Monday, December 9, 2013

Dennis the Menace (1960)

In an interview included in the Season 1 DVD release of Dennis the Menace, radio show host and TV historian Stu Shostak asked actress Gloria Henry whether the show on which she played Dennis' mother was the CBS network's attempt to make up for abandoning Leave It to Beaver after one season and allowing the program to move over to ABC, where it ran for another five years. Henry replies to the question that she supposes that could have been true, and other online sources suggest that it was, but Henry treats the idea as mere conjecture. Still, Dennis the Menace was indeed another family-based situation comedy depicting the often troublesome antics of a little boy who innocently doesn't understand how things work in the adult world. The differences between the two shows, of course, are more striking than the similarities. Dennis was based on the popular comic strip created by Hank Ketcham, who according to Henry had considerable input on the TV show, whereas Beaver was based on the real-life experiences of creators Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher's sons. Dennis is an only child; Beaver has an older brother Wally. Dennis is tormented by little girl Margaret Wade, who is forever trying to get him to play house and hold her doll; Beaver is teased and tricked by Eddie Haskell, Wally's two-faced friend. But most important is that the plots on Dennis largely revolve around a single theme--how Dennis ruins something for his neighbor and self-avowed best friend Mr. George Wilson, whereas the plots on Beaver are much more varied--some involving lessons learned by Beaver, some by Wally, and even some by Beaver's parents June and Ward Cleaver.

Though Beaver is today often thought of as the stereotypical naive and idealized 1950s era sitcom, the characters are not one-dimensional, but on Dennis they mostly are--Dennis is a single-minded boy who doesn't realize how his good intentions, whether trying to help Mr. Wilson or his parents, or trying to get something he wants, can create havoc for others. Mr. Wilson always suspects that Dennis will ruin something (which is often borne out) and is often foiled by his own greed or overweening sense of self-importance. Dennis' parents Henry and Alice Mitchell are mere foils for his antics, rarely having any depth beyond trying to stop him. The acting for all of these roles is also nearly always overplayed. Wilson's scowls and utterances of "Great Scott!" are just as overwrought as Henry and Alice Mitchell's wide-eyed and open-mouthed shock at nearly everything Dennis does. In fact, the overdone acting and laugh track included with each episode make the show more like a contemporary sitcom, whereas Beaver succeeds with more subtle humor that evolves out of more true-to-life situations and wry dialogue that doesn't sound like a telegraphed punchline.

But Dennis the Menace was an almost instant hit, earning a glowing review in the February 20, 1960 issue of TV Guide, in which Bob Stahl remarked, "Many of the scripts telegraph their endings but they're still entertaining." The show also scored in the top 20 of the Nielsen ratings the first three of its four seasons. And Stahl, is right--many of the episodes are entertaining, despite the exaggerated main characters, because many episodes are bolstered by the strong, large supporting cast of recurring characters, much like Beaver's cast of supporting characters like Eddie Haskell, Fred and Lumpy Rutherford, Larry Mondello, etc. On Dennis many of the best supporting characters are female, beginning with George Wilson's long-suffering wife Martha, played by Sylvia Field, who is alternately cheerfully supportive when Wilson repeatedly shoots himself in the foot, or sternly ashamed when he tricks or exploits good-hearted Dennis. For example, in "The Rock Collection" (November 13, 1960) she scolds George after he first tries to get rid of Dennis by saying he will give $1 to the boy who collects the most different kinds of rocks in a week and later suggests to Dennis that he can probably find all kinds of rocks in a run-down empty lot he is trying to sell, thereby getting Dennis to clean up his shabby property. And in "Dennis Creates a Hero" (March 20, 1960) she shames George into donning a bearskin rug and pretending to bite Dennis' friend Tommy on the foot so that Dennis can stage a photo of his father coming to Tommy's rescue to print in the local newspaper. Of course, Henry and Alice are not in on the gag and George ends up getting hit over the head with a flower pot for his trouble. However, Martha is always ready to serve George some of his self-concocted "nerve medicine" (which he tells nursery owner Merrivale he mixes himself from an old Indian recipe in "Dennis and the Bees" [April 17, 1960]) whenever he is overcome with exasperation.

