George Gaynes Dead

George Gaynes, Star of Punky Brewster and Police Academy Films, Dead at 98

George Gaynes, the man TV’s Punky Brewster called “Henry” (and eventually “dad”) from 1984 to 1988, died Monday in North Bend, Wash., at the age of 98.

Born in Helsinki in 1917, Gaynes began his career on the Broadway stage in the 1950s and ’60s, including a starring role in the original production of the musical Wonderful Town.

But Gaynes is best known for playing Henry Warnimont — a grouchy photographer-turned-building manager who raises, and ultimately adopts, a young girl (played by Soleil Moon Frye) — in the ’80s sitcom Punky Brewster. (Update: Moon Frye posted a touching tribute to her former co-star on Instagram Tuesday evening, as seen below.)

Soap opera fans likely associate Gaynes with his early-’80s General Hospital character, mob boss Frank Smith. His small-screen resumé also includes roles on shows like CheersChicago Hope, Matlock and (the original) Hawaii Five-O.

Gaynes’ acting success also translated to the big screen; he portrayed Commandant Eric Lassard in seven Police Academy movies and acted opposite Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, among other noteworthy roles.

Did you have a favorite Gaynes character? Drop a comment with your memories of the late actor below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Linda says:

    RIP….Henry from Punky Brewster

  2. Eric says:

    RIP… He’ll always be John Van Horn to me. “Does Jeff know?”

  3. JSS says:

    RIP Henry.

  4. Wendy says:

    Aww. RIP, Mr. Gaynes! Your Henry Warnimont was such a lovable curmudgeon!

  5. Scott says:

    “This is Very, Very Bad!” RIP Commandant Lassard

  6. He was also on the Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, which was a great late ’80s/early ’90s show starring Blair Brown from Fringe that really needs to finally be released on DVD. Sad to hear of his death since I like the actor, but he did live a long life and had a great career so that is some consolation. R.I.P.

  7. cc says:

    Ah, Captain Lassard was one of the first fictional characters that made me laugh unstoppably. RIP

  8. DMK says:

    Oh man, sorry to hear this. Cmdt. Lessard was such a great character, and Mr. Gaynes’ performance was a huge part of that. Not that they’ll ever see it, but condolences to the family.

  9. Joni says:

    The 1st movie I remember him from was Mel Brooks’ “To Be or Not To Be”. Still love it. Fair Winds and Following Seas, Mr Gaynes.

  10. Jim J. says:

    Born 1917, died 2016. As long as a life like that sounds, I’m still sorry George Gaynes won’t get to turn 99 this year. RIP

  11. Cliff says:

    I rememberhim from a classic episode of Cheers, where he left his will to the patrons of Cheers. And of course the Police Academy movies . He was also in a couple of Columbo’s. He lived a long successful life. RIP.