The location used as the Academy campus was known as the Mimico Lunatic Asylum, from 1888 to 1979. Until it was acquired by Humber College in 1991, it remained abandoned and deteriorating, mainly used as a site for film making.
Director Hugh Wilson stated that when it came time to film the driving scene with Hightower at 4:30am, the actor originally cast as the angry driver was found passed out drunk in the trailer, so Hugh himself ended up playing the role of the angry driver Hightower runs into.
Michael Winslow (Jones), David Graf (Tackleberry) and George Gaynes (Cmdnt. Lassard) are the only actors who appeared in all 7 Police Academy movies. Winslow even goes a step beyond this, as he is the only actor to not only appear in all 7 Police Academy movies, but also had a regular role on Police Academy: The Series (1997).
Marion Ramsey was asked to wear a fat suit for her role as Hooks, with the idea that Hooks' boot camp training would have rendered her slim by the end of the film. Due to time constraints, the scene showing Hooks after her weight loss was removed from the final cut. By the time work on the sequel began, producers changed their minds, opting instead to have Marion remain wearing the fat suit in order to garner audience sympathy for her character. A brief shot of 'slim' Hooks remains in the film, however, as a close-up of Marion without the fat suit is seen during the graduates' march at the end of the film.
In the DVD 'making of' documentary, Marion Ramsey says she came up with Hooks' voice by reading the description of her character in the script, and recalling the time she met Michael Jackson. The voice is a parody of Jackson. She also recalls that in the moment where Hooks exclaims "Don't move, Dirtbag!" the sound techs were used to recording the "meek" voice and were surprised when she said the line so loud.
(at around 23 mins) When Jones (Michael Winslow) is knocked out of the door and tumbles down the stairs, he sits up and mimics some video game sounds. The game sounds he is mimicking are those from the popular 1980s video game Q*bert (1982).
(at around 1h 26 mins) When Hooks says "I'll bet there's a back door to this place", Marion Ramsey tries opening the door, only to find it jammed. After several attempts, she finally succeeds in getting the door open. This was unplanned, but kept in the film.
The "shoe polish on the megaphone" originated from a prank played on British director Michael Winner on the set of one of his movies. Director Hugh Wilson decided to use the gag after he heard the story from a crew member.
Paul Maslansky got the idea for Police Academy during production of The Right Stuff (1983). A group of police cadets arrived to help with crowd control for the filming of a street scene. When the cadets piled out of the buses to take their posts, they were diverse; men, women, tall, short, black, Chinese. Maslansky found it humorous, asking the sergeant, 'Are these all going to be future San Francisco's finest?' The sergeant looked at Paul and said that due to an equal opportunity recruitment policy, 'we've got to take them all into the academy, but we can flunk them out.' It started Maslansky thinking, 'What if they don't want to be flunked out? What if some guy or girl wants to stay in?' That night, Paul wrote a two-page treatment and gave it to the Ladd Company, who loved the idea, and agreed to develop the movie.
(at around 6 mins) Pay close attention to the scene when Barbara is floating down river in the camera booth: Before he passes under the bridge, the booth almost flips over. That was not planned (according to the DVD commentary). It really did almost flip over.
(at around 11 mins) Fackler's wife riding the hood of her spouse's car, to prohibit him from joining the police academy, (with Mrs. Fackler ultimately catapulted with an abrupt stop) was the start of a comedic tradition with the film series: The Parody On A Parody. Like so many gags, this one would be "recycled" for Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986): Now, with Fackler riding the hood of his car to prevent Mrs. Fackler from joining the Force; complete with the couple being spotted from the interior of a limousine.
Steve Guttenberg mentions in his biography, "The Guttenberg Bible", that Donovan Scott filmed home-movies during filming. According to Guttenberg, there is a 'very funny, touching, and unreleased documentary that he made of the shoot'.
According to the cast/film maker commentary, it was the film's producer, Alan Ladd Jr. who came up with the idea of having Mahoney be the recipient of the "podium gag" at the end, after watching dailies of Lassard's podium scene.
Robert Conrad was offered the role of Commandant Eric Lassard, but turned down the part, which he regretted later on, to the point that he took the part of the Police Chief in Moving Violations (1985) which was co-written and directed by Neal Israel, who also co-wrote this film.
(at around 25 mins) G.W. Bailey stated on the movie's DVD commentary that during the scene where he yells at Barbara "I could show a movie on your butt, fatso!", there was an improvised portion that did not make the final cut. The deleted scene saw Harris contemplating the movie he would like to watch on Barbara's backside. His choice: "Gigi (1958)".