Dennis' tormentor Margaret Wade, the impossibly curly haired little girl who envisions marrying Dennis one day, tries to round him into shape by frequently bargaining with him to force him to play house or hold her doll. In "Dennis and the Bike" (January 24, 1960) Margaret agrees to give Dennis her bike if he agrees to get engaged to her; his parents quickly send him back to her house with the bike when they hear the terms of the deal. In "Dennis and the Swing" (February 21, 1960) Dennis has to agree to come over and play house in three days if he wants to take any lumber scraps from Mr. Wade's woodpile. In "Henry and Togetherness" (November 20, 1960), Dennis has to agree to go over to Margaret's and play house in exchange for her chewed bubblegum, which he needs to plug a hole in his fish aquarium. And in "The Christmas Horse" (December 25, 1960), Margaret has finally had enough and confides to Alice that she is breaking off their engagement because she just can't live like this anymore and she would return the engagement ring, only Dennis never gave her one. Later in the episode, Dennis recognizes that her breakup note is typed on a typewriter, which he needs to trade for a pony that another boy received for Christmas. Dennis is so intent on acquiring the horse that he is even willing to make up with Margaret in order to get the typewriter. Throughout all her encounters with Dennis, Margaret's serious, superlative, and bossy tone and demeanor are pure comedic gold. The fact that Jeannie Russell gave these performances without benefit of rehearsing with the other actors, as she revealed in the 2010 Shostak interview, makes the performances all the more impressive.

Another stellar character is man-hunting spinster Miss Cathcart, played brilliantly by the great character actress Mary Wickes. Like the squirrel-crazy canine Dug in the 2009 animated film Up, Miss Cathcart's attention is easily diverted at the mere suggestion that an employed bachelor is nearby. In "Dennis and the Starlings" (May 8, 1960), Miss Cathcart has her sights set on the postman Mr. Dorfman, whom she waits for behind a post on her porch, springing out when he tiptoes up to deliver her mail, and whisking him into her parlor for tea, flirtation, and her ear-shattering singing, which proves a most effective repellant in driving off flocks of starlings bothering Mr. Wilson. In "Miss Cathcart's Sunsuit" (June 12, 1960) she turns her attention to landscape gardener Mr. Carlson, who drops by and offers to clean up her yard but she takes it as a proposal for marriage, as does Dennis, who repeats the miscommunication to Mr. Dorfman, who as a lodge brother of Carlson feels compelled to break up their supposed tryst since Carlson is already married. Miss Cathcart also makes an appearance in "Dennis and the Wedding" (October 9, 1960), though here she is only lending her overpowering singing voice to a wedding held in the Wilson's home, shattering a bottle of pestilent poison in the basement during the rehearsal and driving everyone outside. Wickes steals every scene in which she appears; it's unfortunate she appeared in only a handful of episodes.

Also sadly underexposed is Irene Tedrow's portrayal of Mrs. Elkins, a neighbor who sees right through Wilson's machinations. Though she often is mere window dressing in most of the episodes in which she appears, she if fully capable of delivering a comic punch, as she does in "Dennis and the Ham-Pher" (October 23, 1960) when Mr. Wilson thinks he has trapped a pesky gopher in Dennis' box-propped-up-by-a-stick trap, denies having seen Mrs. Elkins' cat when she comes walking down the street looking for it, then is mortified to hear meows coming from inside the box trap. Elkins not only snootily sweeps up her rescued pet but promises to tell all her friends what a contemptible human being Wilson is. She always seems to catch Wilson at his worst and has the perfectly withering glance to sink him even deeper.

