'Dennis the Menace' star Jay North: Then and Now

Sometimes, the happiest Hollywood ending is one that doesn't involve Hollywood at all.

Such is the case with Jay North, whose face became one of the most recognizable in America when he landed his starring role in "Dennis the Menace." North was just six years old when he brought the iconic cartoon character to life in the CBS sitcom, which ran from 1959 to 1963.

After the show ended, North faced difficulty getting casting directors to visualize him in roles other than little Dennis: "Into my teen years, early twenties, the industry pretty much shut its doors on me ... It was what it was," North said in a 2017 interview with the Washington Times. That said, he added, "It's nice to be remembered for something as wonderful as that little boy."

Jay North through the years
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Jay North through the years
THE DONNA REED SHOW - 'Donna Decorates' - Airdate: September 29, 1960. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) JAY NORTH
Star of the television show Dennis the Menace with his cartoon self.
Joseph Kearns (1907-1962), US actor, Gloria Henry, US actress, Jay North, US actor, and Herbert Anderson (1917-1994), US actor, pose as a group of carol singers in a portrait issued as publicity for the US television series, 'Dennis the Menace', USA, circa 1960. The sitcom starred Kearns as 'George Wilson', Henry as 'Alice Mitchell', North as 'Dennis Mitchell', and Anderson as 'Henry Mitchell'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - CIRCA 1961: Mexican actor Cantinflas poses with Jo Morrow and actor Jay North in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
JAN 6 1964; TV Stars Conduct Leukemia Telethon; Television personalities Lorne Greene of Bonanza and Jay North of Dennis the Menace listen as Deryn Price of 1180 S. Zenozia St., volunteer worker, receives a call during the leukemia telethon held Saturday and Sunday. Residents of Colorado and Wyoming pledged $57,000 during the telethon held on KCTO, Channel 2, and broadcast from the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Ronald Ferguson, midwest director of the Leukemia Society, said a house-to-house campaign will also be conducted. Goal of the drive is $100,000.; (Photo By Duane Howell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Jay North in a scene from the film 'Maya', 1966. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
November 1966: American child actor Jay North smiles while standing next to his mother at a Santa Claus Lane parade, Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Max B. Miller/Fotos International/Getty Images)
Jay North, circa 1968. (Photo by Getty Images)
THE DATING GAME - Show Coverage - Airdate: April 1, 1969. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) HOST JIM LANGE (L) WITH JAY NORTH AND CONTESTANT
GENERAL HOSPITAL - Airdate: September 2, 1982. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) L-R: ANTHONY GEARY;JAY NORTH
374901 01: 4/17/99 Los Angeles, CA. 'Dennis The Menace' TV star Jay North holding a Dennis puppet celebrates its 50th anniversary of the cartoon strip at the Every Picture Tells A Story art gallery. Photo David Keeler/Online USA, Inc.
PARSIPPANY, NJ - APRIL 26: Jay North and Jeannie Russell from 'Dennis the Menace' attends the 2013 Chiller Theatre Expo at Sheraton Parsippany Hotel on April 26, 2013 in Parsippany, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)

But after he retreated from the world of Hollywood, North found meaning in family and a different vocation. He wed Cindy Hackney in 1993, becoming a stepdad to her three daughters, and he was in the military before working in the health food industry. He then made another big change: "For the past 20 years I've worked as a correctional officer for the Florida Department of Corrections," he told the Times.

North also noted that he gets together with his "Dennis the Menace" co-stars once or twice a year, and they absolutely love meeting fans of the show.

He's kept most of his adult life private, but in 1999, a statement North made to E! News said it all: "I'm going to write my autobiography and then I'm just going to live a contented, happy life here in Lake Butler with the people I love, and kind of just vanish into the mists of time."

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