Due to being filmed out of sequence, the head shaving scene of Scott Thomson and Brant von Hoffman caused problems when it was later determined that they would need to be shown arriving at the academy beforehand, with their full heads of hair intact. Producers worked their way around this by issuing wigs for all of Scott and Brant's scenes that play prior to the head shaving.
In the cast commentary, it's revealed that Larvell Jones was not in the original script. The part was immediately written for Michael Winslow after Hugh Wilson and the casting directors saw him open for Count Basie.
Hooks' first name Laverne is revealed in the closing credits, but is not mentioned in the films, until the scene where Hooks and Lt Callahan are at the police convention just before Captain Harris blows the whistle in Hooks face in Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach (1988).
David Graf had to choose between working on this film or Richard Benjamin's more critically acclaimed Racing with the Moon (1984). When David initially read the Police Academy script, he thought, "What trash." For three days, he sat and looked at the two scripts. Then, when Warner Brothers made him the offer, Graf said he knew which film was going to make money.
(at around 1h 18 mins) The name "Sweedchuk: Fine European Tailoring" appears on the window Fackler is looking in, when Tackleberry asks him how he's going. This was a play on the name of the film's set decorator, Steve Shewchuk. The name would reappear for Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) for the shopkeeper Sweetchuck, played by Tim Kazurinsky.
The Blue Oyster bar used in this movie is actually called the Silver Dollar Room, located on Spadina Avenue in Toronto. Coincidentally, Spadina Avenue is also home to Protocol Entertainment, the company that would later produce Police Academy: The Series (1997).
(at around 1h 21 mins) After Lassard and the cadets drive away from the rioting mob, they crash into the back of a meat truck which reads "Maslansky's Bologna". This is a reference to the film's producer Paul Maslansky.
While a guest on the podcast "The Gist," Bobcat Goldthwait said that in 2015, TMZ cornered Goldthwait on the street and, per their usual MO, tried to enrage him with insulting questions to try to get him to become enraged on camera. One of the questions they asked him was "should there be a Police Academy reboot?," but instead of becoming enraged, he answered with a mild "no," and continued to joke, "the problem is that a lot of the cast are dead" - which is not actually true. He also said that if they did do a reboot, "I think they should reboot it like they did 21 Jump Street (1987), and make it a comedy this time," and "the police are killing civilians right now; I don't know if it's really the time for a wacky police comedy, you know." TMZ removed the last comment from their broadcast.
Just before Mahoney catches up with Thompson and is chastised for pranking her, there is a public address announcement, requesting that a "Lieutenant Hoffman, report immediately to the infirmary." This is a reference to cast member Brant von Hoffman (Kyle Blankes).
(at around 12 mins) When Tackleberry arrives at the Academy he is seen wearing a green T-shirt with the text "MAC SOG" on it. MAC SOG is an abbreviation for "Military Assistance Command, Vietnam - Studies and Observations Group" which was a special operations unit during the Vietnam War, operating between 1964-1972. The unit performed reconnaissance, rescue missions, psychological warfare, intelligence gathering and overall clandestine operations.
(at around 7 mins) When Jones is in holding, and pretending to play the harmonica, an officer walks by with a boy wearing a M*A*S*H t-shirt. G.W. Bailey, who plays Harris, played Sgt. Rizzo on M*A*S*H (1972).
The magazine held by Leslie Barbara in both bathroom scenes (when Tackleberry gets slapped and when Reed and Copeland question Barbara) is the July, 1983 edition of Life Magazine with the cover story "National Parks in Peril".
Prior to making this movie, creator Paul Maslansky had produced 24 films without a solid hit. This movie earned as much money for The Ladd Company, as it lost on its preceding film The Right Stuff (1983). At the time, Maslansky said, "At last I don't have to worry about my children's education."
The original VHS videocassette release of the movie sold 107,000 copies in the first week of release. This, combined with the 82 million dollars the movie earned in ticket sales, prompted Warner Bros. to greenlight Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) and several other sequels.
Steve Guttenberg said of Mahoney in a 1984 interview, "I think he's a party guy. He doesn't really know what he is going to do with his life. But it is kind of hard to talk about him because he is not exactly a deep character. I really hate when actors get interviewed and they have just starred in The Love Boat (1977) or something and they go on for a month about motivation and character analysis. Police Academy set out to be light entertainment and that is what it is."
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
During filming of the rooftop scene where Harris and Mahoney are being held hostage, Bubba Smith was asked by director Hugh Wilson to open his mouth a little bit to make his cheeks and lips quiver for the line "I want to watch you off these pigs." But Smith would not open his mouth much. When Hugh asked why he would not open his mouth, Bubba responded that he had a gap in his front teeth. Wilson started laughing, revealing his own gap to be twice as big as Bubba's. Smith said that he would try it, and his gap ended up becoming one of Hightower's trademarks.