WHATEVER HAPPENED TO: Jack Wild, the Artful Dodger from Oliver!

Jack Wild

Sorry, sorry, I'm on a bit of a Lionel Bart /Oliver! kick right now. Let me work it out of my system and we'll all get better together, OK? Promise this is my last one for a while...

While watching Oliver! a couple of days ago, I was wracking my brain with the kid who played the "Artful Dodger": He looked so familiar. So I looked up the actor (Jack Wild), and it all came rushing back.

Of course: H.R. PUF 'N' STUF...Get outta town! He's Jack Wild, teen idol from the '70s! This article does a great job of summarizing his career and current status, which follows the usual arc of Early Success followed by Drugs and Debauchery followed by Attempted Comeback. Ah, isn't Hollywood wonderful...

For Jack Wild, success came early and big. Discovered by an agent while playing soccer in a London park with his older brother, Arthur, Jack was enrolled in a actors school and began going on auditions at the age of 11.

As with many other boy-actors in the London area, he was cast in the stage production ofOliver!, and joined with hundreds of other castmates at the audition for the film. Jack won the plum role The Artful Dodger, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his efforts.

At the Hollywood premiere of Oliver!, Jack was introduced to puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft, who decided that Jack would be the perfect young actor to play the lead in their upcoming saturday-morning kids program, H.R. Puf 'n' Stuf. Jack and his brother left London for the US, and moved in with Marty Krofft and his family while they filmed 17 episodes of the series plus a feature film based on the show.

A true sensation, 15-year-old Jack Wild became the darling of the teen magazines with a profitable recording contract and active career in films, incluing a starring role Alan Parker's first fim, Melody.

After a few years, Jack faded from the limelight, and as with many of his idol cohorts fell in to several years of obscurity, depression and alcohol abuse.

Now clean and sober, Jack is seeking a comeback as an actor. He has appeared in several productions in the past few years, including a role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and a more recent part in a London stage adaptation of The Wizard of Oz (as the Cowardly Lion). He is currently working on his autobiography and has also been soliciting a script treatment of a sequel to Oliver!

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