Though Dennis the Menace had a lot going for it and scored high ratings for three years, like Leave It to Beaver it was fated to be a short-lived success because the age of its star was central to its appeal. And like Beaver's Jerry Mathers, Jay North eventually grew too old to credibly play the title character. The show was also dealt a severe blow when Joseph Kearns, who so capably embodied sourpuss George Wilson, died from a stroke during season 3. The show's producers tried replacing him with Gale Gordon as Wilson's brother John at the end of the third and throughout the fourth season. Martha Wilson was discarded at the end of season 3 with the explanation that she and George had gone on a long trip, and Sara Seegar as Louise Wilson, John's wife, was added to the cast. Unlike when My Three Sons replaced the ill William Frawley with William Demarest and kept right on ticking for another seven seasons, the character transition on Dennis had a negative impact on its ratings, as the show tumbled out of the top 30 for the first time in its history and was canceled. North was relieved, as his turn in the spotlight was not a happy one, as documented in his biography below. But his brief stint as a TV star secured his financial future and put a lot of smiles on viewers' faces.

The theme for Dennis the Menace was composed by William Loose who worked for John Seely, the head of Capitol Records' music library service since the mid 1950s. Loose had risen from being the arranger for an Omaha, NE radio station to leading the U.S. Army Air Forces Orchestra during World War II. During his stint at Capitol, he was also a prolific composer of music and cues for many TV shows, including The Gumby Show, Sheriff of Cochise, The Donna Reed Show, Trackdown, The  Huckleberry Hound Show, Tate, The Texan, The Lawless Years, and Naked City as well as many Loony Tunes cartoons. He also later in the 1960s composed for shows such as Tarzan, The Hollywood Squares, and The Doris Day Show. He died from a heart attack at the age of 80 on February 22, 1991; however, some of his cues were resurrected for The Ren and Stimpy Show in the 1990s. 

All four seasons have been released on DVD by Shout! Factory.

The Actors

Jay North

Jay Waverly North was born in Hollywood, an only child whose alcoholic father separated from his mother when Jay was four and never saw his son again. Now a single mother with a child to support, Jay's mother went to work as the secretary to the West Coast director of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Her insider connections got Jay an appearance on his favorite TV show, Cartoon Express, at age 6, where he was spotted by a talent agent who got his mother's approval to represent him. After a few sporadic appearances on late 1950s shows such as The George Gobel Show, The Eddie Fisher Show, The Milton Berle Show, and a memorable performance on Wanted: Dead or Alive in which his character paid Steve McQueen's Josh Randall 8 cents to find Santa Claus, North auditioned for the part of Dennis the Menace but did poorly on his first try. His agent persuaded the studio to give him another try, and though it took roughly a year before he heard the results, he was cast in the lead role of the new sitcom. North made clear in interviews many years later that his mother never took any of his earnings for herself while he was playing Dennis. She continued to work as a secretary to earn her own keep and entrusted Dennis to an aunt and uncle who secretly physically and verbally abused him when they felt he had not performed up to their standards. They also restricted his playtime with other children and were lax with his mandatory 3 hours of schooling required for all child actors at the time. North never spoke out about the abuse until many years later, believing, as most children did in that era, that he must obey his elders. North was also not a natural blonde and had to endure what he later called a torturous hair dye job every other week during the show's run. Thus, when the show was finally canceled after four season, North considered it good riddance.

But since he had received little real schooling while on the show, North found the transition to traditional education difficult, and he continued trying to find more acting roles during his teen and early adult years, though he was burdened by the huge Dennis shadow and found that producers were often unable to see him in any other kind of role. However, in 1966 he landed the lead role in a jungle-based feature film drama Maya, which was set in India. The following year, the story was made into a TV series with North reprising his role as Terry Bowen. Though the show lasted for only a single season, North later said that he was proud of his work on the show. He also continued occasional appearances on other TV shows such as My Three Sons and The Lucy Show. However, after Maya was canceled, North found work as a voice actor on animated shows such as The Banana Splits Adventure Hour and as the voice of the teenaged Bamm-Bamm on The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show. His starring role as a young man who has an affair with an older woman in 1974's The Teacher earned him some positive reviews as well as negative publicity by those who found the R-rated film lurid. North left the acting world and joined the Navy at age 26, accepting the lowest rank in the service, but soon asked to be released from his commitment after being mistreated by his colleagues and superiors because of his past as a child actor. He returned to minor acting roles for a while but also joined Paul Petersen of The Donna Reed Show in the child-actor advocacy organization A Minor Consideration to hopefully help other young actors avoid the abuses he suffered as a child. Today North lives off the earnings his mother wisely invested from his years on Dennis the Menace and makes appearances at TV memorabilia shows, living with his third wife Cynthia Hackney and her three children from a previous marriage in Lake Butler, Florida.

