Dennis the Menace actor Jay North made his debut as a boy with a Christmas wish in Wanted Dead or Alive

A year before he began menacing Mr. Wilson, Jay North hired Josh Randall for a special assignment.

It didn’t take long for Wanted Dead or Alive to make a Christmas episode. “Eight Cent Reward” came halfway through the first season, originally airing in December, 1958.

The episode’s title refers to the life savings a young boy is willing to give bounty hunter Josh Randall if he can locate Santa Claus.

Steve McQueen’s Randall is moved by the request, and being the professional he is, decides to take the kid up on it. The young boy, who goes by Laddie, desperately needs to ask Santa for a gift he’s been hoping to receive for years. Laddie won’t say what the special present is, saving his request only for Mr. Claus.

It’s a change of pace from the grittiness of most Wanted episodes but still perfectly showcases Josh’s dedication and virtue.

The sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking performance given by the young actor playing Laddie also helps this episode stand out. A seven-year-old newcomer named Jay North embodied the little farmer’s son. It was his first credited role on television.

Classic TV fans no doubt recognize North as Dennis Mitchell from the series Dennis the Menace, based on the popular comic strip.

North played the slingshot-wielding youngster for four seasons starting the year after making his debut alongside Steve McQueen. Five-year-old Ronny Howard also appeared in six episodes of Dennis the Menace before playing Opie Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show.

“Eight Cent Reward” also features character actor Lloyd Corrigan as a drunk who gamely pretends to be Santa Claus when Josh Randall doesn’t know what else to do. Corrigan reunited with Jay North in the Dennis the Menace episode “Junior Pathfinders Ride Again.” Corrigan’s outing as an Old West Santa wasn’t the last Christmas episode he would be in, either. Far from it.

He appeared in three festive episodes of Lassie. In “Yochim’s Christmas,” he guest starred with Grandma Walton Ellen Corby and in the two-part “Lassie’s Gift of Love” Corrigan played a mysterious toy repairman traveling by donkey wagon.  

Though “Eight Cent Reward” is a different than most episodes of Wanted Dead or Alive, it’s still a great watch and a perfect Western take on a holiday story.

Watch Wanted Dead or Alive on MeTV!

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Susan00100 13 hours ago
My favorite Christmas movies are A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1950, with AlistaIr Sim as Scrooge) and TRHE BISHOP'S WIFE (1948, starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven).
My favorite Christmas cartoons are "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "A Charlie Brown Christmas", and "The Night Before Christmas" (with Tom & Jerry).
Susan00100 14 hours ago
I remember seeing that episode long ago--after Jay North achieved stardom.
The actor who played the fake Santa was Percy Helton, a veteran of many TV shows.
The ending was terrific; when the boy received the gift he wanted, it was implied that the real Santa Claus brought it.
VanHalen 5 days ago
I suspected as much when I saw that episode w/ him in it.
Legend is that he was a bast - - - to work with. That may be
why he did not get much work.
texasluva 9 days ago
Zebra in the Kitchen was on this morning on TCM. I had never seen it so watched part of it. The kid (Jay North) lived out in the country and had a pet Mountain Lion. Parents forced to move into the city and of course can not bring the Mountain Lion along. He sneaks it hidden and of course when everyone finds out he has to let the zoo take it. Then the zoo keepers just let him in the cage with the ML to pet it and feed it. Like this would ever happen in real life, come on. He ends up stealing the keys from (Andy Devine) and of course lets ALL the animals out (lions, tigers, elephants and so forth). Of course the city people are frantic and the zoo keeper (Martin Milner) has to collect them before the police start shooting them. Also the city council is a joke and wants to fire Milner and could care less about the animals or the conditions they are living in. Failure to pass things that would help the zoo and animals live in a better zoo environment. ** out of 5. Unlike Dennis The Menace it does not hold up very well. Though it was nice to see Jay North again (1965)
Michael texasluva 6 days ago
It was kind of a fun movie, I knew about it, but only saw it in the last year or so.

When they're moving, they load up the truck and Jay and the dog (and the lion) sit at the back of the truck, ready to fall off. And they were going hundreds of miles. That seemed like a stretch.
Andybandit 9 days ago
Jay North was a cute boy. Wanted dead or alive was my favorite Western. I wish it had more episodes.

VanHalen Andybandit 5 days ago
The 'legend' IS that he was a little bast - - - to work with.
Susan00100 VanHalen 14 hours ago
That's why it's a "legend".
Jay North was kept on a VERY tight leash by his aunt, who (almost literally) "bought" him from his parents.
One time on the DtM set, when he flubbed a line, she slapped him--hard!
I don't know how long it took for him to finally be free of her.
Michael 9 days ago
Jay North is in "The Zebra in the Kitchen", aand TCM is airing ut Wednesday morning. Followed by Flipper's New Adventure. An Ivan Tor double bill.

In 2007, there was "A Dennis the Menace Christmas". AMC is airing it this season. Robert Wagner pkays grumpy Mr. Wilson.
Susan00100 Michael 14 hours ago
Quite a change from his matinee-idol days, eh?
MrsPhilHarris 9 days ago
I will watch pretty much any Christmas episode of a show (unless I can’t stand the show) and I have seen this one a couple of times. It’s a nice, sweet story.
Zip 9 days ago
I was surprised to see "Dennis The Menace" on an episode of one of my favorite Westerns, Wanted: Dead or Alive. And even though I first thought it was kind of a silly plot for the show, it actually turned out quite good.
bagandwallyfan52 9 days ago
I enjoyed this article about
Jay North playing a boy named
LADDIE on a Christmas Episode
Of Wanted Dead Or Alive.
I hope that RERUNS of DENNIS
THE MENACE can be added to
METVs schedule sometime in
The in the near future.
I would.also like to see Alice
Lone Ranger The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet I Love Lucy
Dobie Gillis Early Edition And
Mr.Ed added to The schedule of
METV .Does anyone know if the
Movie called The Blob with
Steve McQueen has ever been
Played on Svengoolie?????
Yes Svengoolie has shown The Blob several times.
Dave, Doc Hallen's been killed. 😯
- Doc Hallen? What happened? - You gotta come now! 😧
Wait a minute, Steve. Tell us what happened. 😯
I'm trying to tell you. Now this thing, it killed the doc 😳
.
Love that clip!
Dennis the Menace with Jay North currently airs weekday mornings at 10AM on Antenna TV.
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