Family & Companions
Whether he is best remembered as the screwball Commandant Lassard from the "Police Academy" (1984) franchise, the grumpy but kind hearted Henry Warnimont from the series "Punky Brewster" (NBC, 1984-88), or the amorous soap opera star John Van Horn in the comedy "Tootsie" (1982), actor George Gaynes was a fixture in '80s American pop culture. Originally born in Finland in 1917, Gaynes studied at the Collège Classique Cantonal near Lausanne in Switzerland and later went on to study opera at the Music School of Milan in Italy. He would serve in both the Dutch and British Navies during World War II, before eventually relocating to the United States to focus on acting. He began racking up starring roles in Broadway shows like "The Consul" and "Wonderful Town," and eventually enrolled at the Actors Studio. After marrying a fellow Broadway actress, Allyn Ann McLerie, Gaynes and his new wife relocated to Los Angeles, where he began appearing on TV series like "Bonanza" (NBC, 1959-1973). His memorable role in "Tootsie" would come in 1982, quickly followed by the first of seven "Police Academy" movies in 1984. That same year, Gaynes began starring opposite the precocious Soleil Moon Frye on "Punky Brewster." He would go on to play the recurring character of Arthur Feldman on "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" (NBC, 1987-1991) and make notable appearances in films like "The Crucible" (1996) and "Wag the Dog" (1997) before retiring from acting in 2003. Gaynes died in 2016. He was 98 years old.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Stage debut, "La malade imaginaire", Lausanne, Switzerland
Opera debut, "The Wizard", Teatro della Triennale, Milan, Italy
Was sub-lieutenant in Royal Netherlands Navy
New York Broadway and opera debut, "The Consul", Ethel Barrymore Theatre (billed as George Jongejans)
Early TV appearances: as The Dancing Master, "The Would-Be Gentleman" (CBS Special), "One Touch of Venus" (NBC Special)
London stage debut, "Bells Are Ringing"
Film debut, "P.T. 109"
Played Henry Higgins in US tour of "My Fair Lady"
TV Series debut, regular role of Sam Reynolds on CBS daytime drama "Search for Tomorrow"
TV-movie debut, "Trilogy of Terror"
Miniseries debut, "Captains and the Kings"
Breakthrough film role as soap opera actor John Van Horn in "Tootsie"
First "Police Academy" film as Commandant Lassard; Gaynes has appeared in six sequels