Joseph Kearns

Joseph Sherrard Kearns was born Salt Lake City, Utah. His mother was an accomplished concert pianist, and Kearns himself would later become a theatrical pipe organist and had his home in Hollywood designed around a theatre-sized Wurlitzer pipe organ. He appeared as a child in a local vaudeville troupe and supported himself through college at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City by teaching a course in theatrical make-up. Thereafter he had a successful radio acting career beginning in the 1930s, with regular spots as the host of Suspense, on the children's show The Cinnamon Bear, and as Jack Benny's money vault security guard Ed on The Jack Benny Program (a role he reprised on TV). He moved into film acting in the late 1940s, and though he had far more TV appearances than in feature films, his credits included roles in Hard, Fast and Beautiful, as the voice of the doorknob in Disney's Alice in Wonderland, and as crime photographer Lloyd Burke in Anatomy of a Murder. On television he played Superintendant Edgar T. Stone on Our Miss Brooks and August P. Tobey on How to Marry a Millionaire as well as multiple guest appearances on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and Gunsmoke before landing the role of George Wilson on Dennis the Menace.

As mentioned above, Kearns died from a stroke, a cerebral hemorrhage, at age 55 on February 19, 1962. In the Stu Shostak 2010 interview also cited previously, Gloria Henry mentioned that roughly six weeks before that Wilson had decided he needed to lose weight in order to properly look like the TV star he had become, so he went on a Metracal diet, consuming nothing but the weight-reducing shakes at each meal during the six week period and losing a considerable amount of weight. Whether this led to his death has not been medically proven, but Henry seemed to indicate that it was a significant consideration.

Gloria Henry

Born Gloria McEniry in New Orleans, Henry moved to Los Angeles in her late teens and found work in commercials and on radio shows before being signed by an agent and beginning film work in the late 1940s for Columbia Pictures. Her credits included Sport of Kings, Johnny Allegro, and Rancho Notorious, and in 1952 she landed the role of Michelle Malone on the TV series The Files of Jeffrey Jones. Through the rest of the 1950s the TV appearances and film roles were more sparse, though she did appear on the very first episode of Perry Mason in 1957. Being cast as Dennis the Menace's mother Alice Mitchell proved to be the role of her career, but after the show's cancellation, she, like Jay North, had difficulty finding other roles.

After a 1965 appearance on the show The Farmer's Daughter, Henry had an 18-year gap in acting roles but returned in the 1980s with the occasional appearance on shows like Simon & Simon, Newhart, Mr. Belvedere, and Dallas. Though her acting career virtually ended in 1992, she has since appeared in the 2005 feature film Her Minor Thing and a 2012 episode of Parks and Recreation. Today she makes occasional appearances at film festivals and conventions.

Herbert Anderson

If ever an actor were cast in a role solely on looks, it would be Herbert Anderson, who perfectly reflected the cartoon version of Dennis the Menace's father Henry Mitchell. Anderson was born in Oakland and broke into films with Warner Brothers in 1939. His first big role came in the 1941 Martha Raye-Ann Sheridan comedy Navy Blues, and he parlayed that success into a plethora of roles in movies such as Dive Bomber, The Male Animal, Give My Regards to Broadway, Excuse My Dust, The Caine Mutiny, The Benny Goodman Story, and My Man Godfrey. In 1957 he began making occasional TV appearances on shows like The Real McCoys, Perry Mason, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents before landing his career role as Henry Mitchell.

