Joseph Kearns

Show Count: 376
Series Count: 16
Role: Old Time Radio Star
Old Time Radio
Born: February 12, 1907, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S
Died: February 17, 1962, Los Angeles, California, U.S

Joseph Sherrard Kearns (February 12, 1907 – February 17, 1962) was an American actor, who is best remembered for his role as George Wilson ("Mr. Wilson") in the CBS television series Dennis the Menace from 1959 until his death in 1962, and for providing the voice of the Doorknob in the animated Disney film, Alice in Wonderland.

Early life

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Kearns moved with his family to California when he was very young. His mother was Cordelia M. Kearns (née Peterson) (1877–1962), a concert pianist, from whom Kearns derived his love of music. Kearns' acting career began in 1916 when he joined 'The Rising Generation," a vaudeville troupe of eleven children that toured for 14 months. He went to college at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City, where he earned his tuition by teaching a course in theatrical makeup. He graduated with a degree in music. Kearns started in radio and theatre as a pipe organist. Later, he built his soundproof Hollywood home around a 26-rank Wurlitzer theater pipe organ.



Kearns began his acting career in radio in the 1930s (playing the Crazyquilt Dragon in the serial The Cinnamon Bear), becoming active during the 1940s, with appearances on the shows The Adventures of Sam Spade, Burns and Allen and dozens of other shows. On Suspense, he was almost a mainstay, heard regularly as the host "The Man in Black" in the early years, announcing many episodes in the later run, and playing supporting and occasional lead roles in hundreds of shows throughout the series' tenure in Hollywood, from judges to kindly old-timers to cowards.

His best-remembered radio role was that of Ed, the security guard for Jack Benny's underground money vault, on The Jack Benny Program. The 'running gag' was that Benny had kept Ed on duty at the vault's door so long that the guard was not conversant with current events. When Benny informed him that "The War (World War II) had ended," Ed asked whether the "North" or the "South" had won, assuming that the American Civil War was the one Benny was referring to. He was also the first actor to play the part of Matt Grebb, one of a pair of police detectives in the radio version of the procedural cop series The Lineup, relinquishing the role to Wally Maher in 1951. He appeared in regular roles on The Mel Blanc Show (as the cantankerous father of Mel's on-air girl friend, Betty, played by Mary Jane Croft) and The Harold Peary Show as Old Doc Yak-Yak.

Film career

Kearns made his film debut in Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951). He was the voice of the Doorknob in Disney's animated film, Alice in Wonderland (1951). Kearns appeared in other movies, making his final film appearance as the crime photographer in Anatomy of a Murder (1959).


Joseph Kearns (right) with the cast ofDennis the Menace (1960)

On television, Kearns reprised his radio roles on The Jack Benny Program and also appeared with Eve Arden and Richard Crenna in Our Miss Brooks(1953–1955) - first as Assistant Superintendent Michaels and later (in eight episodes) as Superintendent Stone, a role that he had played on radio. He appeared in at least one episode of I Love Lucy, My Little Margie, I Married Joan, December Bride, It's a Great Life, Walter Brennan's The Real McCoys(in the 1957 episode "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man"), Angel, and Ronald W. Reagan's General Electric Theater

Kearns played Fred, a neighbor of Dr. Tom Wilson (Stephen Dunne) in the 1955 CBS sitcom, Professional Father, co-starring Phyllis Coates, Barbara Billingsley, and Beverly Washburn. In 1959 Kearns appeared as Criminologist Edward Langley in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Perjured Parrot."

Dennis the Menace

Kearns' final role was as George Wilson in CBS's Dennis the Menace based on the comic strip by Hank Ketcham. After his death, Kearns was replaced by Gale Gordon, who played George Wilson's brother John. Kearns and Gordon had worked together prior to Dennis the Menace, on the old radio showThe Cinnamon Bear.

In the last episode that aired before Kearns' death, episode 89 entitled "Where There's a Will", the story dealt with Mr. Wilson making out a will and explaining that Dennis would inherit his gold watch when he dies. The last episode Kearns filmed was titled "The Man Next Door", episode 100, and shown on May 6, 1962. Sylvia Field as George's wife Martha remained for a few more broadcasts, with John Wilson appearing in episode 103, "John Wilson's Cushion", which aired on May 27, 1962. There were references to George being 'back east' in subsequent shows.

While Kearns was still filming episodes, the show introduced Edward Everett Horton as George's Uncle Ned, beginning with episode 90. Horton subsequently appeared twice more. Field was eventually replaced by Sara Seegar in season four, playing John Wilson's wife Eloise.


