Cast Bios  scroll down to view Jay North, Joseph Kearns, Herbert Anderson, Gloria Henry, Gale Gordon, Sylvia Field, Sara Seegar, Jeannie Russell, and Billy Booth biographies.

 JAY NORTH

born August 3, 1951 in Hollywood

     Jay North’s first professional acting job was a live appearance on the game show Queen for a Day, hosted by Jack Bailey. He continued to land work as a child model and actor in television commercials, as well as landing small parts on a number of popular NBC variety shows of the 1950s, such as The George Gobel Show, The Eddie Fisher Show and The Milton Berle Show, before auditioning for the role that would eventually make him a star.

     In June 1958, Columbia Pictures’ television division, Screen Gems, was holding a nationwide search for a boy to play the title character in their television adaptation of the popular Dennis the Menace comic strip, and six-year-old North was brought in to audition. After receiving news that his first audition had not gone well, agent Hazel MacMillan pressed the studio to see him again. The studio agreed, and was impressed with his second audition. After seeing 500 boys for the role, North was asked back to screen test with Herbert Anderson, Gloria Henry, and Joseph Kearns, and a pilot was filmed later that summer.

​     The summer passed and North heard nothing more from Screen Gems, but continued to work, appearing on an episode of the show Wanted: Dead or Alive, where he played a young boy who pays a bounty hunter (played by Steve McQueen) eight cents to find Santa Claus. Over the next several months, North continued to make television appearances on such shows as 77 Sunset Strip, Rescue 8, Cheyenne, Bronco, Colt .45, and Sugarfoot, as well as breaking into feature films with roles in The Miracle of the Hills and The Big Operator until, in the spring of 1959, almost a year after he’d first auditioned, MacMillan contacted North’s mother to tell her young North had been chosen to play the title role.

     Dennis the Menace premiered on CBS on Sunday October 4, 1959 and quickly became a hit with audiences. North was paid $500 per episode, his strawberry red hair was bleached platinum blonde for the role, and the 8-year-old was instructed to “shave” a year off his age when speaking with the press. North’s mother continued to work at AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) full-time to support the two of them, and hired business managers to invest North’s earnings for him.

     In addition to filming the series, North appeared as Dennis in commercials for the show’s sponsors, Kellogg’s cereals, Best Foods mayonnaise, Skippy peanut butter, and Bosco chocolate milk flavoring. He regularly traveled around the country with his aunt and uncle on the weekends to promote the show.

     In the fall of 1960, the second season of the series was ranked among TV’s top 20 shows, and North’s portrayal of Dennis had become a beloved pop culture icon. North made crossover guest appearances as Dennis on such television shows as The Donna Reed Show and The Red Skelton Hour as well as appearing as Dennis in the feature film Pépé. That same year, North recorded “The Misadventures of Dennis the Menace” soundtrack stories on LP as well as releasing an LP album of songs titled “Jay North – Look Who’s Singing!” Read more 

 

 JOSEPH KEARNS – from TV Guide  

          Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 12, 1907.

          Joseph Kearns is himself a former child performer who began his career at about 8 years of age. Nine-year-old Joseph Sherrard Kearns went on the road with a vaudeville troupe of 11 children touring for 14 months in an act called "The Rising Generation". Joe toured the West Coast in a revival of "What Price Glory?", along with a moderately successful young actor named Clark Gable. For several years back home in Salt Lake City he was a radio disk jockey, announcer, emcee, script-writer and man-in-the-street interviewer.

          In Hollywood, where he settled permanently in 1935, Kearns became a fixture on the "Burns and Allen", "Judy Canova," "Jack Benny," "Scattergood Baines" and "Fibber McGee and Molly" radio shows. On "Suspense," he was the mysterious gent who announced "Now, a tale well calculated to keep you in Suspense." He was Ed the vault keeper, a running gag, on Benny's TV show and the hotel manager on "How to Marry a Millionaire".  His other films were: Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" (1951) as Voice of the Doorknob; "Our Miss Brooks" (1956) the film version, as Mr. Stone; "The Girl Most Likely" (1957) as Mr.Schlom; "The Gift of Love" (1958) as Mr. Rynicker; "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959) as Mr. Burke, his last film. His television debut came in "Our Miss Brooks" (1953-55) as Superintendent Stone. He also guest starred on other TV series including: "I Love Lucy"; "How to Marry a Millionaire"; "My Little Margie"; "Gunsmoke"; "Perry Mason" and "The Donna Reed Show." 

