Jim Fowler, the towering wildlife enthusiast who brought pumas, anacondas and birds of prey to prime-time television in the long-running “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” has died at his home in Connecticut. He was 89.
Fowler dangled from helicopters, swam side by side with sharks and squirmed from the tightening coils of a python as viewers across America watched him and his partner, Marlin Perkins, trudge across savannas and wade through tide pools in a quest to take viewers to places they’d probably never see with their own eyes.
To baby-boomer America, the program opened the gates to the animal kingdom and ushered in an era of animal-friendly programming, including “The Crocodile Hunter” and Animal Planet shows.
Fowler, who became known to millions more as a frequent guest on “The Merv Griffin Show” as well as “The Tonight Show,” first with with Johnny Carson and then with Jay Leno, died Wednesday. His son Mark, a filmmaker for the National Geographic Channel, told the Washington Post that the cause of Fowler’s death was complications from heart ailments.
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