(CNN) Dan Haggerty, who played mountain man Grizzly Adams in a hit movie followed by a TV show in the 1970s, has died. He was 74.
Haggerty died Friday morning in a Burbank, California, hospital surrounded by his family, said his manager, Terry Bomar. The actor had recently been battling cancer, said Bomar, who was friends with the star for nearly 20 years and had been his manager most of that time.
The actor started taking chemo last summer for a spinal tumor, Bomar said. Haggerty thought his condition was improving, but doctors later found a spot on his lung, he said.
“I talked to him yesterday and told him we’re praying for him,” Bomar said. “I told him ‘I love you, man.’ The last thing I heard him say was “I love you.’ ”
With his long hair, full beard and 6-foot-1 build, Haggerty seemed born to play Adams, who was based on a 19th-century frontiersman. The character was a wrongly accused man who saves and raises a grizzly bear cub. The bear becomes his constant companion as Adams travels the West, caring for wild animals he finds.
“The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” made for a low six-figure budget, became one of the biggest movie hits of 1974. Three years later NBC turned it into a TV show with the same name.
“The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” lasted two seasons, but the show’s unique subject and Haggerty’s rugged looks gave the star a name.
Haggerty said he got the job after another actor didn’t work out.
A producer saw him in a movie and asked his secretary — who happened to be Haggerty’s wife — if he was available.