George Gaynes (born George Jongejans
in Helsinki, Finland)
grew up in France, Switzerland, and England.
He began his career as a opera singer,
performing in Italy and Spain.
When WWII broke out, he enlisted in the Royal Dutch Navy,
and they put him to work as a translator (well, all those languages!).
Flash forward...to NYC!
After the war, he joined the New York City Opera,
but felt his acting talents weren't being used there.
Wonderful Town (1953)
with Roz Russell and Edie Adams (above) fixed that.
George is second from the right, next to Cris Alexander.
Television, films, and lots of stage work,
but he wasn't a household face til
Punky Brewster hit the small screen...
George played Henry Warnimont to Soleil Moon Frye's Punky
for 4 seasons back in the 1980s.
“The two things an actor dreads most are children and dogs,”
he told The Times in 1984.
“I have both in this series.”
And then of course there was Tootsie (1982).
George played soap start John Van Horn,
and got to make passionate love to Dustin Hoffman.
Rehearsal musta been a riot.
The "Police Academy" movies followed,
another brush with stardom,
although George seemed to take his new fame lightly.
"My wife is happy, because we can travel more,
and she can get a new couch cover.
But knowing the vagaries of the entertainment business,
I can’t take it too seriously.”
Always a bridesmaid, perhaps,
but a great character actor.
1917 - 2016