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Whatever Became Of: Jay North of “Dennis the Menace”?

29 Jun

Jay North was eight years old, when he appeared in Dennis the Menace from 1959-1963. The show left the air 49 years ago and North will be 61 in August.

26 years have passed since his last acting role in 1986.

His first television appearance was in Wanted: Dead or Alive in 1957.

North played the mischievous Dennis Mitchell on Dennis the Menace and character actor Joseph Kearns was perfectly cast as the first Mr. Wilson.

Joseph Kearns was perfectly cast as Mr. Wilson, the next door neighbor of the Mitchell family and was a perfect foil for the antics of Dennis.

Jay North seen less than a year ago at the age of 60 and you can still see the resemblance to a young Jay North.

Jay North was only four, when his father left home and never saw him again. His mother, Dorothy North was contacted by an agent, who thought her son would be marketable, in the entertainement industry. She knew about the stories of child actors, who had troubled lives, so was wary but signed the contract.

Hundreds of boys tried out for the part of Dennis Mitchell on Dennis the Menace, but North won the role and would be forever known as Dennis the Menace. He won the part and was paid $500 an episode, which was far less than what actors make today per episode. His mother was not a typical stage mother, since she continued to work and live off her earnings. North makes it clear that his mother did not live off of his earnings.

Even more, Mrs. North didn’t hang around the stage, leaving that up to her sister and husband, as they were there for Dennis. His salary escalated to $2,500 an episode in 1961.

Aunt Abused Him On Set

His Aunt Marie was cruel to Dennis on the set, physically and verbally abusing him, when me made mistakes. He lived in a state of fear on the set, smiling to mask his true feelings. His mother nor the rest of the cast knew how his aunt was treating him.

It is surprising that he didn’t tell his mother how his aunt was treating him, but at his age he was probably afraid of repercussions, from the aunt for disclosing what was really going on.

North earned $3,500 an episode during the fourth and last season. The pressure he was going through backstage, because of his aunt and the loss of Joseph Kearns turned North into a very serious kid. He was thankful the show ended, so he could get away from the backstage tension..

Typecast As Dennis Mitchell

North struggled to find acting jobs. He did secure one last starring role in The Teacher in 1974, which was an R-rated movie, that was as far removed from his role as Dennis Mitchell as possible. North finally tired of waiting for acting roles to come his way, joined the U.S. Navy in 1977. However that didn’t go well, since his shipmates taunted him about being a child star and he was honorably discharged in 1979.

1986 would be the last year that North would be seen on film, when he appeared in a Yugoslavian movie, which ended his film career 23 years after his last appearance on Dennis the Menace.

His personal life wasn’t going well with two marriages which lasted less than a year, but he married Cindy Hackney in 1993 and they are still married 19 years later. They are reportedly well off due to his mother’s investments of his earnings while he was a child actor.

North was working in health food industry for a few years and has worked as a juvenile correctional officer in Florida.

He has been through a lot over the years, but seems to be at peace now, after receiving much support from Paul Petersen, former child actor from the Donna Reed Show, who started an organization that assists child actors, who need some support from former child actors.

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5 Comments

Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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5 responses to “Whatever Became Of: Jay North of “Dennis the Menace”?

  1. seakist

    June 29, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    I love at happy ending! :)

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      June 29, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      I love happy endings too. His support group around him protected him from suffering the fate of Rusty Hamer, who was on Make Room For Daddy.

       
  2. Judy

    April 16, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    I watch the series all the time, in fact I’m watching now
    I grew up with Dennis in the 50s … Sad to hear the
    Aweful things that occurred ..

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      April 16, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      It was sad writing about the abuse he received, while being a child star. He is another reason Paul Petersen started his crusade for the rights of child stars.

       
  3. Robin

    May 18, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    Jay North starred in a TV series called “Maya” based on a movie he starred in of the same name. (1967–1968) His co-star was Sajid Kahn, another teen actor. Good show and North was still as good looking as ever.

    Sajid Khan and Jay North in Maya …

     

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