Kearns died of a cerebral hemorrhage during the third season of Dennis the Menace at the age of 55.

Source: Wikipedia

Burns & AllenBurns & Allen
Show Count: 283
Broadcast History: 15 February 1932 to 13 June 1934, 19 September 1934 to 24 March 1937, 12 April 1937 to 1 August 1938, 30 September 1938 to 23 June 1939, 4 October to 1939 to 26 June 1940, 1 July 1940 to 24 March 1941, 7 October 1941 to 30 June 1942, 6 October 1942 to 25 June 1945, 20 September 1945 to 23 June 1949 and 21 September 1949 to 17 May 1950
Sponsor: Robert Burns Panatella, White Owl Cigars, Campbell Soups, Grape Nuts, Chesterfield Cigarettes, Hinds Cream, Hormel Meats, Lever Brothers, Swan Soap, Maxwell House Coffee Time, Block Drugs
Cast: Bea Benaderet, Gracie Allen, George Burns, Elvia Allman, Mel Blanc, Margaret Brayton, Sara Berner, Clarence Nash, Elliott Lewis, Mary Lee Robb, Richard Crenna, Joseph Kearns, Eric Snowden, Hal March, Gerald Mohr, Marvin Miller, Wally Maher, Doris Singleton, Dawn Bender, Tommy Bernard, Gale Gordon, Hans Conried
Director: Ed Gardner, Ralph Levy, Al Kaye
Producer: Ed Gardner, Ralph Levy, Al Kaye
CBS Radio WorkshopCBS Radio Workshop
Show Count: 76
Broadcast History: 27 January 1956 to 22 September 1957
Cast: Various, Aldus Huxley, William Conrad, Parley Baer, Lurene Tuttle, Jack Kruschen, Joseph Kearns, Vic Perrin, Sam Edwards, Gloria Henry, Charlotte Lawrence
Director: Jack Johnstone, William N Robson, Dee Engelbach, Elliott Lewis, Antony Ellis
Producer: William Froug
The CBS Radio Workshop was an experimental dramatic radio anthology series that aired on CBS from January 27, 1956, until September 22, 1957. Subtitled “radio’s distinguished series to man’s imagination,” it was a revival of the earlier Columbia Experimental Laboratory (1931), Columbia Experimental Dramatic Laboratory (1932) and Columbia Workshop broadcasts by CBS from 1936 to 1943, and used some of the same writers and directors employed on the earlier series'.
Cinnamon Bear, TheCinnamon Bear, The
Show Count: 28
Broadcast History: 1937 to 1962
Cast: Martha Wentworth, Buddy Duncan, Barbara Jean Wong, Verna Felton, Joseph Kearns, Hanley Stafford, Howard McNear, Slim Pickins, Elvia Allman, Elliott Lewis, Lou Merrill, Frank Nelson, Cy Kendall, Gale Gordon, Ted Osborne, Joe Du Val, Dorothy Scott, Ed Max, Rosa Barcelo, Lindsay MacHarrie, Bud Hiestand
Director: Lindsay MacHarrie
A wonderful serial that was enjoyed annually by young children (at adults) in the period leading up to Christmas.
Count Of Monte Cristo, TheCount Of Monte Cristo, The
Show Count: 3
Broadcast History: 1944-1945, 19 December 1946 to 26 June 1947, 1947-1948 and 12 June 1949 to 1 January 1952
Cast: Carleton Young, Anne Stone, Ferdinand Munier, Joseph Kearns, Barbara Lee, Vic Rodman, Paul Marion, Parley Baer, William Conrad, Jay Novello, Virginia Gregg, Howard McNear, John Dehner
Director: Thomas Freebairn-Smith, Jaime del Valle
Date With Judy, ADate With Judy, A
Show Count: 39
Broadcast History: 24 June 1941 to 16 September 1941, 23 June 1942 to 15 September 1942, 18 January 1944 to 4 January 1949 and 13 October 1949 to 25 May 1950
Cast: Bea Benaderet, Lois Corbett, Ann Gillis, Paul McGrath, Margaret Brayton, Tommy Bond, Lurene Tuttle, Dellie Ellis, Stanley Farrar, Louse Erickson, Joseph Kearns, John Borwn, Georgia Backus, Myra Marsh, Dix Davis, Harry Harvey, Richard Crenna, Sandra Gould
Director: Tom McAvity, Helen Mack
Producer: Tom McAvity, Helen Mack, Robert Holmes, Clara Groves
