EXCLUSIVE: The film, TV, merchandising, licensing and novelization rights for Grizzly Adams, the iconic California mountain man who launched a 1970s film and subsequent NBC television series that starred Dan Haggarty, is now on the block. Part Jeremiah Johnson and part Wild Animal Whisperer, Adams was a Boston-educated man with an impressive lineage who moved west to search for gold and became a hunter/tracker. He ended up becoming a conservationist who lived with grizzly bears and befriended the Miwok Indians.
The various rights of the highly recognizable franchise, which is timed to take advantage of the age of the Lumbersexual (the popular bearded lumber woodsman look of today’s hipsters) has been made available by franchise rights owner Tod Swindell.
“Grizzly”Adams’ real name was John Adams and he was the lineage of President John Quincy Adams and American Revolutionary patriot Samuel Adams. From a young age, Adams realized a talent for taming wild animals. Out in the California wild, he began rescuing wounded animals and nurturing them back to health and hence, a strong bond was formed.
One of his bear cubs named Ben (who would become his constant companion) would later save Adams’ life. His first bear cub was named Lady Washington. In freezing temperatures, that bear would also end up saving his life again. They both eventually carried his bags on their backs and he actually rode them. His family of bears became a local oddity when they would come down from the Sierra Nevada mountains and walk the San Francisco city streets in the mid-1800s.
Eventually, Adams would come to town not only with his bears but also a growing number of other wild animals in his “family” — about 60 in all and they would take over Market street. It wasn’t long before he caught the attention of PT Barnum was asked to become part of his traveling circus. He then emerged as a popular showman and became nationally known. After being tapped by Barnum, Adams returned to the mountains and hired Native Americans to work with him.
One of his famous bears — Samson — was the model for the bear in the California State Flag after he was painted by artist Charles Nahl.
Adam’s death came from a head wound suffered at the hand of a mother Grizzly bear who attacked him. His bear Ben saved his life, warding off the big grizzly, but Adams’ head wound was later re-opened while wrestling with one of his family of bears. He died at the age of 48, two weeks before Abraham Lincoln was elected president.
The rights to Grizzly Adams are being repped by Bill Jacobson of Jacobson, Russell, Saltz, Nassim & DeLatorre and Louis Tedesco who recently set up The Forever War with Roy Lee and Richard Edlund at Warner Bros. with Channing Tatum attached to produce and star.