Jay North .com

Hey, Mr. Wilson!
I Got Me A Website!

Jay North was born August 3, 1951 in Hollywood, California. He began his career as a child actor and is best known for his lead role in Dennis The Menace, a popular 1950s weekly half hour TV sitcom.

Based on the comic strip of the same name, the CBS-produced show also respected the input of the strip's creator Hank Ketcham, who personally chose North out of the many young actors auditioning for the role of the pint-sized troublemaker.

The show ended up running 146 episodes, which was fairly normal for several seasons back then in the late '50s and early '60s, but seems like an incredible amount compared to today's much easier production schedules.

It co-starred Herbert Anderson and Gloria Henry as his dad and mom, and Joseph Kearns as the long-suffering (thanks to Dennis) next door neighbor. Sylvia Field played Mrs. Wilson. Kearns was brilliant in the role, which, like North's, seemed almost created especially for the actor.

However, after the first few seasons, during hiatus from filming the show, Kearns died after being struck by a sudden heart attack. He was replaced by veteran comedy foil Gale Gordon, former costar of Our Miss Brooks, and future co-star of The Lucy Show.

Gordon did a fine job portraying Mr. Wilson's brother, and the series continued, but the cast agreed that things were just never quite the same after the passing of Kearns.

When Dennis The Menace finally went off the air, it was none too soon, of course, since series star North had started getting a bit too big in the britches (literally) to be able to convincingly play "little" Dennis any longer.

And so North would start appearing in several movies as a teen (such as Flipper) and also as a young adult (such as The Teacher).

But first he starred in one more TV series, with Sajid Khan, in the color adventure series Maya, which featured intrigue in India and its environs, ala Johnny Quest.

Yes, North had gone from riding Mr. Wilson to riding elephants!

He also guested on episodes of other TV shows, including The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and did voice work for animation hits like The Simpsons (as Dennis), and The Flintstones' spin-off called The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show.

(He played Bamm-Bamm, while All In The Family's Sally Struthers played Pebbles.)

However, North would be forever typecast in his most iconic role as "Dennis the Menace," much as the late George Reeves had become locked by the public into his incredibly popular Superman role.

Realizing this fact, North eventually put acting on the back-burner, even to the point of serving a hitch in the U.S. Navy during the mid-1970s.

Later on, North began feeling some strong religious leanings, which led to him joining the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints in 1978. After that he also served as a prison security guard in Florida.

Now retired almost completely from showbiz (except for rare cameos like his recent appearance in the David Spade comedy Dickie Roberts), North lives in Florida. (He must have really gotten to like the area, during his guard gig). It's heat is similar to California, but he runs into no typecasting problems whatsoever there.

Well, if you think about it, actually it was all his fault in the first place, for doing such a great job as Dennis!

Northerly Movie And TV Roles

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003)
Scout's Honor (TV movie) (1977)
Fred Flintstone and Friends (TV series) (1977)
The Teacher (1974)
Lassie (TV series) (1973)
The Flintstone Comedy Hour (TV series) (1972)
Bamm-Bamm Rubble (1972) (voice)
The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (TV series) (1971)
Here Comes the Grump (TV series) (1969)
Terry Dexter (1969-1971) (voice)
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (TV series) (1968)
Arabian Knights (TV series) (1968)
Maya (TV series) (1967)
Jericho (TV series) (1966)
My Three Sons (TV series) (1966)
Maya (1966)
The Lucy Show (TV series) (1966)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (TV series) (1965)
Zebra in the Kitchen (1965)
Wagon Train (TV series) (1964)
Dennis the Menace (TV series) (1959-1963)
General Hospital (TV series) (1963)
The Red Skelton Hour (TV series) (1960-1961)
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (TV series) (1960)
The Donna Reed Show (TV series) (1960)
The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor (TV series) (1959)
The Big Operator (1959)
The Miracle of the Hills (1959)
Sugarfoot (TV series) (1959)
Rescue 8 (TV series) (1959)
77 Sunset Strip (TV series) (1959)
Wanted: Dead or Alive (TV series) (1958)

Relevant Reading:

Former Child Stars:
The Story Of America's Least Wanted

By Joal Ryan (2000)

Both the first AND second complete seasons of the
Dennis The Menace TV series are coming out this spring! Wow-wee!

Jay North On The Internet Movie Data Base
Helping Former Child Actors: A Minor Consideration

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