After Dennis was canceled, Anderson continued to find work on television, including multiple appearances on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Batman, and Dragnet, continuing into the 1970s on Ironside, The Rookies, and The Waltons. He officially retired from acting in 1982 after undergoing heart surgery and moved to Palm Springs, California in 1985, where he died at age 77 on June 11, 1994, two months after suffering a stroke.

Sylvia Field

Harriet Louisa Johnson was born in Allston, MA in 1901 and began her acting career as a teenager on Broadway in 1918. Her first film role came in the short Home Girl in 1928, and though he appeared in five more films the next year, including The Exalted Flapper, she made no films during the 1930s, a period that coincided with her marriage to her second husband Harold LeRoy Moffett, who died in 1938. She married screen actor Ernest Truex in 1941, and her screen career resumed that year. She began appearing on television, mostly on drama anthology series, in 1948. She starred as Mrs. Remington on her husband's show Mister Peepers from 1952-55. She later played Aunt Lila on the Disney TV serial Annette, starring Annette Funicello, before being cast as Martha Wilson in 1959. Truex appeared in the final 1960 episode of Dennis, playing Christmas tree salesman Mr. McGuire in "The Christmas Horse" (December 25, 1960).

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.

Billy Booth

William Allen Booth was born in Los Angeles in 1949 and made his film debut in the 1957 feature The Snow Queen. Reportedly recommended for the part of Dennis' best friend Tommy Anderson by Jay North himself, Booth appeared in 111 of the show's 146 episodes. His work on the show led to occasional appearances on other shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and Lawman, and for a few years after Dennis' cancellation, he appeared on The Donna Reed Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and My Three Sons.

He left acting when he went to college and eventually became a lawyer with a practice based in Morro Bay, California. He also taught business law at Cuesta College and Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He died from liver complications at the age of 54 on December 31, 2006.

Jeannie Russell

Jeanne K. Russell was born in Pasco, Washington, and like Billy Booth she was recommended for the role of Dennis' nemesis Margaret Wade by Jay North. Besides her 38 appearances on Dennis the Menace, Russell's filmography is relatively short--single appearances on The Deputy, Assignment: Underwater, and Death Valley Days and an uncredited appearance in Hitchcock's The Birds. She also appears as a singer's voice in the Disney feature Babes in Toyland and has performed as a singer after Dennis, though her primary profession today is as a chiropractor in North Hollywood. She has also developed a program of exercises for improving posture and building strength, based in part on her training in show business, ballet, and jazz dance. She also co-chaired the Screen Actors Guild Young Performers' Committee and remains in contact with Jay North to this day.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 1, Episode 13, "Dennis Haunts a House": Ron Howard (shown on the left, played Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, Bob Smith on The Smith Family, Richie Cunningham on Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, and the narrator on Arrested Development) plays Dennis' friend Stewart. Maudie Prickett (Cassie Murphy on Date With the Angels, Miss Gordon on The Jack Benny Program, and Rosie on Hazel) plays fortune teller Madame Tina. 

Season 1, Episode 14, "Dennis and the Tree House": Byron Foulger (Mr. Nash on Captain Nice and Wendell Gibbs on Petticoat Junction) plays birdwatcher Mr. Timberlake. 

Season 1, Episode 15, "Dennis and the Rare Coin": Michael Fox (shown on the right, played Coroner George McLeod on Burke's Law, Amos Fedders on Falcon Crest, Saul Feinberg on The Bold and the Beautiful, and appeared 25 times as autopsy surgeons and various other medical witnesses on Perry Mason) plays coin dealer Mr. Hathaway. George Cisar (Cyrus Tankersley on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D.) plays police Sgt. Mooney. 

Season 1, Episode 16, "Dennis and the Bike": Ralph Sanford (Mayor Jim Kelley on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays an unnamed man in the park. 

