George Gaynes, a multifaceted character actor best known for his role on Punky Brewster as the titular character's adoptive father, died Monday at his daughter's home in North Bend, Wash., the New York Times reports. He was 98.
Gaynes was born George Jongejans in Helsinki, Finland. He served in the Royal Dutch Navy during World War II, and then moved to New York, where he worked as an opera singer and Broadway actor. He became a frequent guest star on TV during the '60s and '70s, appearing on shows including Mission: Impossible and Hawaii Five-0, and had a long career appearing in plays, television shows and movies.
But he found his greatest success in his 60s, starting with 1982's Tootsie, in which he played John Van Horn, a soap opera star who falls for Dustin Hoffman in drag. In 1984, he starred as the put-upon commander in the first Police Academy movie (and appeared in its six sequels as well).
These roles led to his casting in Punky Brewster, which ran for four seasons between 1984 and 1988. Gaynes played Henry Warnimont, a grouchy building manager who finds 8-year-old Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) living in an empty apartment and becomes her foster parent and, eventually, her adoptive father.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Allyn Ann McLerie; a daughter; a granddaughter and two great-granddaughters.