Inside the last words of Dan Haggerty AKA Grizzly Adams and why he had to pull the plug on his wife of 20+ years

Known for his iconic portrayal of Grizzly Adams, Dan Haggerty’s last moments encapsulated a lifetime of experiences in the entertainment industry and beyond.

With humility and grace, he bid farewell to loved ones, leaving behind a legacy of warmth, kindness, and cinematic magic that will endure for generations to come.

Continue reading to discover his final words to his closest friend – and why he was forced to pull the plug on his beloved wife…

If you remember the show Grizzly Adams … you’re old! Oh, the nostalgia! This was long before cable, before computers, before cell phones.

And of course, the series would never have been the same without Dan Haggerty – he seemed so natural portraying the character role.


I think the show resonated so well with people, because the character of Grizzly Adams was a manifestation of who Dan really was. Reading about him today, there are so many heartwarming stories from other actors, to crew members to fans. He was a kind, gentle, and jovial soul.

But let’s start from the beginning and take a look at how this iconic actor came to be the Grizzly Man, captivating an entire generation.

Dan Haggerty’s parents wanted him to become a priest, but that proved easier said than done. Born in 1942 in Los Angeles, he was already a ”wild child” from a young age. According to his best friend Terry Bomar, he went off track and became ”fast and furious.”

Early in life, Haggerty – who was born Gene Jajonski – developed a love for animals and began working on a ranch in the San Fernando Valley. There, he assisted in training animals for various films, caring for a variety of creatures.

Actor Dan Haggerty poses for a portrait in circa 1950. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In addition, Haggerty was a formidable powerhouse. He delved into bodybuilding during his teenage years and possessed an impressive physique, which naturally landed him job as a stuntman. He also worked as a set builder and furniture maker on several shows. This blend of skills would become invaluable later in life.

Gradually, he began working as an actor in low-budget films. His experience with animals also brought him work as an animal trainer and handler in films produced by Walt Disney Studios. Haggerty directed white tigers, wolverines, eagles, and wild boars in the 1974 feature film When the North Wind Blows. While shooting the movie, the wild-haired Haggerty was forced to chase a tiger across a frozen lake – an event that garnered significant attention among everyone on set.

One of the colleagues couldn’t forget this incident and therefore suggested that Haggerty would be perfect in the upcoming film The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. The burly, amiable woodsman made a great impression and the low budget indie film was a success. Therefore, NBC wanted more.

A series was created, which aired from 1977 to 1978. It was a show with a clear concepts about nature. Haggerty starred as James Capen ”Grizzly” Adams and his connection with animals was truly magical. The role was a natural fit for Haggerty, and the series ran for 37 episodes, catapulting him to fame.

After the ending of the series, Haggerty starred in a 1982 TV movie titled The Capture of Grizzly Adams. However, his career faced a significant setback in 1984 when he was arrested for cocaine possession, leading to a 90-day jail sentence.

The actor was caught selling drugs to an undercover police officer, who was part of a task force targeting prominent figures in the entertainment scene in Los Angeles.

A few months later, Haggerty nearly killed himself in a motorcycle accident. While hospitalized, he was once again convicted in court, this time for failing to pay taxes.Fortunately, he managed to bounce back fairly quickly, and it appeared that his court-mandated community service prompted him to reconsider his choices.

”I’m trying to give back to the system. The system’s been good to me,” he told Los Angeles Times in 1987.

Dan Haggerty was an enterprising man. Already in the 1960s, he opened a leather shop in Los Angeles called “Cornucopia.” He also created a Cajun barbecue sauce that sold well in the California area. Overall, Haggerty had a genuine passion for food. He began cooking his own meals at the age of 17, shortly after getting married.

”I had to do it to survive,” he quipped.


In 1975, the actor moved to southern France for a brief period to film the movie “The Christmas Tree.” There, he developed a keen interest in food and befriended many local chefs. He took lessons at the Cordon Bleu School and learned the craft from the ground up.

In the early 1990s, he decided to open his own restaurant, Haggerty’s Bistro.