Season 1, Episode 17, "Dennis and the Open House": Dub Taylor (starred in You Can't Take It With You, Bonnie & Clyde, and The Wild Bunch, played Cannonball in 53 western films, and played Wallie Simms on Casey Jones, Mitch Brady on Hazel, and Ed Hewley on Please Don't Eat the Daisies) plays house hunter Opie Swanson. Grandon Rhodes (Mr. Vanderlip on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Dr. Stevens on Lassie, Dr. J.P. Martin on Bonanza, and the judge 16 times on Perry Mason) plays Henry's business prospect Mr. Purdy. Marjorie Bennett (Birdie Brockaway on Lassie, Mrs. Neimayer on The Bob Cummings Show, and Mrs. Kenny on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) plays an uninvited guest.

Season 1, Episode 19, "Dennis and the Swing": George Cisar (shown on the right, see "Dennis and the Rare Coin" above) returns as Sgt. Mooney.

Season 1, Episode 20, "Dennis and the Dog": Charles Watts (Judge Blandon on Bachelor Father) plays pompous painter Ballard Fillmore. Byron Foulger (see "Dennis and the Tree House" above) returns as Mr. Timberlake. 

Season 1, Episode 21, "Mr. Wilson's Sister": Mary Adams (Lavinia Webster on Window on Main Street) plays Wilson's sister Helen Forbes. 

Season 1, Episode 22, "Dennis and the TV Set": Dub Taylor (see "Dennis and the Open House" above) plays repairman Opie Swanson. 

Season 1, Episode 23, "Dennis Creates a Hero": Charles Seel (shown on the left, played the bartender on Tombstone Territory and Tom Pride on The Road West) plays newspaper editor Mr. Krinkie. 

Season 1, Episode 24, "Dennis' Paper Drive": Helen Kleeb (Miss Claridge on Harrigan and Son, Miss Tandy on Room 222, and Mamie Baldwin on The Waltons) plays paper drive sponsor Mrs. Holland. 

Season 1, Episode 25, "Dennis and the Bees": Dub Taylor (see "Dennis and the Open House" above) plays beekeeper Opie Swanson. Will Wright (shown on the right, played Ben Weaver on The Andy Griffith Show) plays nursery owner Mr. Merrivale. Addison Richards (starred in Boys Town, They Made Her a Spy, Flying Tigers, and The Deerslayer and played Doc Calhoun on Trackdown and Doc Landy on The Deputy) plays grumpy millionaire Mr. Stacy.

Season 1, Episode 26, "Alice's Birthday": Charles Lane (shown on the left, played Mr. Fosdick on Dear Phoebe, Homer Bedloe on Petticoat Junction, Foster Phinney on The Beverly Hillbillies, Dale Busch on Karen, and Judge Anthony Petrillo on Soap) plays drugstore owner Mr. Finch. Molly Dodd (Miss Scott on Hazel) plays saleswoman Ms. Williams. Eleanor Audley (Mother Eunice Douglas on Green Acres and Mrs. Vincent on My Three Sons) plays shopper Mrs. Pompton. Kathryn Card (Mrs. McGillicuddy on I Love Lucy, Mrs. Papernow on The Charles Farrell Show, and Maw Kadiddlehopper on The Red Skelton Hour) plays outraged by-stander Mrs. Biddy.

Season 1, Episode 28, "Dennis and the Starlings": Robert B. Williams (Barney on Hazel) plays postman Mr. Dorfman. Mary Wickes (shown on the right, starred in White Christmas, Destry, The Music Man, The Trouble With Angels, and Where Angels Go Trouble Follows! and played Katie on Walt Disney Presents: Annette, Liz O'Neill on Make Room for Daddy, Ida Goff on Temple Houston, Melba Chegley on Julia, Aunt Zelda on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Nurse Beatrice Tully on Doc, and Marie on Father Dowling Mysteries) plays spinster Esther Cathcart. Forrest Lewis (Mr. Peavey on The Great Gildersleeve) plays pest control expert Mr. Prince.

