George Gaynes in one of the most loved figures to have worked in Hollywood. The renowned actor and singer has been immortalized through his performance in the theatres of Broadway and on the screen. Gaynes was born in Helsinki in 1917 when it was still a part of the Russian Empire. He was born into a Finnish family and christened George Jongejans, a name he would later change to adopt his uncle and famed actor, Gregory Gaye’s title. He was raised in a very culturally enriched atmosphere, and he received musical training in Milan’s finest schools. When the Second World War erupted, a young Gaynes found himself on the run with his family. They escaped the German occupation, and he enlisted himself in the Dutch navy where his being multilingual put him to use as a translator. He rose in ranks, and he was a part of several important operations. He was honorably discharged with an exemplary war record in 1946. Immediately after, he found himself in the cast of the popular Broadway musical, ‘The Consul.’ This performance was to be the start of a long and successful career as an actor.
Gaynes became an American citizen and he dazzled the crowds of
with his brilliance on stage, both in comedies and dramas. He had started as an opera singer during the pre-war years, but his thespian talents did not go unappreciated. His most notable musicals were in ‘Wonderful Town,’ ‘My Sister Eileen,’ and ‘My Fair Lady.’ His growing popularity saw got him roles in television and cinema. He was seen in films like ‘Marooned,’ ‘The Group,’ and ‘Tootsie.’ He is probably best remembered as the benevolent and klutzy inspector, Commandant Lassard, from the ‘Police Academy’ movie series. The seven movie comedy has today become a cult classic. In 1960, he began appearing in widely watched television shows like ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,’ ‘Search for Tomorrow,’ ‘General Hospital,’ and ‘Punky Brewster.’ Gaynes created for himself a vast legacy with over 60 years in the film and theatre industry. The world lost a brilliant performer and a great man in 2016 when he passed away at the age of 98.