George Gaynes, Finnish-born American actor, Died at 98


George Gaynes/George Jongejans was born on May 16, 1917, and died on February 15, 2016.

He was an American singer, actor of stage, screen and television, voice artist and World War II veteran.

His parents were Dutch and Russian parents in Finland.

George grew up in France, England and Switzerland and was a US citizen for most of his life.

George Gaynes most distinguish roles in cinema was arguably that of Commandant Eric Lassard in the Police Academy series.

On television, George was perhaps best known as the curmudgeonly but lovable Henry Warnimont on the NBC series Punky Brewster; as high-powered theatrical producer Arthur Feldman on The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, in which Gaynes’ real-life wife, Allyn Ann McLerie, co-starred as his love interest; and as Frank Smith, the mob boss brought down by Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) on the soap opera General Hospital.

George fluctuated 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.

On television, Gaynes played the role of Henry Warnimont, the eventual foster father for Punky Brewster in the eponymous series.

George also provided the voice for Henry in the animated Ruby-Spears version of the show.

When he was not on camera, Gaynes 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.

Gaynes played Serybryalzov in Louis Malle’s acclaimed independent feature, Vanya on 42nd Street, in 1994.

While he was acting in films and television in the early 1960s, he was a regular on the TV daytime dramas Search for Tomorrow and General Hospital, and showed up in such movies as The Group in 1966, Marooned in 1969 and Doctor’s Wives in 1971.

The actor 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.

George Gaynes passed away at 98 yrs old.