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Whatever Happened To The Cast Of Police Academy

One of the great staples of the comedy films of the 1980s is the idea that a group of misfit underdogs can, when they band together, achieve great things. What started with "Animal House" in 1978 later gave us "Revenge of the Nerds," "Wildcats," and, in 1984, "Police Academy."

The story of a group of cadets who join the local police academy after the mayor opens up admission to anyone, "Police Academy" is a classic example of the team of underdogs comedy trope. It was one of the most successful films of 1984 and became one of the most ubiquitous franchises of the 1980s, spawning six sequels (five of which were produced in the same decade) and a short-lived television series in the late 1990s. Today, the "Police Academy" series still has devoted fans, and it holds a prominent enough place in pop culture that an eighth film is reportedly in development. So in celebration of the decades of nutty hijinks that transpired in and around the "Police Academy" franchise, here's a look at what the cast is up to today.

Steve Guttenberg - Cadet Carey Mahoney

Steve Guttenberg was already gaining plenty of traction in his screen acting career thanks to films like "Diner" and TV series like "Billy" by the time the role of Carey Mahoney in "Police Academy" came to him. Guttenberg's lovable scoundrel performance in the film helped make it a hit — and helped launch him into some of the biggest films of the 1980s.

Throughout the rest of the decade he starred in three "Police Academy" sequels as well as "Short Circuit," "Cocoon," and "3 Men and a Baby." He continued working regularly in the 1990s in comedy and family films like "The Big Green," "Home for the Holidays," and "It Takes Two," and in the 2000s he won a role in cult favorite TV series "Veronica Mars." Today he continues acting regularly, and in 2017 he started appearing alongside Dwayne Johnson in the HBO series "Ballers." In 2002, he moved behind the camera, making his directorial debut with an adaptation of James Kirkwood Jr.'s play "P.S. Your Cat Is Dead."

Kim Cattrall - Cadet Karen Thompson

By the time "Police Academy" arrived in theaters, Kim Cattrall had already co-starred in one classic of the 1980s, playing a somewhat infamous role in the 1981 comedy "Porky's." As cadet Karen Thompson she got to become a little more of a fully-fledged character, which led to more high-profile films throughout the rest of the decade — though she didn't return for any of the "Police Academy" sequels.

Cattrall followed up "Police Academy" with roles in "Big Trouble in Little China," "Mannequin," "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," and more, but the role of her life was yet to come. In 1998 she was cast as Samantha Jones in the HBO comedy "Sex and the City," and her performance as the sex-positive, outrageous member of the show's key foursome made her a fan favorite. She remained with the show throughout its six-season run on HBO, and later returned as Samantha for two feature films. Since "Sex and the City" ended, she has continued working regularly, including roles in the TV series "Producing Parker," "Sensitive Skin," "Modus," and "Tell Me a Story."

G.W. Bailey - Lt. Thaddeus Harris

G.W. Bailey was already an established character actor — with guest starring roles on "St. Elsewhere," "M*A*S*H," "Goodnight, Beantown" and more — when he was cast as the brutal Lt. Harris in "Police Academy." The role further cemented his reputation as a character actor who could play authority figures and as an actor who could play comedy, and more roles followed. He continued to play Lt. Harris in all of the six "Police Academy" sequels, and has worked regularly ever since.

Among Bailey's numerous screen credits in the decades since "Police Academy" are the films "Short Circuit," "Mannequin," and a voice role in the animated "Home on the Range." He has appeared even more frequently on television, including the miniseries "War and Remembrance" and the series "The Jeff Foxworthy Show," "Murder, She Wrote," "American Dreams," and "The Closer." In "The Closer," he played LAPD Detective Lieutenant Louie Provenza for 109 episodes, then crossed the character over into the TNT drama series "Major Crimes," where he played the character for another 105 episodes until the series ended in 2018.

Michael Winslow - Cadet Larvell Jones

Michael Winslow started appearing in films in 1980, and co-starred in two Cheech & Chong films — "Cheech & Chong's Next Movie" and "Nice Dreams" — before "Police Academy" rolled around in 1984. As cadet Larvelle Jones, Winslow's incredible talent for generating seemingly any sound effect with only his mouth made him one of the standout stars, and cemented his place in the pop culture of the 1980s. Winslow continued to play Jones in every subsequent sequel. He also returned to play Larvelle Jones as a police sergeant in the "Police Academy" TV series in 1997.

Outside the "Police Academy" franchise, Winslow has kept busy ever since, with roles in "The Love Boat," "Spaceballs," "Harry and the Hendersons" and more. Unsurprisingly, he's also a gifted voice actor who has loaned his talents to the "New Kids on the Block" animated series, "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," "Robot Chicken" and more. He's also a gifted stand-up comedy performer and released a concert film — "Michael Winslow Live" — in 1999. In addition to acting, Winslow is also a musician who has released his own music and collaborated with acts including Run the Jewels and Victor Wooten.

