The cast of talented actors that brought the Dennis the Menace comics to life in the 1959 series have never been forgotten. The sitcom’s lead, Jay North, was joined by Herbert Anderson, Gloria Henry, Sylvia Field and Joseph Kearns in the laughter-inducing episodes that earned millions of viewers during CBS’ Sunday lineup. Still to this day, fans of the series have wondered about the mystery surrounding Kearns’ character Mr. Wilson, who did not appear in the show’s final episodes.
Who Was Joseph Kearns?
Kearns was born in Salt Lake City on February 12, 1907. During his childhood, he performed with a touring vaudeville group before landing a job at a local radio station. After gaining prominence on the radio as one of the most recognizable voices of the ‘40s, Kearns landed a role in 1951’s Hard, Fast and Beautiful.
Disney fanatics might know Kearns best from his role as the Doorknob in Alice in Wonderland. His other acting appearances included The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, I Married Joan, Professional Father, Our Miss Brooks and more.
What Happened to Joseph Kearns?
In 1959, Kearns made his debut as Mr. Wilson, Dennis’ grouchy neighbor, in Dennis the Menace. The season 3 episode of the series titled “Where There’s a Will” saw Mr. Wilson leave Dennis a gold watch in his will after celebrating his birthday.
Six days after the episode aired, Kearns died at age 55 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. His costars were devastated by the news of his sudden passing.
“We loved Joe,” Henry told Closer in April 2017. “Underneath the old grump was a sweet, kind old man.”
Gale Gordon was cast as Mr. Wilson’s brother in an attempt to fill the void that Kearns’ death left on the show. His character’s absence from the series was heavily felt but was explained as him simply moving away with his wife and purchasing a new home.
After four seasons, Dennis the Menace aired its final episode in July 1963. Leaving the character of Dennis Mitchell behind was quite a relief for North.
“I still don’t think it was a great show,” North admitted in 1993. “But it did bring joy to a lot of people. I’m happy about that. But I’m finally starting a new life and burying Dennis Mitchell.”
Did Joseph Kearns Have Kids?
Kearns was not married and did not have any children at the time of his death.