George Gaynes: 1917-2016, Star of Punky Brewster and Police Academy

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Actor George Gaynes, notable for his roles as Henry Warnimont on the ‘80s TV series Punky Brewster and Commandant Eric Lassard in the Police Academy series, passed away on Monday at his home in North Bend, Washington. He was 98.

Gaynes was born George Jongejans in Finland in 1917 and grew up in France, England, and Switzerland. After a stint in the Royal Dutch Navy during WWII, he moved to the United States to pursue an acting career, making his name on Broadway in such musical comedies as Wonderful Town, Out of This World, and the touring production of My Fair Lady. He entered the arena of television and film in the early 1960s, mostly starring in soaps and in character roles for the next 20 years. Gaynes memorably played John Van Horn in 1982’s Tootsie, and he spent much of the rest of the 1980s cementing his legacy in the Police Academy films and Punky Brewster.

Gaynes is survived by his wife, Allyn Ann McLerie, and his daughter, Iya. His son Matthew, a noted kayaker, passed away in a 1989 car crash.

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