Dennis the Menace / Just Dennis

1959 | United States

Created by cartoonist Hank Ketcham, Dennis first appeared in US newspapers in 1951 before making his television debut in October 1959 in the person of 7 year-old actor Jay North. 

Although Dennis's long suffering parents had to endure the antics of a child who always tried to help out-only to find that he had created mayhem in his wake, their plight was nothing compared to that of luckless next door neighbour George Wilson. Actor Joseph Kearns died before filming had been completed for the 1961-62 season and was replaced by Gale Gordon, who was initially introduced as George's brother, John. For the last season John moved into the house next door with a wife of his own. By that time, the lovable tyke was 11 years old, but still dressed in striped tee-shirt and dungarees. 

In the UK the series was renamed Just Dennis to avoid confusion with the Dennis the Menace cartoon strip in the popular children's comic, Beano. The series continued in reruns for many years, in 1987 there was a one-off sequel starring Victor DiMattia as Dennis and an animated series ran from 1986 to 1988. But by far the most successful revival was the 1993 feature film, Dennis, starring Mason Gamble and Walter Matthau. 

Published on December 7th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.