As Dennis the Menace celebrates its 60th anniversary, Antenna TV has embarked on a marathon of all 146 episodes of the Classic TV series (which originally ran from 1959 to 1963), concluding with “Dennis Goes to the Movies” at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday December 1. Based on the newspaper comic strip by Hank Ketchum, the series stars Jay North, who was born August 3, 1951 in Hollywood, as title character 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.
The show remains as much of a delight to watch now as it was when it originally aired, although, sadly, its making was anything but delightful for Jay. While things have improved over the past couple of decades, Hollywood history 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 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.”
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.
For much more on Jay North, please scroll down.
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