Season 1, Episode 29, "The Party Line": Ron Howard (see "Dennis Haunts a House" above) returns as Dennis' friend Stewart. Gregory Walcott (shown on the left, starred in Badman's Country and Plan 9 From Outer Space and played Det. Roger Havilland on 87th Precinct) plays mover Floyd. Morgan Jones (Sgt. Corey on Highway Patrol, Cmdr. Donovan on The Blue Angels, Sgt. Charlie Phillips on Arrest and Trial, and Howard Pender on Mannix) plays mover Joe.

Season 1, Episode 30, "Dennis by Proxy": Willard Waterman (shown on the right, played Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve on The Great Gildersleeve and Mac Maginnis on The Real McCoys) plays grocer Mr. Quigley. Robert B. Williams (see "Dennis and the Starlings" above) returns as postman Mr. Dorfman. Ron Howard (see "Dennis Haunts a House" above) returns as Dennis' friend Stewart. Hugh Sanders (starred in That's My Boy, The Pride of St. Louis, The Winning Team, and The Wild One) plays shopper Mr. Sanderson. Stanley Fafara (Hubert "Whitey" Whitney on Leave It to Beaver) plays Dennis' stand-in Herbie.

Season 1, Episode 31, "Dennis Runs Away": Gil Smith (Steve Lindsay on Peter Loves Mary) plays Dennis' friend Joey. James T. Callahan (shown on the left, played Dr. Yates Atkinson on Dr. Kildare, Danny Adams on Wendy and Me, George Callison on The Governor and J.J., Sgt. Hal Grady on The Runaways, and Walter Powell on Charles in Charge) plays police Officer Holt. George Cisar (see "Dennis and the Rare Coin" above) returns as Sgt. Mooney.

Season 1, Episode 32, "Miss Cathcart's Sunsuit": Mary Wickes (see "Dennis and the Starlings" above) returns as spinster Esther Cathcart. Robert B. Williams (see "Dennis and the Starlings" above) returns as postman Mr. Dorfman. Cyril Delevanti (Lucious Coin on Jefferson Drum) plays store owner Mr. Gibson. Tyler McVey (Gen. Maj. Norgath on Men Into Space) plays landscaper Mr. Carlson.

Season 2, Episode 1, "Out of Retirement": Vinton Hayworth (Magistrado Carlos Galindo on Zorro, Oren Slauson on Lawman, Mr. Sutherland on Hazel, Dr. Faber on Green Acres, and Gen. Winfield Schaeffer on I Dream of Jeannie) plays Mr. Wilson's former boss Mr. Cramer. 

Season 2, Episode 2, "Dennis and the Wedding": Elinor Donahue (shown on the right, played Betty Anderson on Father Knows Best, Ellie Walker on The Andy Griffith Show, Joan Randall on Many Happy Returns, Miriam on The Odd Couple, Jane Mulligan on Mulligan's Stew, Susan Baxter on The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, Gladys Peterson on Get a Life, Rebecca Quinn on Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman, and Judge Marie Anderson on The Young and the Restless) plays the Wilsons' niece Georgianna Balanger. Don Spruance (shown on the left, played Dr. Robert Ward on Ben Casey) plays her fiancé Lt. Robert Lee Black. Morris Ankrum (starred in Rocketship X-M, Invaders From Mars, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, and The Giant Claw and played the judge 22 times on Perry Mason) plays the minister. Mary Wickes (see "Dennis and the Starlings" above) returns as spinster Esther Cathcart.

Season 2, Episode 3, "Dennis and the Radio Set": Ellen Corby (shown on the left, played Henrietta Porter on Trackdown and Esther Walton on The Waltons) plays lost money claimant Miss Douglass. Hal Smith (Charlie Henderson on I Married Joan, Hickey on Jefferson Drum, Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show, Engineer Taurus on Space Angel, and did voicework on The Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, The Fantastic Four, The Dukes, and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh) plays auctioneer Mr. Mooney. Charles Seel (see "Dennis Creates a Hero" above) returns as newspaper editor Mr. Krinkie. 

