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Dennis Ketcham - The Name's Familiar - by Laura Lee at Dennis Ketcham

Dennis Ketcham was born in 1946 in Carmel, California. His father, Hank, was a cartoonist who worked at home. Dennis inadvertently gained fame at the age of four when he trashed his bedroom instead of taking a nap. His mother, Alice, marched into her husband's studio and announced in exasperation "Your son is a menace." A cartoon lightbulb appeared over the artist's head, and Dennis, the Menace was born. By the time Hank Ketcham retired in 1994, the comic strip had 50 million readers. It had spawned a television series and a major motion picture.

Although Dennis may have been in storybooks, he did not lead a storybook life. As a boy, he had learning disabilities. His mother was an alcoholic, and his father's work schedule left little time for his son. In 1959, shortly after his mother filed for divorce, Dennis was sent to boarding school. A few months later Alice Ketcham died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 41. Hank Ketcham remarried and moved Dennis to Switzerland. He had such a difficult time in Swiss boarding school that his father sent him to boarding school in America while he and his new wife remained in Europe.

After graduating, Dennis joined the Marines and went to Vietnam. Upon his return, he was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and drifted from one low-paying job to another. Meanwhile, Hank Ketcham, now a multi-millionaire, was divorced and married a third wife, with whom he had two more children. Dennis was also divorced and had remarried. He was, himself, estranged from his daughter. "I hear from Dennis about once a year, mostly when he needs money," Hank Ketcham told People magazine in 1993.

Although Dennis says that he wishes his father had written about something other dim his childhood, he keeps a large collection of Dennis the Menace dolls and books.

From the book The Name's Familiar by Laura Lee Buy The Book!

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