Truly Bad Films

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Brit Boys

Let's do this Jeopordy-style:

Alcoholic osteopathy and feed the daisies.

The Question - What do British child actors Mark Lester and Jack Wild do these days?

I was seven years old when Oliver! hit the movie theaters. It starred nine year old Mark Lester as Oliver Twist and fifteen year old Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger. Back then, whenever I saw Mark Lester, my lil heart went thunk-a-thunk. Just take a look at him, and you'll see how he could turn a young girl's head:

I must have seen every film or television show he did - except, Fahrenheit 451. But I recognized him instantly when he came loping in camera for a very brief uncredited scene last week. I hadn't seen any of his films at all since some time in the early 70's. It was a weird sensation to see this Tigerbeat posterboy I used to swoon about, (remember - he's two years older than me!) pop on screen in the form of a . . . little boy. OMG - he was just a BABY!

Well, the baby quit the entertainment industry at the advanced age of 19 in 1977. As far as I can tell, he then turned to drink and osteopathy. Somewhere in England today, you can make an appointment with Dr. Lester - wait, do they call osteopaths "doctors?" Anyway, you can see Mark Lester professionally and then maybe go down to the pub with him afterwards and sing a few Oliver! songs.

Jack Wild went from Oliver! to an American Saturday children's show called H.R. Pufnstuf. I watched it every Saturday just to hear his British accent. The show was probably aimed at first graders, but watching it beat dusting the dining room chair rungs, so I was a tremendous fan of the potato-faced boy:

I'm not sure how many years he did that show, but when it ended, I never heard of him again. Even though he lacked leading man features, his photos were regular fodder for the boy-crazy rags. (I wish I still had all those issues of Tigerbeat from the late 60's and early 70's. Donny Osmond! Michael Jackson! Shaun Cassidy! Leif Erickson! . . . o Lord!)

Anyway - it so happens that Jack Wild's career fell apart in the 70's due to his exceptional drinking and drugging. He didn't do much but that, and smoke, for a few decades and then in 2000 he was diagnosed with cancer in his throat and tongue. He died, aged 53, on March 1st of this year. You can read news articles about his life in the London Times and USA Today. He looked like a 78 year old woman.

So ends the sad tale of my childhood crushes on Brit boys.


At 8:43 PM, Anonymous keysunset said...

o Lord, I wish I still had those "TigerBeat" mag/rags too! Kind of. (My house is already a paper collector ... but just to see those things again!)

I had a bigger crush on Jack Wild - and yes I watched H R Pufnstuf too. How sad his life turned out. I didn't remember he was in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves! I'll have to look that up and see what he did in that film.

Who was your "first" fangirly crush, Ms. Chai?

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Chai-rista said...

It was probably Mark Lester. That or Mr. Greenjeans. ;)

At 6:40 PM, Blogger bobgirrl said...

OMG, I lu-uved Shaun Cassidy. Thought I was going to die. Had the album, the posters, and everything.

At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am way to young to remember any of those people, but I did and sorta still do think that Donny Osmond is cute and I LOVED Oliver! When I was younger my heart also went "Thunka thunka thunk"! ;)
and I just trashed all my old "Tigerbeat" and "Teenbeat" magazines...with New Kids...I guess I will join the "I wish I still..." crowd someday!
-- GG (@work)

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Chai-rista said...

Bobgirl - I date my self when I say this, but had ALL the Bobby Sherman albums ... And he couldn't even sing! I've got to go hide my face now.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger GG said...

Hey Chai: On the high note, Bobby Sherman is now a patrol officer in LA. :) And you should have been here the other morning when on a wild hair I started belting out "Julia do you love me?" uh...yeah...


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