Season 2, Episode 5, "The Stock Certificate": Guy Raymond (Cliff Murdock on Harris Against the World and Mr. Peevey on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) plays the phone company warehouse attendant. Hal Hopper (Cpl. Clarke on The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin and composed theme music for Circus Boy, 26 Men, Colt .45, and Bearcats!) plays a phone book distributor. 

Season 2, Episode 6, "Man of the House": Alan Hewitt (shown on the right, starred in That Touch of Mink, Days of Wine and Roses, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and played Det. Bill Brennan on My Favorite Martian) plays dinnerware salesman Alistair St. Clair. Olive Carey (appeared in Trader Horn, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Billy the Kid vs. Dracula and played Elsie on Mr. Adams and Eve and Casey Halliman on Lock Up) plays cleaning woman Mrs. Rafferty. Mary Treen (appeared in Babbitt, Maid of Salem, Kitty Foyle ,and It's a Wonderful Life, and played Emily Dodger on Willy and Hilda on The Joey Bishop Show) plays St. Clair's hired cook. Jan Arvan (Nacho Torres on Zorro and Paw Kadiddlehopper on The Red Skelton Hour) plays St. Clair's hired waiter. 

Season 2, Episode 7, "The Rock Collection": Claire Carleton (Nell Mulligan on The Mickey Rooney Show and Alice Purdy on Cimarron City) plays property buyer Harriet Schubert. 

Season 2, Episode 9, "Paint-up, Clean-up Week": Paul Barselou (played various bartenders in 9 episodes of Bewitched) plays committee member Mr. Staley. George Cisar (see "Dennis and the Rare Coin" above) returns as Sgt. Mooney.

Season 2, Episode 10, "Dennis Learns to Whistle": Barry Gordon (shown on the left, played Dennis Whitehead on The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Charlie Harrison on Fish, Gary Rabinowitz on Archie Bunker's Place, Roger Hightower on A Family for Joe, and was the voice of Donatello on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) plays boys' Indian chief Buzzy Hanson. Bob Jellison (Waldo Binney on The Life of Riley and Bobby the Bellboy on I Love Lucy) plays a TV announcer. 

Season 2, Episode 11, "The Raffle Ticket": Lurene Tuttle (appeared in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Ma Barker's Killer Brood, Psycho, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, and The Fortune Cookie and played Doris Dunston on Father of the Bride and Hannah Yarby on Julia) plays raffle ticket buyer Mrs. Courtland. Harry Cheshire (Judge Ben Riley on Buffalo Bill, Jr. and Judge Traeger on Lawman) plays raffle MC Mr. Petry. 

Season 2, Episode 12, "The Christmas Horse": Ernest Truex (shown on the right, played Mr. Remmington on Mr. Peepers, Grandpa McHummer on Jamie, Jason McCauley on The Ann Sothern Show, and Pop on Pete and Gladys) plays Christmas tree salesman Mr. McGuire. Billy Hummert (Cornell Clayton on Margie) plays cattle pony recipient Johnny Fleming. Henry Beckman (Commander Paul Richards on Flash Gordon, Mulligan on I'm Dickens, He's Fenster, George Anderson on Peyton Place, Colonel Harrigan on McHale's Navy, Capt. Roland Frances Clancey on Here Come the Brides, Pat Harwell on Funny Face, Harry Mark on Bronk, and Alf Scully on Check It Out) plays his father. Irene Vernon (the first Louise Tate on Bewitched) plays his mother. Stuart Nisbet (the bartender on The Virginian) plays Margaret's father Mr. Wade.


  1. Church, dinner, going visiting and pleeease get us back home in time to watch the kid's Sunday line up, Lassie, Dennis the Menace and Walt Disney Wonderful World of Color. Life was good .

  2. The Dennis theme music (and Donna Reed's) were actually composed by Bill Loose for Capitol Records Hi-Q library of royalty-free production music credited to John Seely, who managed the library. The Dennis theme was used earlier in the Road Runner cartoon "Hook, Line and Stinker" when the musician union was on strike.

    1. Thanks for the input. I've updated the music section to reflect your remarks.