       The part of Mr. Wilson came along in 1959. 

       Musically trained by his mother, a concert pianist named Cordelia Peterson, Kearns once played pipe organ in a Los Angeles silent movie house. He lived in a soundproof 2-1/2 story home he built around his expensive hobby, a 26 rank Wurlitzer organ designed for Warner Brothers in 1929. (2016 note: the home still stands today on Carlos Avenue in Hollywood; the organ was sold and moved to Ohio after his death.)

       Originally, Mr. Wilson was just another Kearns bit. He was signed to a five-year contract and guaranteed work in seven out of every thirteen episodes.   After leaving Wilson out of three episodes, however, Screen Gems discovered there was nobody else in the cast for Dennis to menace. As a result, Mr. Wilson has been in every episode filmed since. "Mr. Wilson, or Kearns" says producer Jim Fonda, "is to Dennis what Amos was to Andy." "Yes", Kearns agrees, "and if I'd known it, I could have got more money". ---from the July 15-21,1961 issue of TV Guide.

     He died of a cerebral hemorrhage (stroke) before the filming of the 1962 (third) season was completed at age 55.  He is buried next to his mother in Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery on Memorial Drive, Hollywood Hills. The marker reads: "Forever Enshrined in our Hearts."

(There were references to George being 'back east' in subsequent shows. Sylvia Field was soon replaced by Sara Seegar in season four, playing John Wilson's wife Eloise.--Wikipedia)

Note: In episode 89 entitled: "Where There's a Will", the story dealt with Mr. Wilson making out a will and explaining that Dennis would inherit his gold watch when he dies. A few days later he passed away on Feb. 17th; his last appearance was Episode 100, “Man Next Door”, which aired May 6, 1962. 

HERBERT ANDERSON

           He was born March 17, 1917 in Oakland, California.

           After a few minor roles in films for Warner Bros., Anderson got his big break in the 1941 picture Navy Blues, starring Martha Raye and Ann Sheridan, followed by The Body Disappears and The Male Animal in which he co-starred with Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland. His other films include the 1949 World War II film Battleground, Give My Regards to Broadway, Excuse My Dust, Island in the Sky, The Benny Goodman Story, Kelly and Me, Joe Butterfly, My Man Godfrey (1957), I Bury the Living, Sunrise at Campobello, Hold On! and Rascal. Anderson also acted extensively in Broadway shows, including the role of Dr. Bird in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. He was also in the film version of The Caine Mutiny, with Humphrey Bogart; he was the only one of both casts to be in the Broadway play and the movie.

          Anderson is also known for both lead and guest-starring roles in many television shows, including Dennis the Menace, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Perry Mason, The David Niven Show, Mr. Adams and Eve, Sea Hunt, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, My Three Sons, The Bing Crosby Show, I Dream of Jeannie, The Smothers Brothers Show, The Cara Williams Show, Petticoat Junction, Bewitched, Daniel Boone, Family Affair, Adam-12, Green Acres, Batman, Dragnet, The Brady Bunch, The Name of the Game, The Governor and J.J., Ironside, Gunsmoke, Nanny and the Professor, The Jimmy Stewart Show, The Smith Family, The Rookies, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and The Waltons.

[He appeared in an episode of "The Brady Bunch" (1969) as a doctor. In that episode, in one scene, four TV parents were shown together: Robert Reed and Florence Henderson (Mike and Carol Brady - "The Brady Bunch" (1969), Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham - "Happy Days" (1974), and Herbert Anderson (Henry Mitchell - "Dennis the Menace" (1959) --IMDb.com]

          Anderson retired from acting in 1982 after having heart surgery. He died of complications from a stroke on June 11, 1994 in Palm Springs, California at the age of 77.--from Wikipedia and IMDb.com

For Anderson's filmography, go to: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0026802/

GLORIA HENRY                             

            Gloria Henry (born Gloria McEniry, April 2, 1923) is an American actress, best known for her role as "Alice Mitchell", Dennis’ mother, from 1959-1963 on the CBS family sitcom, Dennis the Menace.

          Henry lived and grew up on the edge of the Garden District of New Orleans. She was educated at the Worcester Art Museum School.

          She moved to Los Angeles in her very late teens and worked on a number of radio shows and commercials using the stage name of Gloria Henry. She also performed in little theater groups.

          Signed by an agent, Henry transitioned into film work via Columbia Studios and made her debut as the female lead in the minor horse-racing film Sport of Kings (1947).