Judy Canova Show, TheJudy Canova Show, The
Show Count: 49
Broadcast History: 6 July 1943 to 27 June 1944, 13 January 1945 to 30 June 1951, and 29 December 1951 to 28 May 1953
Sponsor: Emerson Drug Company, General Motors, Colgate, Smith Brothers
Cast: Gale Gordon, Judy Canova, Mel Blanc, Verna Felton, Sharon Douglas, Hans Conried, Sheldon Leonard, Ruby Dandridge, Ruth Perrott, Joe Kearns, Gerald Mohr, Joseph Kearns, George Niese, Elvia Allman
Director: Joe Rines
Producer: Joe Rines
Let George Do ItLet George Do It
Show Count: 206
Broadcast History: 18 October 1946 to 27 September 1954
Sponsor: Standard Oil
Cast: Eddie Firestone, Bob Bailey, Joseph Kearns, Wally Maher, Frances Robinson, Virginia Gregg, Lillian Buyeff, Olan Soulé
Director: Don Clark
Producer: Owen Vinson, Pauline Vinson
Philip Morris PlayhousePhilip Morris Playhouse
Show Count: 9
Broadcast History: 1939 to 1949, November 1948 to July 1949, and March 1951 to September 1953
Sponsor: Philip Morris Cigarettes
Cast: Vincent Price, Dan Dailey, Cathy Lewis, Marlene Dietrich, Elliott Lewis, Howard Duff, Joseph Kearns, Sidney Miller, Jerry Hausner, James Mathews, William Conrad, Vanessa Brown, Lew Ayres, June Allyson, Robert Culp, Mandel Kramer, Peter Lorre, Everett Sloane, Ed Begley
Director: William Spier, Charles Martin
Producer: William Spier, Charles Martin
On Friday evenings at 8:30 pm, from 1939 until 1944, everyone who had a radio gathered round it to listed to the music, variety and drama offerings of Philip Morris Playhouse. It continued again in 1948 until 1951.
Broadcast: 26th April 1951
Added: Apr 26 2008
Broadcast: 30th September 1954
Added: Oct 22 2009
Broadcast: 18th May 1943
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Jun 13 2001
Broadcast: 16th June 1947
Added: Jun 15 2009
Broadcast: 17th May 1951
Added: Apr 17 2009
Broadcast: 25th January 1951
Added: Feb 05 2009
Broadcast: 12th August 1956
Added: Aug 18 2008
Broadcast: 1st December 1952
Added: Dec 13 2008
Broadcast: 30th March 1950
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Jun 13 2001
Broadcast: 22nd February 1959
Added: Aug 15 2011
Broadcast: December 1, 1942
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Jun 13 2001
Broadcast: 10th September 1947
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Aug 23 2009
Broadcast: 28th January 1952
Added: Jul 24 2009
Broadcast: 28th June 1951
Added: May 22 2009
Broadcast: 5th July 1955
Added: May 13 2010
Broadcast: 19th August 1942
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Jun 13 2001
Broadcast: 24th April 1955
Added: Apr 12 2012
Broadcast: 6th March 1949
Added: May 14 2012
Broadcast: 9th March 1953
Added: Sep 10 2009
Broadcast: 17th November 1952
Added: Dec 11 2008
Broadcast: 20th October 1952
Added: Sep 03 2009
Broadcast: 4th March 1946
Added: Aug 26 2007
Broadcast: 24th December 1947
Added: Dec 24 2005
Broadcast: 21st April 1952
Added: Apr 30 2009
Broadcast: 6th August 1950
Added: May 27 2007
Broadcast: April 12, 1951
Added: Apr 09 2009
Broadcast: 27th September 1945
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Sep 22 2006
Broadcast: 15th June 1954
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Feb 19 2010
Broadcast: 24th February 1947
Added: Mar 15 2009
Broadcast: 21st September 1953
Added: Nov 20 2009
Broadcast: 14th January 1952
Added: Jul 18 2009
Broadcast: 24th August 1952
Added: May 29 2012
Broadcast: 15th October 1951
Added: Jun 27 2009
Broadcast: 12th November 1950
