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August 16, 2020

'Dennis the Menace' Star Jay North's Life after Nationwide Fame

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Jay North shot to fame playing the titular character on the hit sitcom "Dennis the Menace." Let us take a look at what happened to him after he retired from show business.

Jay North was born in 1951. He was first seen on television in 1958 and moved excitedly to minor filming the following year.

The former child actor became a household name when acclaimed writer Hank Ketcham chose him to play the star-making title role on the 1959 CBS sitcom "Dennis the Menace." 

Publicity photo of Jay North promoting his starring role on the series "Dennis the Menace," circa 1960s. | Photo: CBS Television / Public domain

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North appeared on the hit television series in 146 episodes over a four-year period. He also appeared in several variety programs during this television peak.

That includes "My Three Sons" (1960) and "The Lucy Show" (1962). However, he noticed a significant tapering off after the cancellation of "Dennis the Menace." 

North ended up being typecast. The endeavors to move forward with film ventures and different series work proved tough.

Publicity photo of Jay North promoting his starring role on the television series "Maya" | Photo: NBC Television Network / Public domain

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Things seemed assuring at first. He preserved his wholesome image with the family film "Zebra in the Kitchen" (1965) and the adventure "Maya" (1966), but then all offers dried up.

In just a few short years, North went from top child star to has-been teenager. That reality had a profound effect on his personality.

According to him, his aunt would hurt him whenever she did not like his performance in a scene.

Gale Gordon and Jay North from the television program "Dennis the Menace," circa 1960s. | Photo: CBS Television / Public domain

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North experienced years of personal turmoil and emotional anguish, including drug experimentation, before his recovery.

In an interview, he revealed that during childhood, he was physically and emotionally abused, particularly during his time on "Dennis the Menace."

Jay North at the Every Picture Tells A Story art gallery in 1999. | Photo: Getty Images

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North said his aunt and uncle were abusing him. The two became his caretakers on set because his mother had a full-time job and was unavailable during the day.

According to him, his aunt would hurt him whenever she did not like his performance in a scene. He explained, "If it took me more than one or two takes, I would be threatened and then whacked."

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North said he does not like to watch any reruns or remakes of the series because it brings back a lot of terrible recollections. After leaving Hollywood, he discovered meaning in family and a different vocation.

Despite the fact that he has kept the greater part of his grown-up life private, North said in a 1999 interview that he was going to write his autobiography. And after that, he said he was going to live a happy life in Lake Butler with his loved ones. 

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