Dennis the Menace

Dennis the Menace

Synopsis of TV Show


Dennis the Menace was the original mischievous television kid. Armed with a cowlick and a mischievous grin, he wreaked comedic havoc on CBS for four years.

Invented by cartoonist Hank Ketchum and based on his own son, Dennis the Menace was originally the star of his very own comic strip (where he still wreaks mischief today). In 1959, Dennis was brought to television in the form of child actor Jay North. Dennis was an energetic, enthusiastic kid who lived in the suburb of Hilldale. He wanted nothing more to be helpful to his family and especially his persnickety neighbor, Mr. Wilson.

The problem was, Dennis didn’t wait to for an opportunity to be helpful. He took the initiative and implemented his own ideas about being helpful. Every week, Dennis would unintentionally get himself in trouble, usually with the short-tempered Mr. Wilson, by doing something like contributing Mr. Wilson rare coin collection as a donation to the March of Dimes. Each episode would usually end with Dennis getting a lecture from his parents and realizing the error of his ways.

The lectures didn't stick. By the next week, Dennis would be back in hot water after doing something like digging up Mr. Wilson’s freshly-planted tulips to plant potatoes.

The cast remained pretty consistent throughout the show’s run except for the character of Mr. Wilson. Joseph Kearns, the original Mr. Wilson, died midway through the 1961-62 season. He was replaced with Mr. Wilson’s brother, John, who neatly filled the cranky man's shoes. The show continued with the new Mr. Wilson until September of 1963, when it went into two years of reruns on Saturday mornings.

Dennis the Menace continues to live on today through syndication. People still love the show because it’s like watching a secret childhood fantasy brought to life. You knew when you sat down to watch the show that Dennis would get away with murder (figuratively, of course—he wasn't that much of a menace), always getting off the hook with little more than a lecture because his heart was in the right place. At the same time, he’d manage to show the adults they weren’t always right just because they were older. In this way, the show is an enduring tribute to the free-thinking kid in us all.

Release History of Prime Time Show

10/4/59 - 9/22/63 CBS

TV Sub Categories


Television Network


Television Studio

Columbia Pictures Television, Screen Gems

TV Cast

Dennis Mitchell Jay North
Henry Mitchell Herbert Anderson
Alice Mitchell Gloria Henry
George Wilson (1959-62) Joseph Kearns
Martha Wilson (1959-62) Sylvia Field
Joey McDonald (1959-60) Gil Smith
Mrs. Lucy Elkins Irene Tedrow
Tommy Anderson Billy Booth
Margaret Wade Jeannie Russell
Mr. Quigley Willard Waterman
Miss Esther Cathcart (1959-61) Mary Wickes
Grandma Mitchell (1961) Kathleen Mulqueen
Sergeant Theodore Mooney (1961-63) George Cisar
Seymour (1962-63) Robert John Pittman
John Wilson (1962-63) Gale Gordon

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