On This Day: ‘Dennis the Menace’ Premieres on CBS in 1959

by Keeli Parkey

The sitcom featuring the beloved little scamp that jumped from the comic strip to the television screen first began entertaining television viewers 62 years ago. It was on Oct. 4, 1959, that “Dennis the Menace” made its television debut.

The inspiration for the series came from the comic of the same name. That comic was the creation of the cartoonist Hank Ketcham. As fans are aware, the comic – and the television series – follow the antics of a mischievous child named Dennis.

According to IMDb, the sitcom “Dennis the Menace” aired for 146 episodes from 1959 until 1963. Its final episode aired on July 7, 1963.

The popular television series starred Jay North as the title character. Of course, he appeared in all 146 episodes of the classic sitcom. North is now 70 years old. He was born on Aug. 3, 1951, in Hollywood, California.

While the character he played as a youngster got into a lot of trouble, North spent some of his adulthood helping to keep other youngsters on the straight-and-narrow. He reportedly did so while working with the Florida juvenile justice system. He worked as both an administrator and correctional officer with that organization.

Following his work in “Dennis the Menace,” Jay North appeared in several other television shows over the years. These included such series as “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “The Lucy Show,” “My Three Sons,” “Maya,” “The Banana Splits Advenure Hour,” “The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show,” and “Lassie.”

He also portrayed himself in a 1999 episode of “The Simpsons” titled “Take My Wife, Sleaze.” His most recent acting job came in 2003. That year, he played himself in the film “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.” That film starred David Spade, Mary McCormack, and Alyssa Milano.

Joining Jay North in the Cast of ‘Dennis the Menace’ Were Herbert Anderson, Gloria Henry, Joseph Kearns, and Sylvia Field

In addition to Jay North, the cast of “Dennis the Menace” also included Herbert Anderson and Gloria Henry. These actors played the parents of the show’s star. As fans are already aware, the parents were Henry Mitchell and Alice Mitchell. Unsurprisingly, they appeared in all 146 episodes of the television series.

Another key player in the television show were the Mitchell’s neighbors – Mr. and Mrs. George Wilson. Playing George Wilson was Joseph Kearns. George’s wife, Martha Wilson, was played by Sylvia Field.

Unfortunately, Joseph Kearns passed away while the show’s third season was airing. In order to explain this loss, the show said that George had traveled to Ohio. The show also brought in a character who was George’s brother, John Wilson, to fill the void. It was explained that John came to visit with Martha Wilson during George’s ravels.

You can watch the opening credits of the “Dennis the Menace” sitcom below.

The title character in the “Dennis the Menace” comic strip created by Hank Kethcam was inspired by the artist’s son. Unsurprisingly, the boy’s name was Dennis Ketcham.