          The 1950s were an uneventful mixture of more "B" films and episodic TV guest parts such as My Little Margie (1952) and Perry Mason (1957). She was also a regular on the private eye series The Files of Jeffrey Jones (1954) starring Don Haggerty, but was written out of the show when she became pregnant.

          In 1959, Henry landed the role for which she would become most well known, that of "Alice Mitchell" on Dennis the Menace.  Henry portrayed sunny domesticity and maternal warmth for four seasons until the series' cancellation in 1963.

          Henry's career slowed down considerably after Dennis the Menace. She was spotted occasionally in TV-movies playing assorted bit-part matrons, and in 1989 played a small role as an art-collecting society matron in prime time soap Dallas. Henry returned to the big screen in a brief role in Her Minor Thing (2005), a romantic comedy directed by Charles Matthau, Walter Matthau's son. She occasionally attends film festivals and nostalgia conventions.

        Her career after Dennis was brief, including single appearances on shows like "Lassie", "Hazel", and "Petticoat Junction", with her final role in 1975 on the David Janssen crime drama "Harry O".

          For her filmography, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloria_Henry.   

from Wikipedia with permission. For an interview by Mark Voger, see the link under Jeannie Russell below. For the TV interviews by KTLA, go to Interviews

GALE GORDON

          He was born in 1906 in New York City as Charles T. Aldrich, Jr.

          In 1949, Gordon recorded the pilot for “The Halls of Ivy”, starring in the program's title role of Dr. Todhunter Hall, the president of Ivy College. The pilot led to a radio series that aired from 1950–52, but with Ronald Colman in the title role; Gordon later joined the cast as a replacement for Willard Waterman (Mr. Quigley in Dennis) in the popular role of John Merriweather. Gordon was on radio as "Mayor Latrivia" on the  popular "Fibber McGee & Molly Show", which was on the air from 1935-1959

          In 1958, he appeared as a regular in the role of department store co-owner Bascomb Bleacher, Sr., on the NBC sitcom Sally, starring Joan Caulfield and Marion Lorne. Gordon had a co-starring role in the CBS television comedy Pete and Gladys. At this time, he guest starred with Pat O'Brien in the ABC sitcom Harrigan and Son, the story of a father-and-son lawyer team.

          In 1962, Lucille Ball created The Lucy Show and planned to hire Gordon to play Theodore J. Mooney, the banker who was first Lucy Carmichael's executor and subsequently her employer, when she went to work in his bank. However, Gordon was under contract to play John Wilson (after the death of Joseph Kearns), on Dennis the Menace

          He died of lung cancer in 1995 at the age of 89.--from Wikipedia 

 
 

SYLVIA FIELD

She was born February 28, 1901-

Born Harriet Louisa Johnson in Allston, Massachusetts, she attended Arlington High School in Arlington, Massachusetts. Field began her acting career on the stage. She made her Broadway debut at age 17 in The Betrothal (1918). After appearing in various stage productions, Field made her film debut in the 1928 drama The Home Girl.

A native of Boston, Sylvia Field began her career at age 17 when she performed in a play called The Bluebird in New York. She amassed stage credits in more than 40 Broadway plays.

After she married Ernest Truex, the actress participated in a local television series featuring members of their family - her introduction to the small screen.

Field began appearing in guest spots in television in the late 1940s. In 1949, she starred in a locally-produced sitcom about her life, The Truex Family. In 1952, she landed the role of Mrs. Remington in the sitcom Mr. Peepers. The show, which aired until 1955, co-starred Field's real-life husband Ernest Truex. After the end of Mr. Peepers, Field continued to guest star in episodic television, including roles on Producers' ShowcaseStar TonightGeneral Electric Theater, and The Ann Sothern Show.

The actress also appeared in several motion pictures, starting with one silent feature, The Exalted Flapper, and a new-fangled talkie, Voice of the City, both in 1929. Her final two movies were All Mine to Give in 1957 and Annette in 1958.

She was in 3 seasons of Dennis the Menace as Martha Wilson from 1959 to 1962. Her last appearance was in Season 3, Episode 107: "Community Picnic".

