Jack Wild (30 September, 1952 – 2 March, 2006) was a British actor, born in Royton, Lancashire, England, who achieved fame for his roles in both stage and screen productions of the Lionel Bart musical Oliver!. For the latter performance (playing the Artful Dodger), he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the age of 16, but the Oscar went to Jack Albertson for his performance in The Subject was Roses.
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 also in the spin-off movie. He also embarked on a recording career, cutting one album for Capitol Records and two for Buddah Records in the early 1970s.
Excessive drinking at an early age derailed Wild's career. Sobering up in 1988, 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 materialised in an actual series. For the most part, though, Wild spent the remainder of his career working in theatre.
Wild died in Tebworth, age 53, after a long battle with oral cancer. Diagnosed with the disease in 2000, he underwent surgery in July 2004 and had part of his tongue and both vocal cords removed. Because of this surgery, he had lost his speech1 and had to communicate through his wife.
RIP Jack Wild (30 September, 1952 – 2 March, 2006)
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