He also was a radio actor! Did alot of "Suspense" episodes!!!!
In 1959 Dennis The Menace was a popular TV show, based on the comic strip. The irritable Mr. Wilson was played by an actor named Joseph Kearns, who did a great job, and came off as loveable despite his irritability. But smack in the middle of the 1961-1962 season, Kearns keeled over and died of a heart attack.
So get this: The studio simply hired a new actor to replace Kearns. Moved him in and made him the new Mr. Wilson, just like that. No goodbye old Mr. Wilson, just hello new guy. No one in the entire neighborhood seemed to notice that Mr. Wilson had morphed into an entirely different human being -- not Dennis, not the neighbors, not even Mrs. Wilson.
No one in my elementary school could watch Dennis the Menace after that without getting completely freaked out. As far as we were concerned, Rod Serling should have been introducing each new episode of Dennis The Menace. The show was cancelled in 1963, and not a moment too soon as far as we creeped-out 10-year-olds were concerned.
UPDATE: OOPS! I should have put this under Actors and Actresses, not Other Names in the News. Nuts!
He was born on February 12, 1907 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He got his start in show business working in radio in the 1940s on such shows as "Adventures of Sam Spade"; "Burns and Allen"; "The Cinnamon Bear"; "Suspense" and many others. His very brief film career started with his debut in "Hard, Fast and Beautiful" (1951) as J.R. Carpenter. 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 was also a regular on the TV series: "Dennis the Menace" (1959-62) as Mr. George Wilson. 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." He was an avid organist and his Hollywood home was built around a huge organ. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on February 17, 1962 in Los Angeles, California five days after his 55th birthday.
Last edited by MbalmR; 12-16-2007 at 08:06 PM. Reason: Duplicate threads
He also was a radio actor! Did alot of "Suspense" episodes!!!!
Actually the new Mr Wilson, Gale Gorden, was the old Mr Wilson's brother.
if I had been a 10 year old then it would have freaked me out too, but I guess that's the nature of the business if you're on a popular show
Harry in Connecticut is right. It wasn't the same Mr. Wilson played by another actor...he was cast as Mr. Wilson's brother.
What freaks me out though is him living in the same house with his sister-in-law. Now that's creepy.
Joseph Kearns did a few I Love Lucys as well.
Speaking of Kearnes and Dennis the Menace, does anyone believe the claims that Jay North was abused when he did this show?
Over the years Jay claimed his aunt would slap him right on the set and often in front of others, once hard enough to draw blood. Another claim I remember North made was that his uncle picked him up and threw him across the room right in front of Kearns and his TV dad, Herb Anderson yet neither actor, nor anyone else for that matter stepped in and helped Jay.
I also heard the rumor where Jay North was actually sexually abused on the set and some of that abuse involved Joesph Kearns. And yet another story says Jay had "thoughts" of getting a gun and killing everyone on the show and even shooting himself. How watching the show in his later years would piss him off so much that he wanted to "hurt" someone.
I remember watching Jay North on some interview show back in the 80s where he made some of these claims, yet on other shows he would speak highly of the cast and crew of Dennis. Almost like the so called abuse never happened. What gives?
Myself think some of it was jealousy on the part of Jay North. After all he and Ron Howard and Kurt Russell are about the same age and the latter two became famous. Jay didn't. And I do remember reading in some trivia book back in the 80s where Jay said that the kids of the 80s were "trash" and how he would like to shove a fist in the face of the then crop of teen stars ( Matt Dillion and Scott Baio for examples ). Calling the girls on the Facts of Life "whores". Ah......sounds like jealously to me.
Paul Peterson, who played Jeff on "Donna Reed" is an advocate for child stars. I saw him on a talk show way back. His show was made very near where DTM was mafe.
He told of how Jay North was treated by his aunt and uncle. He Jay was often on their set, sitting on Donna Reed's lap.
I also saw Jay on talk shows. He was troubled and no doubt about it. He got help from Paul's organization.
Last edited by Harry in Connecticut; 10-30-2007 at 07:18 PM. Reason: I added a link
As far as North goes, I heard he has somewhat mellowed out in recent years in reguards to Dennis the Menace. The E True Hollywood Story about Dennis was very well done. North seemed like a nice guy.
Years prior when he did that NBC special on child stars, the way he acted I would be scared to be in the same room as him.
I liked him in How to Marry a Millionare.
The exteriors were shot on the same lot. Donna Reeds house was right next to the Wilson house on the opposite side from the Mitchell house. Mr. Wilson's house became the I Dream of Jeannie House. And the Partridge Family and Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched used the Donna Read house. A lot of old sitcoms from the fifties through today were shot on this same lot. I imagine that the Donna Reed Show and Dennis The Menace shared Sound stage space also.
If anyone is interested here's a web site dedicated to the back lot.
1164 Morning Glory Circle was the address for Darrin and Samantha on Bewitched.
Last edited by John Trim; 12-16-2007 at 07:46 AM.
Jay North moved to Florida many years ago and was working in the state prison system as a guard. I don't think he still is though. He was living near Jacksonville.
I can remember North joining the Navy in the 70's and I thought that was a rock bottom move. I also heard him around the same time state he once lost his mind because he was addicted to Dr. Pepper.
"Everybody is born, and everybody dies. Being born wasn't so bad , was it?"
Peter the Hermit
I thought Jay blew his brains out a few years ago?? Am I wrong?
