Character actor George Gaynes, who played the lovable doofus Commandant Eric Lassard in the Police Academy movies and Punky Brewster’s father in ’80s TV series Punky Brewster, has died at the age of 98.
He also appeared alongside Dustin Hoffman in the movie Tootsie.
Gaynes died on Monday at his daughter’s home in North Bend, Wash., his daughter Iya Gaynes Falcone Brown confirmed to The New York Times.
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Gaynes’ other film work includes The Way We Were, Altered States and Wag the Dog. He made appearances in hundreds of TV show episodes, including The Defenders, Mission: Impossible, Bonanza, The Six Million Dollar Man and Hawaii Five-0, as well as daytime soap opera General Hospital.
“The last couple times I got in touch with him, even in his ’90s, he was always happy to take the call and consider something,” said Gaynes’ longtime agent Jonathan Howard to The Hollywood Reporter. “He was really one of the true gentlemen in this business and was working steadily for 50 years or more. A sad, sad loss. But he had a really long, great life.”
Born George Jongejans on May 16, 1917 in Helsinki, Finland, he was raised in France, England and Switzerland.
A gifted singer, he moved to the U.S. after the Second World War and joined the New York City Opera before starring on Broadway.
He retired in 2003 after starring in Just Married alongside Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy, settling in Santa Barbara, Calif., before moving to Washington to stay with his daughter and her family.
He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Canadian-born actress Allyn Ann McLerie, one daughter, one granddaughter and two great-granddaughters. His son, Matthew, died in a car crash in 1989.