Jack Wild

A veteran of theater, film, and television, singer/dancer/actor Jack Wild got his start in the entertainment business at a very young age. Born just outside Manchester, England, Wild and his family moved to London in 1960 when he was eight years old. About three years later, he was discovered playing soccer in a local park by an agent for a stage school. In the next few years, he began to make his mark in local theater. After a minor part in a film with Carol White and Terence Stamp called Poor Cow and numerous theater roles, in 1967 Wild auditioned for and got the role of the Artful Dodger in the film version of the stage hit Oliver! He had appeared in a London stage version. In the film, Wild performed the delightful "Consider Yourself" and received a 1969 Academy Award Best Supporting Actor nomination for the role. Based on the success of Oliver!, Wild was offered the role of Jimmy in Sid & Marty Krofft's H.R. Pufnstuf. The Wizard of Oz-like Saturday morning live action/puppets children's show premiered on NBC-TV on September 6, 1969. Kellogg's Cereals in association with Capitol Special Products offered the soundtrack to the show on a 45 EP, available from the back of the cereal boxes for a small fee and the right number of box tops. The series was so popular that a film version, Pufnstuf, was released by Universal Pictures in the summer of 1970. Besides the TV cast, also in the film were Martha Raye and Mama Cass Elliot, who gave a marvelous performance on a song called "Different." Wild is featured on "If I Could." The songs for the film were written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, and the Fox-produced soundtrack was released by Capitol Records. Around the same time he was hired by the Kroffts, Wild signed a contract with Capitol Records. His first solo record, The Jack Wild Album, was released in late 1969. The album and the first single, "Some Beautiful" b/w "Picture of You," were primarily sold by mail order through the teen magazines Tiger Beat and Sixteen, which spotlighted Wild as a teen idol. During promotional tours, Wild would appear on local TV kids shows and lip-synch the songs. He also appeared on The Red Skelton Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The Kraft Music Hall Show, The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Bing Crosby Christmas Show, The Banana Splits, The Liberace Show, The Engelbert Humperdink Show, and the Kroffts' shows, Live at the Hollywood Bowl and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. Wild's other albums are Everything's Coming Up Roses (Buddah, 1971) and Beautiful World (Buddah, 1972). Wild was reunited with his Oliver! co-stars Mark Lester in Melody (1971) (includes a score by the Bee Gees) and Ron Moody in Flight of the Doves (Columbia, 1971). He also appeared in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (1991) with Kevin Costner, Basil (1991) with Christian Slater, and English and European movies. After a bout with alcoholism and becoming a born-again Christian, Wild continued to perform English theater while collaborating on his autobiography. He died on March 2, 2006, from oral cancer, which had first been diagnosed in 2000. ~ Ed Hogan

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