio City restaurant “Haggerty’s Bistro” and marketing his own barbecue sauce. He continued to work as both an actor and infomercial spokesman.