Added: Nov 12 2006
Broadcast: 3rd April 1956
Added: Jul 03 2010
Broadcast: 15th March 1954
Added: Jun 06 2009
Broadcast: 15th July 1948
Added: Apr 09 2011
Broadcast: 19th January 1953
Added: May 08 2009
Broadcast: 5th April 1954
Added: Jun 12 2009
Broadcast: 13th April 1953
Added: Aug 09 2009
Broadcast: 28th September 1958
Added: Sep 26 2011
Broadcast: 28th September 1953
Added: Oct 02 2009
Broadcast: 4th March 1951
Added: Mar 04 2007
Broadcast: 29th August 1956
Added: Aug 29 2008
Broadcast: 13th October 1952
Added: Aug 28 2009
Broadcast: 22nd September 1952
Added: Aug 20 2009
Broadcast: 5th December 1952
Added: Oct 23 2009
Broadcast: 8th December 1952
Added: Dec 18 2008
Broadcast: 22nd April 1951
Added: Apr 22 2007
Broadcast: 24th March 1947
Added: Apr 06 2009
Broadcast: 9th May 1948
Added: Jun 12 2012
Broadcast: 2nd August 1945
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Aug 02 2005
Broadcast: 9th February 1953
Added: Feb 10 2006
Broadcast: 9th October 1947
Added: Oct 12 2007
Broadcast: 27th April 1953
Added: Aug 07 2009
Broadcast: 24th November 1952
Added: Dec 12 2008
Broadcast: 14th April 1952
Added: May 16 2009
Broadcast: 29th December 1952
Added: Dec 27 2008
Broadcast: 13th July 1949
Added: Aug 06 2006
Broadcast: 16th March 1953
Added: Sep 18 2009
Broadcast: 1st October 1945
Added: Oct 01 2012
Broadcast: 25th February 1946
Added: Aug 03 2008
Broadcast: 9th March 1941
Added: May 21 2012
Broadcast: 27th December 1955
Added: Jan 06 2011
Broadcast: 9th November 1953
Added: Nov 12 2009
Broadcast: 27th January 1947
Added: Jan 25 2009
Broadcast: November 14, 1948
Added: May 06 2007
Broadcast: 30th December 1954
Added: Jan 01 2010
Broadcast: 4th January 1954
Added: Jul 04 2009
Broadcast: 11th January 1954
Added: Jan 07 2010
Broadcast: 12th April 1954
Added: Jun 13 2009
Broadcast: 21st January 1952
Added: Jul 23 2009
Broadcast: 25th May 1953
Added: Jun 26 2008
Broadcast: 4th October 1953
Added: Oct 19 2012
Broadcast: 7th October 1946
Added: May 25 2009
Broadcast: 28th December 1953
Added: Jan 02 2010
Broadcast: 7th April 1952
Added: Apr 11 2008
Broadcast: 3rd May 1955
Added: Apr 22 2010
Broadcast: April 19, 1951
Added: Jan 22 2021
Broadcast: 13th November 1947
Added: Aug 12 2010
Broadcast: March 2, 1954
Added: Mar 15 2021
Broadcast: 13th March 1949
Added: Feb 03 2008
Broadcast: 22nd June 1954
Added: Mar 14 2010
Broadcast: 14th October 1953
Added: Oct 14 2005
Broadcast: 25th November 1954
Added: Nov 26 2009
Broadcast: 19th July 1953
Added: Jul 16 2012
Broadcast: 28th November 1952
Added: Dec 02 2010
Broadcast: 26th January 1953
Added: Aug 01 2009
Broadcast: May 23, 1946
Added: Jan 26 2021
Broadcast: 14th May 1953
Added: Aug 30 2009
Broadcast: 20th September 1955
Added: Jun 10 2010
Broadcast: 2nd March 1953
Added: Aug 15 2009
Broadcast: 23rd November 1943
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Jun 13 2001
Broadcast: 7th June 1951
Added: Jun 13 2008
Broadcast: 22nd March 1951
Added: Mar 21 2009
Broadcast: 15th December 1942
Starring: Joseph Kearns
Added: Jun 13 2001
Broadcast: 30th March 1953
Added: Sep 17 2009
Broadcast: 25th July 1956
Added: Aug 07 2010
Broadcast: 21st January 1948
Added: Feb 01 2010
Broadcast: 18th May 1953
Added: Jun 22 2008
Broadcast: 11th July 1956
Added: Aug 05 2010
Broadcast: 10th March 1952
Added: Jun 19 2009
Broadcast: 14th September 1958
Added: Sep 09 2011
Broadcast: 3rd May 1951
Added: Mar 05 2008
Broadcast: November 30, 1953
Added: Aug 16 2014