Veteran actor George Gaynes has passed away at the age of 98.
The Finnish-born American actor is probably best known for playing Commandant Eric Lassard in the seven Police Academy films released between 1984 and 1994. He also starred in the popular US sitcom Punky Brewster, which ran for four seasons from 1984 to 1988.
Gaynes also took on supporting roles in films including Tootsie, Wag The Dog and The Crucible. He reprised his role as Commandant Eric Lassard in 1997’s Police Academy: The Series and his final screen appearance came in the 2003 rom-com Just Married.
He worked regularly on the Broadway stage in the 1950s and then on TV and in film from the 1960s to the 1990s. After retiring in 2003, he spent his final years living in Santa Clara, California. His daughter told the press that Gaynes had passed away at her home in North Bend, Washington on Monday (February 15).
Soleil Moon Frye, who co-starred with Gaynes in Punky Brewster, paid tribute to the late actor on Twitter last night (February 17), writing: “The universe just gained a gigantic star. You will be in my heart and soul always & forever. Your little Punky. RIP George Gaynes.”
The universe just gained a gigantic star. You will be in my heart and soul always & forever.
Your little Punky
RIP George Gaynes
— soleil moon frye (@moonfrye) February 17, 2016