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Thread: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies


    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...066814,00.html
    Jack Wild
    September 30, 1952 - March 1, 2006
    Actor who shot to fame as the Artful Dodger in Oliver!, then paid the price child celebrity often brings
    JACK WILD had a truly meteoric career. A natural exhibitionist, he was discovered by an agent while playing football in a public park, entered showbiz at 11 and won an Oscar nomination at 16 for his memorably lively performance as the Artful Dodger in the musical Oliver! A teenage millionaire, he was féted by the major American entertainment companies and signed million-dollar contracts for a TV show and for records. For a while he was a staple feature of the teen magazines. But his fall was as swift as his rise.

    The cheeky young lad, with the sparkling eyes and turned-up nose, was into his twenties and growing too old for juvenile roles. He was drinking heavily, his career collapsed and he virtually disappeared for many years.

    After successfully fighting alcoholism, he made a modest comeback, working mainly on stage, though he played Much, the miller’s son, in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), with Kevin Costner. He became involved in A Minor Consideration, an American charity offering advice and support to child actors and he wrote an eloquent article cautioning about the pitfalls of early fame and fortune when Daniel Radcliffe was cast in the first Harry Potter film in 2000.

    The following year Wild was diagnosed with oral cancer and in 2004 he had his voicebox and tongue removed. Nevertheless he continued working. He was due to appear in Cinderella at the Swan Theatre in Worcester and had the part of Baron Hardup rewritten to exploit his abilities at mime.

    Born in Royton, Lancashire, in 1952, he was the son of two millworkers. In 1960 the family moved to London, where Wild’s father worked as a labourer and his mother as a butcher. Wild was spotted by the talent agent June Collins, playing football with her son Phil. Another child actor, Phil Collins, played the Artful Dodger on stage and later became even more famous as an international pop star.

    Wild’s family made financial sacrifices to send their son to the Barbara Speake Stage School, but before long he was getting work on a wide variety of television shows, including the Sid James sitcom George and the Dragon, Z Cars and The Wednesday Play. He had a leading role in the Children’s Film Foundation serial Danny the Dragon (1967), with Sally Thomsett, and Peter Butterworth voicing the dragon.

    Oliver!, Lionel Bart’s colourful musical adaptation of Oliver Twist, had opened in the West End in 1960, was to run for 2,618 performances and provided regular employment for hundreds of child actors. On stage Wild played Charlie Bates, one of Fagin’s boys.

    When Carol Reed turned the show into a film in 1968, Wild was cast as the Artful Dodger, with Mark Lester, who was six years his junior, as Oliver; Ron Moody reprising his stage role of Fagin; and the director’s nephew Oliver as Bill Sykes. A notorious hellraiser, Oliver Reed was not the best role-model for impressionable young actors.

    Wild sang several songs in the show, including You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two, Consider Yourself and I’d Do Anything. Although Wild was playing one of the oldest boys, he was so short that he had to have raised platforms on his shoes. His performance was full of natural wit, charm and charisma, without the sentimentality that infects the work of so many Hollywood child actors.

    The film was a major hit, grossing $40 million worldwide. It won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 1969 Academy Awards and Wild was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

    Elevated to the status of teen idol, Wild signed up to star in his own American TV series H. R. Pufnstuf (1969-70). He played an English boy, with a talking flute, who is marooned on a magic island inhabited by an array of weird creatures, including the friendly dragon of the title. It was variously described as “campy”, “crypto-druggie” and “dark and frightening”. There was also a spin-off feature film. Wild also signed up with Capitol Records and released The Jack Wild Album in 1969. There were two further albums on the Buddha label.

    “At an age when most youngsters are preparing for their GCSEs, I was suddenly a jet-setter, briefly the toast of Hollywood and London’s West End,” he said in the article he wrote for A Minor Consideration. “My immature wishes and naive opinions were treated with respect. It was all so flattering and seductive that if you were not careful, you came to believe that you really deserved instant superstar treatment.

    “That was part of my problem. That, and an addictive craving for booze, which was to do me and my family so much harm . . . I can remember going to parties where the ‘nibbles’ were great bowls of LSD, marijuana, cocaine, uppers and downers. I remember my jaw dropping when I saw for the first time the stunningly sexy young ladies who were hanging on my every word.

    “As an inexperienced teenager from Hounslow, West London, it took me some time to realise that these charming creatures were professional hookers, there only to flatter and to do anything I wanted. In fact, I was a traditional working-class lad and I stuck to the booze. But down the years I paid a heavy price.”

    Back in Europe he was reunited with Lester on Melody (1971), a teenage romantic comedy, written by Alan Parker, and with Ron Moody on Flight of the Doves (1971), with Moody as a wicked uncle who pursues Wild’s character and his sister across Ireland. He co-starred with the pop star Donovan in The Pied Piper (1972), playing Gavin, the crippled boy, and made a cameo appearance in the popular BBC series The Onedin Line (1972).

    But he was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with fame, fortune and the fickle nature of the two. Suddenly leading roles proved almost impossible to secure and he became increasingly dependent on alcohol. Dickens, the source of his greatest triumph, provided him with some relief in 1976 when he played Charley Hexam in a BBC adaptation of Our Mutual Friend.

    By his own admission much of the 1970s and 1980s passed by in a drunken haze, which ultimately cost him both his marriage and his career, though he did play the Mock Turtle in 1982 in a Polish musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland that also involved Lulu, Paul Nicholas and Susannah York.