Located in Studio City, just over the hill from the Hollywood bustle, the French-inspired restaurant served a variety of dishes, including Haggerty’s famous “Log Sandwich” – sirloin steak sliced very thin, provolone cheese, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and Italian spices served in a fresh Italian roll.

The restaurant was operated by Haggerty’s wife, his brother Jim, and his eldest daughter Tracey. Haggerty’s primary focus remained on his acting career. He reprised his Grizzly Adams character in several TV series and made guest appearances on Charlie’s Angels and The Love Boat.

In 1991, he was involved in another motorcycle accident and crushed several bones in his body. Rumors circulated that he had died, but fortunately, that was not the case.

Pulled the plug on his wife

In the TV series that made him famous, Dan Haggerty portrayed a character who lived a solitary life and was accustomed to fending for himself. But the producers actually toyed with the idea of creating a wife for him.

In an interview, Haggerty revealed how the network conducted a poll among the audience to determine whether they wanted his character to have a romantic interest, and the audience voted against it. The reason the audience didn’t want him to have a wife or family seemed to stem from idolizing him as a monk or priest figure, someone who would take care of anyone and everyone he came across.

In real life, Haggerty tied the knot twice. His first marriage was to Diane Rooker in 1959. The couple exchanged vows in Las Vegas when they were both 17 years old.

Dan Haggerty kissing his wife Diane, at a People’s Choice Awards, Chasen’s, Hollywood, February 1978. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Dan and Diane attended school in the same Los Angeles suburb. Their paths crossed when Diane was crowned homecoming queen and Dan stood out as a star football player at a rival school.

No one believed their relationship would last long, but the doubters were proven wrong. Together, they raised two daughters, Tracey and Tammy. The couple lived in the Malibu mountains together with their kids – and lions, wolves and eagles.

In 1984, Dan and Diane divorced.

That same year, Haggerty found love again and married Samantha Hilton. Their union resulted in two sons, Dylan and Cody, and a daughter, Megan.

The couple remained happily married until tragedy struck the family. During a motorcycle ride in 2008, Samantha Hilton crashed with a deer.

Samantha was on her way home from a dinner and was not wearing a helmet, according to the Globe. The accident was described as a freak accident, and the then 53-year-old Samantha was airlifted to the hospital.

Dan Haggerty, wife Samantha, son Dylan, daughter Megan and son Cody attend the 60th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on December 1, 1991 at the KTLA Studios in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Unfortunately, there was nothing the doctors could do. Dan Haggerty learned about the accident while he was out playing golf in Florida. His pregnant daughter called and told him the terrible news, and Haggerty flew home immediately to be by his wife’s side. Sadly, Samantha suffered severe brain damage, and the doctors told Haggerty that she was gone.

He had to pull the plug; there was nothing more to be done.

”It was the hardest, most heartbreaking decision I’ve ever had to make, to tell the doctors to let my beautiful Sam slip away into her long sleep. I wept like a child.”

Cancer diagnosis

In August 2015, Haggerty received more devastating news: he was diagnosed with spinal cancer following the discovery of a tumor during back surgery.

The news shook him and his loved ones to the core. Despite putting up a brave fight, the cancer ultimately claimed his life on January 15, 2016, in Burbank, California. He continued working right up until his passing; his Internet Movie Database page indicates that he had three films in post-production in 2016.

Paul Harris/Getty Images

Haggerty’s passing left a profound void in the hearts of many, as his legacy as Grizzly Adams and his vibrant presence in the entertainment industry will forever be cherished and remembered.

”He wasn’t a choirboy by any stretch of the imagination. He was a pirate! He would light up any room he walked into – he had infectious laughter,” his longtime friend, Terry Bomar, said.

Final words

Their final conversation together became an emotional one.

”He had a great Thanksgiving, he had a great Christmas and a decent New Year, and then he took a turn for the worse,” Bomar told USA Today in 2016. ”I talked to him yesterday morning, they put on the speaker phone, I told him I loved him, and the last words I heard him say was ‘I love you.’”

Dan Haggerty was an icon to many generations; we really loved him as Grizzly Adams. RIP kind sir, we will never forget you!



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