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

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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Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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

      1. I love the happy endings too. I’m relieved his mother was a wonderful woman. Not some monster like his aunt sounds. Thank you for the comforting details. I wish things stay happy for him and his wife.

  1. 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 ..

  2. 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 …

  3. I was born the same year some well known celebrites were,like kurt russell, jay north, tim allen, etc, though I am more into music piano and sax old style jazz, not acid rock or related. I do not know Mr. North personally, but I did write to him at this Lake Butler, Fla.address but he did not answer, which is ok with me. I asked him what kind of music he likes, how his family is doing, of course I know about the problems he had as a child actor. He is pretty good in the movie Maya. So I would like to know if India even looks like it did when maya was filmed or is it full of shopping malls, multiplexes like alot of cities? Thanks for an answer

  4. i do not never chenge my actor jay north dennis the menace for no body also jay north you are the best actor of dennis the manace i love all your tv series and i still watch it every single day

    1. I agree Jay North was a great actor who was perfectly cast as Dennis the Menace. Sad that the show is not being shown on television today, as far as I know and it is a shame.

      1. hi thank you for your reply oh yes he was and i still watching his shows even now i love it i love him specially when he make mr wilsom very mad and thank very mach for your kind comment

      2. It is on Hulu and my family and I watch it all the time. My 9 year old son gets a big kick out of it and I love the wholesomeness.

      3. Wish Netflix would show Dennis the Menace, instead of all the new shows produced by Netflix. I still would rather see the old shows, than their new stuff they produce.

      4. Dennis the Menace is shown on a Toledo Ohio TV station at least on Sunday mornings at 11a. I grew up watching the show, as I was born in the late 50s. Comic strip, too.

      5. Hi Pamela, Thank you for the information about Dennis the Menace. Good to know Dennis the Menace can be seen in Toledo, and hope Dennis the Menace fans in that area will take advantage of having the show on television there.

      6. Buy a comcast, it connect to you TV , you can watch any old shows or movies. I am watching Dennis the menaces right now. LOVE IT.

      7. Yes, 11:00am EST on “Antenna TV” … What memories, laughs and wishing the World was ‘in that time and place’ now. I loved Mr n Mrs Wilson. So did Dennis.

      1. Dennis the Menace is on every morning from 9:00 am to 10:00am on AntennaTV, which we get on a digital channel via the new digital antenna. MeTV & ThisTV are also on the digital channels & airs all the “oldie goldies”. I love the older shows. We use something called ClearTV, which works great on all the local digital channels. Dennis is on Fox’s 20.2 WCOV in our area. A network called Cozi is on our satellite (Directv) and has shows like, Columbo, McMillan & Wife, Perry Mason, McCloud, Banacek, etc.

  5. hi andrew thank you very mach for your kind reply i want to buy the whole set of the show but i just have to go to walmart or best buy and get it because we can only watch so mach in the youtube oh by the way i like your pic i live in san diego ca.

      1. hello andrew how are you what is going on there is everything ok with you there

        Gilbert, My wife had emergency abdominal surgery in a Houston hospital, so she has been in hospital for last 17 days. We finally arrived home yesterday. I only had Kindle with me, so didn’t do much posting of any kind.

        I got to see some Dennis the Menace shows while wife was in hospital, since hospital had Antenna TV.

  6. Glad to know he’s doing well. Also glad to know his mother wasn’t abusive, did love him, didn’t live off him and put his money in a trust for him to live off later. She was truly a good mother to Jay. I’m so sorry that her own sister would betray her and Jay that way. Glad God allowed Jay to still turn out normal and finally be able to find peace and happiness in his life. He does not look anywhere near 60 years old and is still handsome as ever. God bless Jay! 🙂

    1. IMDB.com shows Jay North was in 146 episodes of Dennis the Menace, so that must be the total number of shows, since I can’t imagine a show without Dennis the Menace in it. The show ran from 1959-1963. Hard to believe that 57 years have passed since the first Dennis the Menace show.

  7. I am 75 retired trucker and former lic ref for pro wrestling. I watch everyday. Now love the show. Makes me happy god bless all in show

      1. Andrew, my half-brother was telling me he went to school with Jay North back in L.A. area and would like to reconnect. I understand Jay now lives in Florida and so does my brother. Do you have any contact info? You can email me privately if need be.
        Bret
        Bret@Brethampton.com

  8. i met jay at hershey hotel in the early 60’s and got his autograph. i remember asking him if he play and his aunt saying no. she then grabed him and took him inside. i hope he got over being abused by her. wish i could meet him again’

  9. Hi! Though I loved the show as a kid, at 69, i’m happy to say that I have NEVER outgrown it. My parents also divoced; Jim Anderson of Father Knows Best, became my father. The shows of yesteryear were much better in some aspecs. The lack of filial piety on today’s shows is VERY SAD!!! If i EVER spoke to my mother the way the kids on today’s shows do, I would have been slapped into next week!!! I’m happy to learn that Jay is enjoying his life! I’m certain he has long since forgiven his Aunt Marie. We can NEVER escape our karmic recompense!!! She will, if she has not already, reap what she has sown! We must repent for her. The incredible spirit that gives our physical bodies life, comes from Our Creator which is why WE ARE ONE!!! It’s only our human minds that makes us think we are separate. Thank you, Andrew for your continued work on your posts. I hope you don’t edit my post.

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