Colorful character actor, George Gaynes, whose memorable turns as Soleil Moon Frye’s step-dad in the 1980’s sitcom “Punky Brewster”, as well as Dustin Hoffman’s would-be suitor in Tootsie, died this month at the ageof 98.
Gaynes, who was also a veteran Broadway stage actor as well as a trained opera singer, will unfortunately be remembered for a disastrous run as a high ranking New York City Police official that started in the mid 1980’s.
As “Commandant”, of the Police Academy, Gaynes was at the center of a controversial program, designed by the city’s first female mayor, to increase police recruitment by lowering academy entrance standards.
While some may say the experiment was bold in nature, few dispute its failure. Tasked with the unenviable position of implementing the program, Gaynes struggled to maintain discipline within the Academy from the beginning, and his tenure was marked by scandal after scandal.
A city-wide riot, many say actually caused by a careless and clearly under-trained police cadet, lead to near disaster as criminals brazenly held police as hostages at gun point with their own weapons before being overtaken. Any chance of goodwill being generated by the relatively safe outcome of the riot however was short-lived when it was revealed at the Academy’s graduation ceremony, a well-known prostitute was hired to sit under a podium and perform oral sex on a cadet who was giving a speech at the event.
George Gaynes is survived by a wife, daughter, granddaughter and two great grand children.Follow What Sucks on Twitter!