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'Hel-lo, Mr. Wilson!' 'Dennis The Menace' makes DVD debut

March 22, 2011 | 10:38 am

Dennis Mitchell didn't mean to be bad. It just somehow worked out that way.

The title character of the classic TV series "Dennis The Menace" was actually a well-intentioned boy whose high energy and relentless curiousity always got him into trouble, particularly with his next-door neighbor, the grumpy Mr. Wilson.

After years of being only available on heavily -edited reruns and bootleg tapes, the first season of "Dennis The Menace, will make its official DVD debut March 29. The five-DVD set from Shout! Factory will contain all 32 original uncut episodes from 1959 and 1960 (the comedy ran for four years and ended in 1964). 

Included in the set are bonus features spotlighting new interviews with co-stars Gloria Henry and Jeannie Russell, who played Dennis' pesky neighbor Margaret. The series contained a lot of physical humor, typical of comedic TV fare in those days.

"I'm so glad the show is finally available," said Henry. "I remember everything about them. It's as if they just happened yesterday."Margaret and Dennis

Added Russell, "I know it hasn't been on the air for a long time, but lately there's been this steady stream of fan mail from Europe, so I guess it's on there somewhere. Somehow this show is still beloved."

Based on the comic strip by Hank Ketchem, the show starred Jay North as Dennis, Herbert Anderson as Henry Mitchell and Henry as Alice Mitchell. Joseph Kernes played Mr. Wilson, the frequent victim of Dennis.

Though North, who did not participate in the DVD release, went on to do other TV shows ("Maya") and movies ("Zebra In The Kitchen") after the show ended, his career never matched the height of his "Dennis The Menace" phase. He left acting and is reportedly a corrections officer in Lake Butler, Fla. 

Henry, who said she still keeps in touch with North, remembered him as "this typical little guy who didn't have much of a chance to be a little boy. His uncle and aunt kept him in his dressing room, going over lines."

Russell, a chiropractor near Universal Studios, also recalled North as "this very sweet and senstive boy. He really liked me."

Henry noted that the character of Dennis evolved during the course of the series: "In the beginning he was very naughtly, and then he was changed to being not so naughtly."

Both actresses said working on the show was a pleasure. Said Henry: "It was like I had another family. Everyone really adored each other."

— Greg Braxton

Top photo: Herbert Anderson, left, Jay North and Gloria Henry in "Dennis The Menace."

Bottom: North and Jeannie Russell.