It was with a twinge of sadness and regret that I read this recent obituary:
Actor Jack Wild, best known for playing the Artful Dodger as a teenager in the Oscar-winning 1968 film "Oliver!" has died from cancer. He was 53. Nominated for an Academy Award for that role aged just 16, he went on to star in the U.S. television series "H.R. Pufnstuf" and in several films before his career began to derail, in part because of excessive drinking from an early age.
Could H.R. Pufnstuf have been any more schlocky and putrid? It was low-budget taken to new depths by the Hollywood dream team of Sid & Marty Kroft. These are the same giants who also brought us the Banana Splits and Sigmund & the Sea Monsters with Johnny Whitaker.
Poor Jack Wild, I'd drink a lot too if I had gone from an Oscar nomination to playing Jimmy in that inane stinker of a series. It had to be all down hill from there. How couldn't it be?
By the way, whatever happened to Johnny Whitaker? Is he now wiping down a bar in Rapid City?
What it is about that period of time that makes me glad it is over and will never again return? I remember cringing at this crappy stuff as a kid and realizing that being stupid and passively tolerant of mediocrity were part and parcel of my national culture. Yes I was 10 and fully cognizant of how insipid and trashy American mass existence really was.
"And they called it puppy loooo-oove".
By age 12 I had begun listening to the Mothers, Dylan & Jimi and started reading underground comics by Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton. The cellar door had suddenly been flung open. The rest, as they say, is history...thank God.
Jack Wild R.I.P
Who's your friend when things get rough?
Can't do a little cause he can't do enough.