George Gaynes - Commandant Eric Lassard

George Gaynes' screen acting credits already stretched back nearly 30 years by the time he was cast as Commandant Lassard in "Police Academy," and his work included roles in "Rich Man, Poor Man – Book II," "Washington: Behind Closed Doors," and "Tootsie." Playing Lassard — the somewhat clueless but benevolent commander of the police academy — brought Gaynes a new level of visibility for 1980s moviegoers, and it was the first step toward a new level of stardom.

That new stardom also included a leading role in the sitcom "Punky Brewster," in which he played Henry Warnimont for 86 episodes, and voiced the character again in an animated spinoff series. Between "Police Academy" and "Punky Brewster," Gaynes became an icon of 1980s pop culture. He continued working regularly throughout the 1990s with roles in "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd," "Hearts of Fire," and more, and continued to play Lassard in all six "Police Academy" sequels as well as a brief appearance in the TV series.

By the end of the 1990s Gaynes had largely retired from screen acting, and his last appearance was a brief role in the 2003 comedy "Just Married." He died February 15, 2016 at the age of 98.

David Graf - Cadet Eugene Tackleberry

David Graf spent several years working primarily as a guest actor on episodes of various TV series before he was cast in the career-defining role of Tackleberry in "Police Academy." Tackleberry, a gung-ho security guard who couldn't wait to join the police force and seemed to always be armed and ready to shoot something, was a key archetype in the original film, and became one of the franchise's most recognizable characters. Graf returned to reprise the role for all six sequels, and co-starred in the "Police Academy" television series in the late 1990s.

Though Tackleberry was his most famous role, it was far from his only one. Graf continued working regularly in film and television throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 1986 he co-starred in the short-lived sitcom "He's The Mayor," and in the 1990s and early 2000s he appeared frequently in TV series including "Elvis," "Beauty and the Beast," "Seinfeld," "Home Improvement," "Step by Step," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and "High Tide." He was also an accomplished voice actor, appeared in series and video games including "Aaahh! Real Monsters!," "The Wild Thornberrys," and "Star Trek: Invasion." He died suddenly from a heart attack on April 7, 2001, at the age of 50.

Leslie Easterbrook - Sgt. Debbie Callahan

Before "Police Academy," Leslie Easterbrook was best known for playing Rhonda Lee, the neighbor of the title characters of the hit sitcom "Laverne & Shirley," for its final three seasons between 1980 and 1983. As Sgt. Callahan in "Police Academy," she played the tough-as-nails woman in a man's job who also had a secret side, and while she didn't return for "Police Academy 2," she did reprise her role for the remaining five sequels and the TV series, by which time Callahan had become a district attorney.

After "Police Academy," Easterbrook continued working regularly, racking up dozens of television appearances in the 1980s and 1990s, including guest spots on "Murder, She Wrote," "Hanging with Mr. Cooper," "Hunter," "Matlock," "Baywatch," and more. In 2005 she took over the role of Mother Firefly in Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects," and since then has become something of a scream queen, appearing in horror films including Zombie's own "Halloween" remake, "House," "The Afflicted," "Sorority Party Massacre," and more.

Donovan Scott - Cadet Leslie Barbara

Donovan Scott's screen acting career began with a number of smaller roles in films (including playing Castor Oyl in "Popeye"), TV movies and TV series before he was cast as Leslie Barbara — the man with two girl's names who had to prove he could stand up to bullies — in "Police Academy." Like Cattrall, Scott was one of the original cast members who did not return for other installments in the franchise.

Since "Police Academy," Scott has worked regularly in film and television. His film roles include "Back to the Future Part III," "Psycho III," "Splash, Too," "Blast from the Past," and more, while his TV roles include "Life with Lucy," "Alaska Kid," "Babylon 5," "Boston Legal," "My Name is Earl," and many others. In recent years, Scott has taken a liking to playing Santa Claus, and frequently appears as Santa in various films and television series. His many Santa appearances include episodes of "Frasier," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "The Middle," "Life In Pieces," and "Superstore," as well as TV movies like "Northpole: Open for Christmas" and "Santa Switch."

Scott Thomson - Cadet Chad Copeland

"Police Academy" is notable for having not only an ensemble of likable hero characters, but a similar ensemble of unlikable villainous characters, including Lt. Harris and his two cadet goons, one of whom was Scott Thomson's cadet Chad Copeland. Thomson — who before "Police Academy" also appeared in another '80s classic, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" — hasn't appeared in as many "Police Academy" installments as some of his co-stars, but he still reprised the role, skipping out on "Police Academy 2" before returning for "Police Academy 3: Back in Training" and "Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol."

Thomson has continued working in film and television since the franchise. His TV roles include "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Hunter," "Parker Lewis Can't Lose," and "True Blood," while his film roles include "Jack Frost," "Vamps," "Night of the Living Dead 3-D: Re-Animation," and "Greater." He also matched "Police Academy" with an appearance in one of the most popular films of the 1990s, playing the classical music-blaring storm chaser Preacher in "Twister" alongside Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton.

