Jack Wild


Jack Wild (30 September 1952 – 1 March 2006) was an English actor and singer. He is best known for his roles as the
Artful Dodger Jack Dawkins, better known as the Artful Dodger, is a character in Charles Dickens Charles John Huffam Dickens (; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fict ...
in the film ''
Oliver! ''Oliver!'' is a British coming-of-age Coming of age is a young person's transition from being a child to being an adult. It continues through adolescence. The specific age at which this transition takes place varies between societies, a ...
'' (1968), for which he received an
Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry The film industry or motion picture industry comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking, i.e., f ...

Academy Award
nomination for
Best Supporting ActorBest Supporting Actor may refer any one of many different awards, including: * AACTA International Award for Best Supporting Actor * AVN Award for Best Supporting Actor * Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor * Black Reel Award: Best Supporting Ac ...
at the age of 16, becoming the fourth-youngest nominee in the category. He also received British Academy Film Awards, BAFTA Award and Golden Globe Awards, Golden Globe Award nominations for the role. Wild also appeared in the television series ''H.R. Pufnstuf'' (1969) and its film adaptation ''Pufnstuf (film), Pufnstuf'' (1970), as well as in the films ''Melody (1971 film), Melody'' (1971) and ''Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves'' (1991).

Early life and education

Wild was born into a working-class family in Royton, Lancashire, on 30 September 1952. In 1960, at the age of eight, with his parents and his elder brother Arthur, he moved to Hounslow, in Middlesex, where he got a job helping the milkman, which paid about five shilling (British coin), shillings. While playing football with his brother in the park, he was discovered by theatrical agent June Collins, mother of Phil Collins. June Collins enrolled both Jack and Arthur at the Barbara Speake Stage School, an independent school in Acton, London, Acton, west London.

Acting career


The Wild brothers sought acting roles to supplement their parents' income. In the autumn of 1964 the pair were cast in the West End theatre production of Lionel Bart's ''Oliver!'' – Arthur in the title role and Jack as Charley Bates, a member of Fagin's gang. Wild was chosen to play the Artful Dodger for the 1968 movie version of ''Oliver!'' His performance received critical acclaim and several nominations: *Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – nominated at the 41st Academy Awards *Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor, Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer – nominated at 26th Golden Globe Awards *BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer, BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer – nominated at 22nd British Academy Film Awards

TV work

In the spring of 1966, Wild left the stage show of ''Oliver!'' to make the film serial ''Danny the Dragon'' for the Children's Film Foundation. Wild's first speaking roles on TV were in an episode of ''Out of the Unknown'', and in the third part of the BBC's version of the 'Wesker trilogy', ''I'm Talking About Jerusalem''. He also appeared in episodes of ''Z-Cars'', ''The Newcomers (TV series), The Newcomers'' and ''George and the Dragon (TV series), George and the Dragon''.

After ''Oliver!''

At the 1968 premiere of ''Oliver!'', Wild met brothers Sid and Marty Krofft, who thought he would make a good lead for a show they were developing called ''H.R. Pufnstuf''. Wild starred as Jimmy in Pufnstuf's only season (1969) as well as in ''H.R. Pufnstuf'' segments in the second (and final) season of ''The Banana Splits, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour'' and in the film ''Pufnstuf (film), Pufnstuf'' (1970) which was released shortly after the show was cancelled. Wild then appeared in ''Melody (1971 film), Melody'' (1971, with ''Oliver!'' co-star Mark Lester) and ''Flight of the Doves'' (1971, with another ''Oliver!'' co-star Ron Moody). In 1972, Wild appeared as a stowaway in an episode of BBC TV's ''The Onedin Line''. In 1973, he played Reg in ''The 14'', a film directed by David Hemmings. On television, Wild appeared in Our Mutual Friend (1976 TV serial), a BBC adaptation of ''Our Mutual Friend'' in 1976. During the early 1970s, Wild was considered a teen heartthrob, alongside David Cassidy and Barry Williams (actor), Barry Williams. In 1999, Wild lamented,
"When I first entered in the show business, of course I didn't mind playing younger roles. However it did bug me when I would be twenty-one being offered the role of a thirteen-year-old. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy playing these roles; I had barrels of fun, I just wanted more serious and dramatic roles; it's that simple."
He also embarked on a recording career, releasing ''The Jack Wild Album'' for Capitol Records which contained the single "Some Beautiful". In the early 1970s, Wild also released the albums ''Everything's Coming Up Roses'' and ''Beautiful World'' for Buddah Records.

