George Gaynes Dies; Beloved Actor Was 98

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George Gaynes - the actor best known for his roles in the film Tootsie and the television show Punky Brewster - has passed away at the age of 98.

George Gaynes

According to TMZ, Gaynes passed away quietly at his daughter's house in Washington on Monday night.

Born in Finland in 1917, Gaynes first gained fame as an opera singer in Europe. He fought for the UK's Royal Navy in World War II before emigrating to the US and becoming an American citizen.

Gaynes built a career as a lead in musical comedies on Broadway, which included a stint as Henru Higgins in 1 964 production of My Fair Lady.  

But it was on the screen where Gaynes would make his most lasting impression.

Beginning with his roles in Tootsie and the Police Academy films, Gaynes quickly became one of the most recognizable comedic character actors of the 1980s.

His diverse career saw him taking on plenty of television work as well, starring as a foster parent of the title character on the NBC sitcom Punky Brewster, and being featured in recurring roles on General Hospital and Sliders.

Gaynes also experienced success behind the camera, directing such noteworthy television events as the final episode of WKRP in Cincinnati.

He is survived by his two children and his wife of 53 years.