[An earlier version of this text incorrectly stated that Dan Haggerty was born Gene Jajonski.]
The actor best known as Dan Haggerty started his career as a Malibu hippie, working as a stunt man and animal trainer who also appeared in bit parts in beach party movies and biker flicks. He also worked on the motorcycles used in “Easy Rider.” But his real fame came when he was cast in the 1974 low budget indie film, “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.”
The movie, based on a 1972 novel about a frontiersman going to live in the wilderness after being wrongfully accused of murder and befriending an orphaned bear cub in the process, was a huge success and inspired a short-lived NBC TV series. Haggerty starred in both seasons of the series, which aired from 1977-78.
After the series ended, Haggerty starred in a 1982 TV movie, “The Capture of Grizzly Adams,” but his career suffered a major setback in 1984 when he was arrested for cocaine possession and served 90 days in jail.
After his release, Haggerty began to appear in a series of direct-to-video horror movies. He starred in and produced the 1989 horror film, “Elves.” (Tagline: They don’t work for Santa anymore!)
In 1991, he opened his restaurant, Haggerty’s Bistro in Studio City and began to market his own brand of barbecue sauce. He’s also served as an infomercial pitchman for hair transplants, among other products.
In 1991, Haggerty spent time in a coma following a motorcycle crash. In 2008, Haggerty’s wife, Samantha, died after another motorcycle crash. The couple had three children.