About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Jay North

Jay North was a very popular child actor in the late 1950s and 60s appearing on many TV shows. Most people remember Jay North in the title role of the TV series Dennis the Menace. The three Christmas episodes of that TV series easily recapture the excitement and wonder of childhood seen through the eyes of that curious and mischievous boy, Dennis. The holiday episodes include:

1959's "The Christmas Story"
1960's "The Christmas Horse"
1961's "The Fifteen Foot Christmas Tree"

At the end of each of these Christmas stories, it was a TV tradition to have Jay North as Dennis sweetly sing an off-key version of 'Silent Night.' His parents as well as the neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Wilson usually sing the second chorus with him. Despite Dennis' earlier trouble-making or maybe because of it, this moment is always a tender reminder of the joy of youth and Christmas.

All three of these Christmas episodes are currently available to watch on Youtube. Here are the first parts:

"The Christmas Story"

"The Christmas Horse"

"The Fifteen Foot Christmas Tree"

However, my favorite Jay North Christmas TV moment is his guest appearance on the 1958 episode "Eight Cent Reward" on the Western TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive which starred Steve McQueen. Yeah--THAT Steve McQueen. Jay North plays little Laddie the boy who hires bounty hunter Josh Randall to track down Santa Claus for him. I love how Randall cannot say no to the little boy so desperate to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas. Let me know what you think of it!

"Eight Cent Reward"

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