Yes, you're mistaken. He didn't.
Here's a clip of Joseph's "Dennis the Menace" co-star Jay North singing "Little Boy Blues" on Ed Sullivan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lQ-TA5cbKs
I don't know why, but this creeped me out a little. I guess because of how he was being abused at the time. And his smiles look so forced...
I think about Joseph Kearns a lot, according to the Shout Factory dvd I watched last night, he was rather shy, I have a feeling he was not an abuser. Gloria Henry said though that before his death, he had taken to drinking Metrical three times a day, for five or so weeks. He wanted to lose weight, and had a stroke instead. It's weird watching those episodes, the first season he was around 53, and I'm only four years older now. I would love to talk to Jay North, but I don't think it's a good idea any more.
I always enjoyed DTM and remember watching them on Sunday evenings. I always thought Joseph Kearns did a great job as Mr.Wilson. The fussy old skinflint that was a retired ladies undergarment salesman. All he ever wanted to do was to enjoy a peaceful retirement planting flowers, collecting stamps and coins. Little did he know his life would change forever with that mischievous little boy that who only wanted to be his friend. HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLO MR.WILSONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN !!!
The story I heard was that Jay North was very upset after Mr.Kearns death and took it hard. It wasn't the same with Gale Gordon and yes it was creepy with him living with Mrs. Wilson. As I recall Mr.Kearns was "out of town" and his brother was watching out for Mrs. Wilson. Eventually Mrs. Wilson would be written out of the show entirely.
I never heard the rumors of abuse by Mr. Kearns towards Jay North. I did hear from the actress that played Margaret that Jay was kept away from the other kids by his mother( altho it could have been his aunt) and she was very strict with him doing his best and knowing his lines.
Jay had a career after DTM. He was the lead in the tv show Maya about a boy in India and did a few movies,Including soft porn. I actually saw this flick in a drive-in I guess around 1969-70. As best as I can remember it was about a student, Jay, being seduced by his teacher. I also recall when Jay joined the Navy. We are about the same age and as I recall he wasn't that young when he did it.
It was Rusty Hamer of "Make Room For Daddy" that blew his brains out, not Jay North.
"Make Room For Daddy" was another one of my favorites, I was put off by the constant blowhard ranting by Daddy even then. Mr. Heckendorn (Gale Gordon) cracked my sister up because friends of ours two blocks from here were the Heckendorns. Their girl was my sister's best friend for a few years. I did not find it particularly disturbing that the mother on MRFD (Jean Hagen) died, and was replaced by Marjorie Lord. Jean apparently didn't care much for the series and wanted out, I don't believe she had much of a career beyond that, or if she even wanted to continue one. I found her and Marjorie equally entertaining, but preferred Marge of the two.
So far though, the little digging I did on Joseph Kearns was sketchy. He had enough sucess and experience in the business to have his own biography, or at least a better writeup than I've found so far. That goes for many other character actors in history. I'm sure Jay North was quite upset about Kearn's passing, as I'm sure the rest of the cast was. I'm certain the aunt and possibly the uncle too, were Jay's "managers" and ruled the poor kid with an iron fist. Mother and father, if in the picture, had little to say in the matter. Aunt and Uncle were real pieces of work.
If you are in the L.A. area the middle of July, there is a autograph show at the Marriot located adjacent to Burbank Airport. Jay North, Jeannie Rusell and Gloria Henry from DTM will be in attendance.
I read years ago in an interesting movie/tv magazine ( I believe it was Filmfax) an interview that Jay gave on his life and career. He adored Kearns and regretted not being allowed to attend his funeral. Kearns' death resulted in Gale Gordon being cast as Mister Wilson's brother, along with another actress to play his wife. So Kearns' TV wife found herself out of work due to Kearn's death.
Jay's mom couldn't (or wouldn't) give up her job to accompany her son to the set every day, so her sister (who was married) took charge of Jay. This aunt and uncle would physically abuse Jay, but always where it wouldn't be visible, i.e. they'd hit his back or stomach, not his face or arms. Once an on-set dog saw the slingshot (sewn-into the backpocket of the costume) and tried to bite it; Jay ended up being taken for a tetanus shot, causing delays in shooting, etc. The aunt and uncle blamed JAY for what the dog did! He got quite a beating for that.
On weekends Jay would get no rest ... the aunt and uncle would drag him onto some bus or plane so he could make an appearance at a county fair, or supermarket-opening, etc. By Monday he'd be dragging his tired little ass back onto the set to learn lines, PLUS try to learn (and get passing grades on)schoolwork as well during breaks in shooting, etc. Ronnie Howard came over to Jay's dressing room once asking to play with Jay and the aunt closed the door on Ronnie, saying something like "he doesn't go out and play, he's a STAR..." Jay later attributed his aunt and uncle's health problems (strokes, etc.) to all the bad karma they earned for themselves for mistreating him.
The only good thing I can remember about this period in his life is the fact that his mom wisely invested his earnings for him, she didn't use the money to indulge herself with luxury items, etc.. I tried searching online for the article but had no success, otherwise I'd be brief and provide a link to the article itself.
I always thought that Kearns looked far older than 55 when he died.
I wonder if his birth date was altered.
Edna Skinner died in 2003 however her acting days did pretty much died with Larry as she retired from acting while Mr. Ed was still on the air.
Last edited by choff; 09-23-2013 at 10:21 PM.