    He managed to sort out his alcohol problems and pick up the pieces of his acting career in the 1990s. Although his days as a teen idol were long gone, he found work in theatre, television and films, both in the UK and US.

    He began a long-term relationship with the actress Claire Harding. His drinking and heavy smoking had taken a toll on his health and his appearance. He developed mouth cancer, which they may have caused.

    Only the ghost of the Artful Dodger could be detected in his features, but he continued working, campaigned to raise awareness of the disease and was working on his autobiography. Recently he played a small, supporting role in the film Mousakka and Chips (2005), with his Oliver! co-star Ron Moody. He and Harding married last September.

    Jack Wild, actor, was born on September 30, 1952. He died of oral cancer on March 1, 2006, aged 53.
    This one's for Kitty

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    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    "I've got, you've got, everybody do got someone who cares
    by the name of H.R. Pufnstuf
    who's your friend when things get rough
    H.R. Pufnstuf
    Can't do a little 'cause you can't do enough."

    G'bye Jimmy

    Burn down the disco. Hang the blessed DJ. Because the music that he constantly plays, it says nothing to me about my life.

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    Member TeamCasey's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    I could not get anyone to remember PufNStuf yesterday. I felt old.

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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    Two words:

    AS-COT

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    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    Quote Originally Posted by TeamCasey
    I could not get anyone to remember PufNStuf yesterday. I felt old.
    Some of my earliest TV memories are of H.R. Pufnstuf. I was really young, but I had a brother who was two years older than myself. He was into the Pufnstuf thing and I tended to do what he did!

    When I think of H.R. Pufnstuf, it also makes me think of other kid shows at that time, like (and I am curious if others remember these): Batty Hatty from Cincinnati (puppet show done locally in Cincy), Cincy's Uncle Al (of course) and Captain Kangaroo.
    Small market fan... always hoping, but never expecting.

  7. #6
    I can do the Hully Gully IowaRed's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    I grew up watching HR Pufnstuf and Sigmund and the Sea Monster. Witchiepoo scared the heck out of me. That Krofft stuff was a lot of fun
    More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

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    Waiting for a tour/album KittyDuran's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    Batty Hatty from Cincinnati (puppet show done locally in Cincy)
    That would be Larry Smith & His Puppets and it was on WXIX (Channel 19) around 4-4:30pm, IIRC. There was also Skipper Ryle on WKRC (Channel 12) in the early morning before the Captain (Skipper was actually the weatherman on the station, IIRC his first name was Glenn).

    BTW I was crazy about Ultraman at the time - also on WXIX.
    Last edited by KittyDuran; 03-03-2006 at 09:37 AM.
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    Waiting for a tour/album KittyDuran's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    Quote Originally Posted by IowaRed
    I grew up watching HR Pufnstuf and Sigmund and the Sea Monster. Witchiepoo scared the heck out of me. That Krofft stuff was a lot of fun
    One of the episodes that I really remember was the one where Witchiepoo goes to a witches convention and one of the head witches was Mama Cass - who sang (can't remember the song, tho').
    2014 Reds record when I'm attending: 20-16
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    I can do the Hully Gully IowaRed's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    Quote Originally Posted by KittyDuran
    One of the episodes that I really remember was the one where Witchiepoo goes to a witches convention and one of the head witches was Mama Cass - who sang (can't remember the song, tho').
    it might be here

    http://krofft.dementedstuff.com/pufnstuf.htm
    More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    I have no idea what you're all talking about, but man was he rad in Oliver. I had tentative plans to marry him as a little kid and was very crushed when I learned that the movie was old and in real life he was an old guy.

    He was a terrific little actor in it though. The Artful Dodger, what a great character, a total louse that Jack Wild managed to make seem loveable and redeemable. Come to think of it, I have Jack Wild to blame for a lot in my life. Or is it Dickens? No, Jack Wild was the cute one.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    I have no idea what you're all talking about,
    The swinging early 70's... a time for LSD inspired stuff like Lidsville and the Buggaboos

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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    The swinging early 70's... a time for LSD inspired stuff like Lidsville and the Buggaboos
    What are they though? Witchiepoo?!?

    Are these things the predecessors to the Teletubbies? I always thought the Teletubbies were severly drug-induced creations. And have you people seen the Veggietales? They are CHRISTIAN VEGETABLES and they have drugs written all over them.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

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    Waiting for a tour/album KittyDuran's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    Quote Originally Posted by IowaRed
    Thanks! So it was in a movie, not an episode...
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    What's kind of funny about the Krofft shows is that they all but vanished from television after 1975--not to be seen again until the kitsch-obsessed mid-late 90s. So if you weren't born within about a 7-8 year window of time, chances are you don't remember the immortal Lidsville or Pufnstuf--or the indefatigable Cha-ka.

    It was like the culture wanted to exorcise the post-acid frazzle. One day, those shows just vanished, it seems. I guess Land of the Lost was the final straw.

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    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Flute Loses Owner - Jack Wild Dies

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    The swinging early 70's... a time for LSD inspired stuff like Lidsville and the Buggaboos
    The Bugaloos...in the air and everywhere.

    Anyone remember the Sid and Marty Krofft Power Hour, with Wonderbug, Dr. Shrinker, and Electra Woman and Dynagirl? How about the Lost Space Nuts?
    Burn down the disco. Hang the blessed DJ. Because the music that he constantly plays, it says nothing to me about my life.


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