Jack Wild: Wikis


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Jack Wild

Wild as "The Artful Dodger" in Oliver!
Born Jack Wild
30 September 1952(1952-09-30)
Royton, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Died 1 March 2006 (aged 53)
Tebworth, Bedfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Years active 1964-2005
Spouse(s) Gaynor Jones (1976 - 1985)
Claire Harding (2005 - 2006)

Jack Wild (30 September 1952 – 1 March 2006) was a British actor who achieved fame for his roles in both stage and screen productions of the Lionel Bart musical Oliver! with Ron Moody, Shani Wallis and Oliver Reed. For the latter performance (playing the Artful Dodger), he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the age of 16. Jack Wild appeared with actor Mark Lester in two films: Oliver! (1968) and Melody (1971).[1]


Early life

Wild was born into a working-class family in Royton, Lancashire, to a laborer father and a mother who worked as a butcher.[2] Wild moved to Hounslow, West London, with his parents during his childhood.[3] He was discovered whilst playing football, by June, mother of Genesis member Phil Collins.[4] He was asked if he wanted a job, and told her he already had one, that he worked for the milkman. He was educated at the independent Barbara Speake Stage School in Acton, London, and had to supplement his parents' modest incomes by working on a stage production of Oliver!, in order to pay his school fees.

It was at the premiere of the 1968 film version of Oliver! that he met brothers Sid and Marty Krofft, who thought Wild would make a good lead for a show they were developing called H.R. Pufnstuf. Wild starred in this American family TV series that launched in 1969, and he was paid $1,000,000 to play 'Jimmy', a boy washed up on 'Living Island' (a magic island) with his best friend Freddy, a talking flute.[5] He was also in the movie Pufnstuf.[1] As well as embarking on a recording career, cutting one album for Capitol Records and two for Buddah Records in the early 1970s, the three albums were called 'The Jack Wild Album', 'Everythings Coming Up Roses' and 'Beautiful World'.[6] On top of this he became a favourite for teen magazines of the times and was often featured in interviews, articles and pull-out-posters.

Wild had an older brother named Arthur, who was also an actor and appeared in the London stage version of Oliver!. Arthur Wild died in September 2000.[7]


Like many child stars, Wild struggled to make the transition to adult stardom, and by 1976 his film career was over. He had begun drinking and smoking regularly at the age of twelve. His alcoholism ruined both his career and his marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Gaynor Jones who left him in 1985 due to his excessive drinking.[8] For a few years Wild, having blown his fortune, was forced to live with his retired father. His alcoholism caused three near-fatal cardiac arrests and resulted in several spells in hospital until he finally stopped drinking in 1989.[3]

Career restarts

Wild went into rehab in 1988 and gave up drinking on 6 March 1989 after joining Alcoholics Victorious. He returned to the big screen in a few minor roles, such as in the 1991 Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He was also reported to be developing a TV situation comedy with Suzi Quatro around the same time, but those plans never materialized into an actual series. For the most part, Wild spent the remainder of his career working in theatre.


Wild died on 1 March 2006, aged 53, after a long battle with oral cancer, which he believed was caused by his alcoholism and smoking.[1][9] Diagnosed with the disease in 2000, he initially underwent chemotherapy, but later had part of his tongue and both vocal cords removed in July 2004.[1] Because of this surgery, he had lost his speech and had to communicate through his wife, Claire Harding, whom he met when they were appearing in Jack and the Beanstalk in Worthing.[1] He is buried in Toddington Parish Cemetery.[10]


  • Danny the Dragon (1967)
  • Oliver! (1968)
  • H.R. Pufnstuf 1969-1971
  • Pufnstuf aka Pufnstuf Zaps the World (1970)
  • Melody (1971)
  • Flight of the Doves (1971)
  • Caterpiller Taxis (1972)
  • The Pied Piper (1972)
  • The Wild Little Bunch (1972)
  • The Fourteen (UK) aka Existence (1973 film) (USA) and The Wild Little Bunch (USA) (1973)
  • Keep It Up Downstairs (1976)
  • Alice (1981)
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
  • Basil (1998)
  • Moussaka & Chips (2005)

See also


External links

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