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George Gaynes Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (30)

Overview (4)

Born in Helsinki, Finland, Russia [now Finland]
Died in North Bend, Washington, USA
Birth NameGeorge Jongejans
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

George Gaynes was born in Helsinki in May, 1917, which was then the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The Grand Duchy was part of the Russian Empire, which was in a state of collapse at the time of Gaynes' birth. The Emperor Nicholas II of Russia had abdicated the throne on March 15, two months prior to Gaynes' birth., and the Empire was in the process of splintering.

His family left the country, and George was primarily raised in France, England, and Switzerland. Neither of his patents was Finnish. His father Gerrit Jongejans was a Dutch businessman, and his mother Iya Grigorievna de Gay was a Russian artist. George attended college in the vicinity of Lausanne, Switzerland and graduated in 1937. He then attended a music school in Milan, Italy for about a year.

In 1940, George Gaynes was living in France, during the time of the Battle of France in World War II. The Battle ended in defeat for the French Third Republiv and the country was occupied by Nazi Germany. George attempted to flee the occupation authorities, by crossing the Pyrenees mountains into neutral Spain. He was arrested by the Spanish authorities for illegally crossing the border, but was soon released.

In 1943, George joined the Royal Netherlands Navy. With the Netherlands under German occupation, the headquarters of the Navy had moved to London, in the United Kingdom. George had no previous military experience, but he was noticed for multilingual skills. He fluently spoke Dutch, English, French, Italian and Russian. He was soon detached to the (British) Royal Navy to serve as a translator.

During his naval service in World War II, George took part in the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Battle of Anzio in the Italian Campaign, and the Adriatic Campaign. The War ended in 1945 and George was honorably discharged in July, 1946. His highest military rank was that of a sergeant.

In 1946, George briefly returned to living in France. He was approached by an American theater director with the offer to play a part in a musical. He took the offer and moved to New York City, where he started appearing in Broadway musicals. He applied for American citizenship and officially became a citizen in 1948.

From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, George Gaynes was primarily a theatrical actor. His roles included various musicals, dramas, and comedies. One of his better-known roles was that of Henry Higgins in the theatrical version of ''My Fair Lady'', which went on a successful tour in 1964.

In the early 1960s, George started appearing as a character actor in various television series. He was also offered a number of film roles. His career unexpectedly took off in the 1980s, with a major part in the television series ''Punky Brewster '' (1984-1988) and another one in the then-popular film series ''Police Academy'' (1984-1994). In ''Police Academy'', his role was that of Commandant Eric Lassard, the titular leader of the Academy. He played the role in all 7 films of the series, though he only had a small part in the second film. This was probably his most memorable role and gained him celebrity status for the first time.

In the 1990s, his career slowed down again, with only a few film appearances. He only played in a single film through the 2000s, "Just Married" (2003), and then retired. He was 86-years-old and could no longer play physically demanding roles. He spend 13 years in retirement and died of natural causes in 2016.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dimos I Ntikoudis

Spouse (1)

Allyn Ann McLerie (20 December 1953 - 15 February 2016) (his death) (2 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Deep grumpy commanding voice

Trivia (30)

Nephew of actor Gregory Gaye.
Son of Iya Abdy (also known as Lady Abdy Jongejans).
Accomplished Broadway musical comedy performer, best remembered as Bob Baker in the original production of "Wonderful Town" (1953).
Appeared in all seven Police Academy movies.
Credited Jacques Tati as being a major influence on him as a comedic actor.
His wife, Allyn Ann McLerie, guest-starred as his love interest on his television series, Punky Brewster (1984).
Studied opera in Milan, Italy.
Spoke seven different languages.
Best known by the public for his starring roles as Henry Warnimont on Punky Brewster (1984) and as Commandant Eric Lassard in the Police Academy (1984) movies.
After appearing in Just Married (2003), he retired from acting in 2003, at age 86.
Was a Democrat.
His second wife Allyn Ann McLerie was born in Canada.
His uncle, Gregory Gaye, died in 1993. He lived to be 92.
His great-grandchild, Portia, was born in 2012.
His father, Gerrit Jongejans, was a Dutch businessman. His mother, Iya Grigorievna De Gay (Lady Iya Abdy), was of mostly Russian ancestry, with smaller amounts of Polish and French roots.
Before he was a film and television actor, he was a singer and established Broadway actor.
Grandfather of Nicole Falcone Stryjak.
Met actress/dancer, Allyn Ann McLerie, in New York City, where they were both performing on Broadway in 1952.
Gaynes and wife Allyn Ann McLerie moved from Los Angeles, California to Santa Barbara, California, in 1989.
In Europe, he served in the Dutch and British Navies during World War II.
Father of Iya and Matthew Gaynes.
His daughter, Iya, was named after his mother.
Acting mentor and friends with Soleil Moon Frye and Cherie Johnson.
Due to his appearance, voice and work in comedy, he is sometimes confused with Lloyd Bridges and Leslie Nielsen.
After Punky Brewster (1984), Gaynes did not keep in touch with Soleil Moon Frye.
His son Matthew suffered from drug abuse for many years. He died in a car crash in India in 1989. He was traveling through Northern India to Nepal to film a kayaking special for ESPN. Left behind a widow whom he had married earlier that year.
He and his wife, Allyn Ann McLerie, were founders of the State Street Ballet Company in Santa Barbara.
George Gaynes passed away on February 15, 2016, three months away from what would have been his 99th birthday on May 16.
Best known for his roles as Henry Warnimont on Punky Brewster (1984) and Commandant Eric Lassard in the Police Academy series.

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