Although things have improved over the past couple of decades, Hollywood is filled with tales of young actors who have either been abused by the system, or, even worse, by the people who were supposed to be protecting them. Jay North, who achieved stardom at the age of seven as the star of the Classic TV series Dennis the Menace, is a prime example of this — and the scars run deep.
“I’m sick of Dennis the Menace,” Jay revealed some years ago on a television talk show appearance, which is featured on YouTube. “I hate Dennis the Menace, and I’m sorry I was ever associated with it.”
The show, which ran from 1959 to 1963, was based on the newspaper comic strip by Hank Ketchum. In it, Jay, who was born Aug. 3, 1951, in Hollywood, CA, played the title character of Dennis Mitchell, described as a good-natured kid who inadvertently finds himself in trouble pretty much all the time, particularly with next door neighbor George (“Good Old Mr. Wilson”) Wilson. Jay’s childhood was rough in the sense that his father was an alcoholic and his parents separated when he was four years old, which marked the last time he actually ever saw his father. His mother, Dorothy, was hired as a secretary to the West Coast branch of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, through which she actually got the then-six-year-old Jay a guest spot on a local LA children’s show, Cartoon Express. That appearance led to him being taken on by a talent agent and the start of his acting career.
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