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George Gaynes, Star of ‘Punky Brewster,’ ‘Police Academy,’ Dies at 98

George Gaynes and wife Allyn Ann McLerie
George Gaynes and wife Allyn Ann McLerie

George Gaynes, star of the Police Academy movies and the cranky foster dad in the 1980s sitcom Punky Brewster, has died. He was 98 years old.

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The veteran actor died on Monday in North Bend, Washington, Variety reports. His death was confirmed by his daughter, Iya Gaynes Falcone Brown.

On Tuesday, February 16, his Punky Brewster costar Soleil Moon Frye tweeted an emotional reaction to her on-screen father’s death.

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“The universe just gained a gigantic star. You will be in my heart and soul always & forever. Your little Punky RIP George Gaynes,” the actress wrote.

Gaynes will also be remembered for his role alongside Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, where he dressed in drag as Dorothy Michaels and kissed the actor. In addition to his acting work, he was a baritone singer, starring in musicals and operas in the United States and Europe.

George Gaynes in his ‘Punky Brewster’ days

He retired in 2003 after appearing in the comedy Just Married alongside Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy.

His is survived by his actress wife, Allyn Ann McLerie, his daughter, a granddaughter and two great-granddaughters. His son, Matthew, died in a car crash in 1989.