Her career after Dennis was brief, including single appearances on shows like "Lassie", "Hazel", and "Petticoat Junction", with her final role in 1975 on the David Janssen crime drama "Harry O". After Truex died in 1973, Field continued to live in their home in Fallbrook, California, occupying herself with fishing, golfing, and tending her avocado orchard. She died of natural causes at age 97 on July 31, 1998.  ---Wikipedia

SARA SEEGAR

                     She was born in Greentown, Indiana in 1914. She and her husband, Ezra Stone, had 2 sons.  Sister of actress Miriam Seegar and sister-in-law of director Tim Whelan.

                The youngest of four talented sisters: Dr. Helen Seegar Stone (1895-1976) (educator); Dorothy Seegar (Broadway and opera singer); and Miriam Seegar (1907-2011) (silent film actress).

    Miss Seegar made her Broadway debut in 1940 in ''Horse Fever,'' a farce that starred Mr. Stone and folded after three weeks. ''The show was a terrible flop,'' Mr. Stone said later. ''We looked good to each other by comparison.'' Miss Seegar said, ''Misery loves company.'' They were married two years later.

               Her career began in London, where she appeared in 1935 in ''Three Men on a Horse.'' She also had roles in four British films including ''Dead Men Tell No Tales.'' All her British film roles were of American women; the British labor office at the time prohibited a foreigner playing a role that could be filled by a British citizen.

    From the 1940's through the 1960's Miss Seegar appeared in American plays including ''At War With the Army'' with Gary Merrill, directed by Mr. Stone on Broadway in 1949, and Sheridan's ''School for Scandal'' with Patricia Neal in 1953 and ''Ernest in Love,'' a musical based on Oscar Wilde's ''The Importance of Being Earnest'' in 1960, both off Broadway.

   She played in no less than 26 different TV shows in the 60's and 70's. She played Eloise Wilson in Dennis the Menace for 36 episodes, 1962-1963. She played ten different characters on Bewitched.

   She died in 1990 of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 76. She lived at Stone Meadows, Newtown, Pa., with her husband, the actor Ezra Stone. --from Seattle Times, NY Times, and Wikipedia

JEANNIE RUSSELL

Jeannie K. Russell (born, October 22, 1950, Pasco, Washington) is an actress best known for playing Dennis's playmate, Margaret Wade, in the television series.

Russell was chosen at the suggestion of Jay North to play his nemesis playmate. She appeared in 31 of the series' 146 episodes over the four-year run of the show. Russell also appeared in other popular TV shows of the era, including, The Deputy (1959), Assignment: Underwater (1961). Death Valley Days (1961), and The Dinah Shore Show. Russell provided a singing voice in the 1961 hit movie Babes in Toyland and made an uncredited appearance in the 1963 popular suspense horror film directed by Alfred HitchcockThe Birds, in which she played a school child.

She has also done live theater and sound track work as well as performing as a singer. In the 1990s, Russell was active on the national talk show and news feature circuit.

Since 1978, Russell has been practicing chiropractic medicine in the North Hollywood/Toluca Lake  area. She also counsels and coaches patients, assisting them with intuitive eating skills to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Russell has also developed a powerful posture building series of movement and strengthening exercises, which draw from her career in show business.

She is also trained in ballet and jazz dance. She and North occasionally appear together at celebrity events. Russell has co-chaired the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Young Performers' Committee for several years.

Russell is the sister of Bryan Russell, who was also a child actor from 1959 to 1967. -- Wikipedia

For the 2011 interviews by KTLA, go to Interviews

For the Mark Voger interview with Jeannie Russell & Gloria Henry, go here. --updated link

BILLY BOOTH

William Allen "Billy" Booth was born November 7, 1949.  Of course, he was most famous as Tommy Anderson, Dennis Mitchell's best friend, and was in 112 episodes. He appeared in 17 TV shows from 1957 to 1967, including My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show, The Donna Reed Show, The Detectives, Lawman, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Twilight Zone, and many more.

After graduating from Cresenta Valley High School Class of 1967, he studied and became an attorney. He taught business law at Cuesta College and Cal Poly, both in San Luis Obispo County, California.

He was divorced (Kathern) and had one son, Devon Alexander Booth. Billy died on December 31, 2006 from liver complications at age 54.

For more on Billy, go to Remembering William "Billy" Booth - a tribute by his sister.

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"Henry, who said she still keeps in touch with North, remembered him as "this typical little guy who didn't have much of a chance to be a little boy. His uncle and aunt kept him in his dressing room, going over lines."

                      

Jeannie Russell, as Margaret, now a chiropractor near Universal Studios, also recalled North as "this very sweet and sensitive boy. He really  liked me." --LA Times, 2011