Facts about Jack Wild

Jack Wild died at 53 years old
Birthplace: Manchester, England
Best known as: The Artful Dodger in the 1968 film Oliver!



Jack Wild Biography

Jack Wild was still a teenager when he was nominated for an Academy Award for Oliver!, the 1968 film of the old Charles Dickens tale. Wild played the Artful Dodger, the puckish and top-hatted urchin pickpocket who takes Oliver Twist under his wing. The film won the Oscar for best picture, and Wild’s Oscar nomination made him a rising star at age 16.

Jack Wild went on to star in the oddly fantastical Saturday-morning series H.R. Pufnstuf and the spinoff movie Pufnstuf (1970, with Mama Cass Elliot). The PufnStuf stories became cult hits and may have brought Wild more fame in America than the Oscar nomination. He was briefly a teen heartthrob, even releasing a music album (Everything’s Coming Up Roses, 1971).

Jack Wild lost years of his later career to alcoholism, but he sobered up and returned to acting in the 1990s. Wild was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth in 2001, and a result his larynx (voice box) and tongue were surgically removed in 2004; the operation left him unable to speak. He died of the disease in 2006.

10 years after his death, in 2016, Wild’s wife released his autobiography, It’s a Dodger’s Life.

Extra credit

Jack Wild was married twice: to Gaynor Jones (from 1976 until their divorce in 1985) and to Claire Harding (from 2005 until his death the next year)… Jack Wild had a small role as one of Robin Hood‘s merry men in the 1991 Kevin Costner movie Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesH.R. Pufnstuf was created by Sid and Marty Krofft, who also produced the Saturday-morning shows Land of the Lost and Lidsville… In a 2005 interview with the BBC, Jack Wild said his cancer was caused by his previous habits: “What I learned very quickly was that my lifestyle had made me a walking time bomb. I was a heavy smoker and an even heavier drinker and apparently together they are a deadly mixture.”


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