- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

George Gaynes, an actor who appeared in “Punky Brewster” and “Police Academy” has died at 98, NBC News reported.

Mr. Gaynes’s death was confirmed by Iya Gaynes Falcone Brown to the New York Times on Tuesday evening.

Though he never became a leading-man star, his face and persona were well-known to TV and movie viewers, perhaps most-famously as the grouchy foster father on the NBC sitcom “Punky Brewster.”

“Anyone who believes in happy endings will take consolation from the career of George Gaynes, about to become a television celebrity” in his 60s, The Times reported in 1984 in advance of the premiere “Punky Brewster.”

His most critically-acclaimed role was as a lecherous soap-opera star in “Tootsie,” trying to get his hands on castmate Dorothy, not realizing that the “actress” played by Dustin Hoffman is actually a man.

Mr. Gaynes, who was born George Jongejans in Finland, had a recurring role as the clueless commandant in the “Police Academy” movies, one of the few characters to appear in all seven films.

Overall, he appeared in more than 30 theatrical and TV movies and hundreds of television episodes.

He arrived in the U.S. after World War II and an itinerant upbringing, performing on opera stages in Europe and getting his first job with the New York City Opera playing such classic roles as Figaro and Leporello, and then later on Broadway.

Mr. Gaynes appeared constantly on 1960s and 1970s TV shows from “Bonanzo” to the “Six Million Dollar Man.”

He is survived by his wife, actress Allyn Ann McLerie; his daughter, Mrs. Brown; one granddaughter; and two great-granddaughters.

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