George Gaynes Dies At 98

Gaynes recurred from 1987-91 on the critically acclaimed NBC comedy “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd,” starring Blair Brown and Gaynes’ wife, actress Allyn Ann McLerie; he was a series regular, as Sen. Strobe Smithers, on the first season (1992-93) of Linda Bloodworth-Thomason-created CBS comedy “Hearts Afire,” starring John Ritter and Markie Post.

George Jongejans was born in Helsinki to a Russian mother and Dutch father. Actor Gregory Gaye, who played a Nazi official in “Casablanca,” was an uncle.

Young George was raised in France, England and Switzerland. World War II interrupted his burgeoning opera career. He was interned in Spain for three months; after his release, he traveled to the U.K. and enlisted in the Royal Dutch Navy.

After the war he went to New York, where he joined the New York City Opera. But he considered himself more an actor than a singer.

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He changed his last name to Gaynes and guested on TV series including “The Defenders,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Bonanza,” “Mannix,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Hawaii Five-0” and “Chicago Hope.” In addition he appeared on the daytime soaps “General Hospital” and “Search for Tomorrow.” Film credits included “The Way We Were,” “Altered States” and “Wag the Dog.”

He retired in 2003 after appearing in the feature comedy “Just Married,” starring Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy.

In addition to his wife, Gaynes is survived by a daughter; one granddaughter; and two great-granddaughters. His son, Matthew, died in a 1989 car crash.


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