Klondike Founders, Mike and Pam Dennis, met in 1958 while working on the T.V. sitcom – Leave It to Beaver. Seven-year-old Mike was Jerry Mather’s (Beaver Cleaver) stunt double and Pam played Jane, an obnoxious kid in Beaver’s classroom.
Mike’s big break came in 1960, winning the part of Opie on the new Andy Griffith show. Unfortunately, just days before shooting the first episode, he broke his toe while doubling for Beaver in the classic episode – In the Soup, where Beaver falls into a giant fake bowl of soup on a billboard. The Opie part was recast, and cute little Ronnie Howard got it.
When Pam was 10, her family relocated to Wasilla, Alaska. In 1973, she was crowned Miss Wasilla (her operatic version of “The Gettysburg Address” clinched it) and used her prize money to attend the University of Alaska, becoming a psychologist.
Mike kept acting, playing bit parts on shows such as Bonanza, and The Munsters. At 13, he transitioned to the big screen, as Moondoggie’s kid brother in Gidget Goes Hawaiian. In 1965, he was cut from the film, Beach Blanket Bingo due to bad acne.
Mike continued to audition for parts, but sadly, adolescence had not been kind to him. Washed up at 18, he left Hollywood to become a crab fisherman in Kodiak, Alaska.
Years passed, and Mike enjoyed crabbing until Ron Howard’s movie Splash was released in 1984 to rave reviews. Suddenly, Mike’s repressed rage at losing the Opie part erupted. His crabbing career seemed dull compared to the glitzy life he would have had if he hadn’t fallen into that darn soup bowl.
Mike became a bitter man, hanging out in donut shops, swilling free coffee refills all day long while annoying everyone with stories of how Beaver and Opie had ruined his life. Eventually, he sued Ron Howard on the grounds that his broken toe was the reason for Howard’s Hollywood success. The lawsuit was thrown out of court and Mike was ordered into therapy at the Gary Coleman Clinic for Aging Child Stars in Anchorage, Alaska, which ironically was run by Pam, whose clientele included Danny Bonaduce, Dickie Roberts, Macaulay Culkin, and Clint Howard.
During memory-recovery therapy, Mike remembered that Jerry Mathers had actually pushed him into that soup bowl because he was sick of being “the Beaver” and wanted the Opie part for himself. Mike sued Mathers, which led to an appearance on Oprah, a book deal and a bunch of money.
Mike’s mood improved (the money helped) and he and Pam fell in love and married. Since Pam was really sick of snow and whiny old child stars, they moved to Arroyo Grande and opened the first Klondike Pizza in 1988 and the second in Santa Maria in 1996.
In 2004, Mike appeared with Erik Estrada and Gary Coleman in season 2 of The Surreal Life – a show with a bunch of has-been stars. Ever since then, Mike’s been back in therapy.
Yeah, that was fake too! But it was really a good one, huh? There really is a true story and it really is next…Click here to read the Incredible (and true) Klondike Story.