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.


Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


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38 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.

      • carolyn king

        June 15, 2015 at 7:54 PM

        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.

      • Andrew Godfrey

        June 15, 2015 at 8:17 PM

        Carolyn, Thank you for writing. Jay will be 64 in August.

  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 …

  4. M. Myers

    June 21, 2015 at 3:07 PM

    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

    • Andrew Godfrey

      June 21, 2015 at 3:10 PM

      I don’t have an answer about what it is like in India today, but any other readers with the answer are encouraged to comment.

  5. gilbertsoriano963

    July 5, 2015 at 1:02 AM

    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

    • Andrew Godfrey

      July 5, 2015 at 6:58 AM

      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.

      • gilbertsoriano963

        August 3, 2015 at 12:12 AM

        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

      • Amy

        August 9, 2015 at 11:55 AM

        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.

      • Andrew Godfrey

        August 9, 2015 at 4:35 PM

        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.

      • Pamela Carter

        January 15, 2017 at 12:21 PM

        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.

      • Andrew Godfrey

        January 15, 2017 at 2:37 PM

        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. Keyes

    July 17, 2015 at 1:44 PM

    The show was a hit then and now what a kid and a fine group of talant

    • Andrew Godfrey

      July 17, 2015 at 3:42 PM

      500 channels and none of them are showing Dennis the Menace….makes no sense.

      • Kpalmer

        October 20, 2015 at 10:17 AM

        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.

      • Andrew Godfrey

        October 20, 2015 at 10:36 AM

        Thanks for the info on Dennis the Menace and Antenna TV and Cozi. Wish we had those channels in our area.

  7. Andrew Godfrey

    August 3, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    Gilbert, I can understand why you like the show so much. It was one of my favorites and always will be…..just wish it was being shown down here in Louisiana where we live.

    • brandie

      August 4, 2015 at 11:42 PM

      You can buy it on dvd at walmart. Im watching it now.

  8. gilbertsoriano963

    August 6, 2015 at 12:32 AM

    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.

    • Andrew Godfrey

      August 6, 2015 at 10:18 AM

      Gilbert….Hope you find all the shows from all the seasons. This website says there were 146 episodes in all, and the last show was on network television 52 years ago. Hope you find all the episodes at the same store. Enjoy the shows!!

      • gilbertsoriano963

        August 23, 2015 at 10:56 AM

        hey andrew ah you have the whole episodes

      • Andrew Godfrey

        August 23, 2015 at 11:24 AM

        I don’t have any episodes, but wish I did.

      • gilbertsoriano963

        September 25, 2015 at 12:57 AM

        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.

      • gilbertsoriano963

        September 11, 2016 at 6:41 PM


  9. Ogg

    February 4, 2016 at 11:13 AM

    I watch him everyday on antenna tv!!

  10. Lisa Owen

    March 7, 2016 at 11:21 AM

    Loved the show as a kid, still watch it everyday at 47 years old…..

    • Andrew Godfrey

      March 7, 2016 at 9:26 PM

      Lisa, I never get tired of Dennis the Menace either. One of the great shows back then.

  11. Stacie

    March 12, 2016 at 9:24 PM

    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! 🙂

  12. Mike Piccirillo

    December 21, 2016 at 5:00 AM


    • Andrew Godfrey

      December 21, 2016 at 9:24 AM 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.

  13. Kenneth Jackson

    December 25, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    I am watching an episode now and just wondered about what ever happened to Jay ,it is Christmas today and it is about Christmas on the show too ,what memories.

    • Andrew Godfrey

      December 26, 2016 at 8:52 AM

      Jay is now 65 and hasn’t been in a movie since 2003 and on television since 1980. He was working with Florida Correctional System as of 2011.

  14. Cristobal pacheco

    December 25, 2016 at 11:16 AM

    Does jay receive residuals from the airing of the show today?

    • Andrew Godfrey

      December 26, 2016 at 8:40 AM

      I doubt if Jay North received residuals from the show. If he did it wouldn’t be too much, since the show is not being shown much anywhere.


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