Later career

He returned to the big screen in a few minor roles, such as in the 1991 Kevin Costner film ''Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves'' and as a peddler in ''Basil (film), Basil'' (1998). For the most part, he spent the remainder of his career working in theatre. His last major appearance was as the male lead, "Mouse", in Tayla Goodman's rock musical ''Virus''. The show ran for two weeks at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, Theatre Royal, Nottingham, in 1999. For his final film appearance he had a minor role in ''Moussaka & Chips'' (2005), in which he once again worked with Ron Moody.

Personal life

Wild first met Welsh-born actress Gaynor Jones when they were around 12 years old at the Barbara Speake stage school. After he left in 1966, he did not see her again until Christmas of 1970. They married on 14 February 1976. She left him in 1985 because of his chronic drinking. He met his second wife, Claire L. Harding, when he was working with her in ''Jack and the Beanstalk'' in Worthing. They married in Bedford in September 2005. In 2001, Wild was diagnosed with oral cancer, blaming the disease on his drinking and smoking habits. He underwent chemotherapy immediately, and had his tongue and Larynx, voice box removed in July 2004, leaving him unable to speak. Wild had to communicate through his wife Claire for the rest of his life.


By 1973, aged 21, Wild was an alcoholic. After exhausting his remaining fortune, he lived with his retired father for a few years. His alcoholism caused three cardiac arrests and resulted in numerous hospital stays. He was diagnosed with diabetes on 14 March 1983. His alcoholism ruined both his career and marriage to Gaynor Jones, who left him in 1985 because of his drinking. During the mid-1980s, he often drank three to four bottles of vodka a week; he typically drank half a bottle of vodka and two bottles of wine every day. He later admitted his alcoholism was so debilitating that he was incapable of performing any kind of work. Wild eventually became sober on 6 March 1989, after joining the support group, ''Alcoholics Victorious''.

Death and legacy

Wild died just before midnight on 1 March 2006, following a long battle with oral cancer. He is buried in Toddington, Bedfordshire, Toddington Parish Cemetery, Bedfordshire. He had been unable to speak for the last two years of his life following the operation in which his vocal cords and part of his tongue were removed. At the time of his death, he and his wife, Claire, had been working on his autobiography. She said: "All the material was there when Jack died, it just needed rearranging, editing, and, in certain sections, writing out from transcripts Jack and I made as we recorded him talking about his life." The book, ''It's a Dodger's Life'', was published in 2016 with a foreword by ''Pufnstuf'' co-star Billie Hayes, an afterword by Clive Francis, and an epilogue by Wild's wife.




* ''The Jack Wild Album'' (1970) :A1 "Sugar and Spice" :A2 "Early in the Morning (Vanity Fare song), Early in the Morning" :A3 "Fish And Chips" :A4 "Some Beautiful" :A5 "A Picture of You (Joe Brown song), A Picture of You" :B1 "Wait For Summer" :B2 "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" :B3 "Melody" :B4 "When I'm Sixty-Four" :B5 "Lazy Sunday (Small Faces song), Lazy Sunday" * ''Everything's Coming Up Roses'' (1971) :A1 "(Holy Moses!) Everything's Coming Up Roses" :A2 "The Pushbike Song" :A3 "Cotton Candy" :A4 "Bring Yourself Back To Me" :A5 "Hello (Jack)" :B1 "The Old Man Song (Na Na Na Na)" :B2 "Apeman (song), Apeman" :B3 "Takin' It Easy" :B4 "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" :B5 "What Have They Done to My Song Ma" * ''A Beautiful World'' (1972) :A1 "A Beautiful World" :A2 "Punch and Judy" :A3 "Sweet Sweet Lovin'" :A4 "Bird in the Hand" :A5 "The Lord" :B1 "Beggar Boy" :B2 "Songs of Freedom" :B3 "Being With You" :B4 "E.O.I.O." :B5 "Bunny Bunny"


See also

* List of British actors *List of oldest and youngest Academy Award winners and nominees#Youngest nominees 4, List of oldest and youngest Academy Award winners and nominees – Youngest nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role *List of British Academy Award nominees and winners *List of actors with Academy Award nominations



* Wild, Jack. ''Autobiography: It's A Dodger's Life'', Fantom Films 2016. Hardback edition * Holmstrom, John. ''The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995'', Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, p. 296. * Dye, David. ''Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985''. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 239.

External links

Jack Wild Official Website

Jack Wild
at the British Film Institute * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Wild, Jack 1952 births 2006 deaths Deaths from cancer in England Deaths from oral cancer English male child actors English male film actors English male television actors People from Royton Male actors from Manchester 20th-century English male actors People educated at Barbara Speake Stage School