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George Gaynes Dead: Punky Brewster Actor Dies At Age 98

Image via Pixabay

George Gaynes died at age 98 on Monday, in North Bend, Wash, where he was living with his daughter’s family during the latter part of his retirement. His daughter Iya Gaynes Falcone Brown confirmed her father’s death.

Gaynes is remembered as a ‘character’ actor who was seemingly always on screen but never played the part of the hero. Starting off as a small screen actor the audience could allegedly never name, according to USA Today, Gaynes went on to become prominent due to his role as photographer Henry Warnimont, a widower who adopts a young girl called Punky Brewster in the NBC sitcom of the same name.

After getting the part, Gaynes told the New York Times, “The two things an actor dreads most are children and dogs. I have both in this series,” in an interview later that year.

He was cast in the series and in what is arguably his most famous role at the age of 67, after appearing in 1982’s Tootsie (which was nominated for ten Academy Awards) and the first of seven Police Academy movies. He subsequently appeared in all seven movies in the Police Academy series.

The New York Times reported that Vincent Canby of The Times said he was “priceless as the seedy but tirelessly lecherous leading man on the soap,” while talking about Gaynes’ performance in Tootsie. Canby went on to say that Gaynes wouldn’t remain a nameless actor, saying he was:

..so memorably funny in such memorably funny circumstances that I doubt he’ll much longer remain one of those actors whose looks are as familiar as his name, though one never puts the two together.

Soleil Moon Frye, who played Gaynes’ on-screen daughter in their TV series Punky Brewster tweeted her sadness upon hearing of the actor’s passing, saying, “The universe just gained a gigantic star. You will be in my heart and soul always & forever..Your little Punky..RIP George Gaynes”.

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