'Wonderful Town', 'Tootsie' Actor George Gaynes Dies at 98

The New York Times reports that stage and screen star George Gaynes, perhaps best known for his roles on the 1980's sitcom "Punky Brewster," and the film franchise "Police Academy" passed away on Monday at his daughter's home in North Bend, Wash. He was 98. His death was confirmed by his daughter, Iya Gaynes Falcone Brown. Punky Brewster actress Soleil Moonfrey shared a photo of her former co-star on Instagram (at left)

Gaynes began his career as a Broadway musical comedy performer in the 1940s and 1950s. He alternated between stage musicals and both comic and dramatic plays, including his role as Bob Baker in the original production of Wonderful Town (1953), Jupiter in the Cole Porter musical Out of This World, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and as Henry Higgins in the 1964 US tour of My Fair Lady.

In television, Gaynes played the role of Henry Warnimont, the eventual foster father for Punky Brewster in the eponymous series. Behind the camera, he directed the very last episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. Films in which he appeared include The Way We Were, Nickelodeon and Tootsie.

In 1984, he played Commandant Lassard, the titular leader, in the first of seven Police Academy movies, and audiences of the 1980s may remember him as Frank Smith, the Mafia boss who was after Luke and Laura on the soap opera General Hospital. In 1994, he played Serybryalzov in Louis Malle's acclaimed independent feature, Vanya on 42nd Street.

Entering films and television in the early 1960s, Gaynes was a regular on the TV daytime dramas Search for Tomorrow and General Hospital, and showed up in such movies as The Group (1966), Marooned (1969) and Doctor's Wives (1971). He also played a role in the sci-fi television series Sliders for one episode, being the aged character of the leading role Quinn Mallory, played by Jerry O'Connell. [source]

Image: Instagram

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