Bubba Smith - Hightower

An imposing figure but a lovable guy, Moses Hightower is probably the most memorable and beloved character from the entire "Police Academy" franchise. It's the signature role of Charles "Bubba" Smith, an NFL star in the 1960s and 1970s who pivoted to playing tall tough guys on sitcoms and in movies. Following "Police Academy," Smith reprised his role in five sequel movies and the spinoff TV show, co-starred on short-lived shows including "Blue Thunder" and "Half Nelson," and turned in cameo appearances as himself in "Gremlins 2," "Who's the Boss," "Married...with Children," and "Coach."

In August 2011, per the BBC, 66-year-old Smith was found dead at his Los Angeles home. According to the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. County Coroner's office conducted an autopsy that concluded the actor died of an overdose of weight-loss medication and also suffered from blocked arteries, high blood pressure, and an enlarged heart.

Marion Ramsey - Hooks

After a couple of sitcom and soap opera gigs in the late 1970s, Marion Ramsey finally found a breakout role as the squeaky-voiced and deceptively powerful cadet Laverne Hooks. She made her debut as Hooks in 1984's "Police Academy" and went on to reprise the role in five sequels, becoming a firm fan favorite. She didn't appear in the final "Police Academy" movie, 1994's "Mission to Moscow," because producers couldn't find a place for her character. This came as bad news for Ramsey, who was going through financial troubles at the time. She would ultimately take out a loan from "Police Academy" co-star Bubba Smith, who dropped out of the film over Ramsey's omission.

Ramsey would ride out the '90s and early 2000s with small parts and voice acting work, popping up on "Beverly Hills, 90210," "The Nanny," "Robot Chicken," and the animated TV version of "The Addams Family." Her last role came in the musical docudrama "When I Sing" in 2018, preceding her death in 2021. She was 73.

Ted Ross - Captain Reed

Carey Mahoney, the central character and main new recruit in "Police Academy," gets into the law enforcement program because of his connections to Captain Reed, the one-time boss of his father. Reed sets the plot of the movie in motion, offering Mahoney a choice of punishment for his crimes: He can go to prison, or he can go legit by joining the Academy.

Actor Ted Ross — who was probably best known for his Tony Award-winning work as the Lion in the Broadway musical "The Wiz" and its 1978 film adaptation — played Captain Reed in the first "Police Academy," but he didn't return for any of the sequels. He wrapped up a long career in show business not long after the film's 1984 release with appearances in "Arthur 2: On the Rocks" (reprising the role of the chauffeur Bitterman from the first "Arthur"), "Stealing Home," and "The Fisher King." He retired from acting in 1991 and moved back to his hometown of Dayton, Ohio. In 1997, he opened a jazz club called Your Place, where he'd perform on occasion. After suffering a stroke in 1998 that left him homebound, Ross died at age 68 in 2002.

Don Lake - Mr. Wig

The character "Mr. Wig" makes a brief but important appearance in the first "Police Academy" movie: It's his car that Carey Mahoney wrecks while working as a parking lot attendant. He shows up at the lot and demands that Mahoney find a space for his car, despite the fact that the place is full. When Mahoney's boss sides with the rude customer and orders him to park the car, he smashes it between two other vehicles. Mahoney's boss can't believe his eyes and neither can Mr. Wig, who is played by Don Lake.

After "Police Academy," Lake established himself as a recognizable character actor, becoming a familiar face with appearances in a number of major comedies. Lake was a member of the troupe associated with the mockumentaries of Christopher Guest, and co-starred in "Waiting for Guffman," "A Mighty Wind," "For Your Consideration," and "Mascot" while also popping up in "Hot Shots!" and "Return to Me," which he co-wrote with frequent collaborator Bonnie Hunt. Lake wrote for Hunt's talk show and sitcom "Life With Bonnie," and they played the parents of Officer Judy Hopps in Disney's "Zootopia." More recently, Lake appeared on "Space Force" as incompetent general Brad Gregory.

Bruce Mahler - Doug Fackler

Cadet Doug Fackler is responsible for some of the wackiest antics in the first "Police Academy" movie. Prone to accidents and leaving destruction in his wake, all while being largely unaware of his actions, Fackler throws away an apple, which hits a biker, which leads to a gang fight and a riot. And yet he still manages to make it onto the police force. He's played to perfection by Bruce Mahler.

After his screen comedy career was launched in earnest as a member of the cast of ABC's late night sketch show "Fridays," Mahler played Sgt. Doug Fackler in four "Police Academy" movies (numbers one, two, three, and six). He went on to play some small parts on TV and in movies before finding his second recognizable role: Rabbi Glickman, a friend and counselor to Elaine Benes on "Seinfeld." He hasn't been in a feature film since he played a small part in 2000's "Scary Movie," preferring instead to spend time with his family and raise border terrier dogs.

Debralee Scott - Violet Fackler

Violet Fackler knows that her husband Doug has a tendency to slip up and create mayhem. In one memorable scene from the first "Police Academy," she jumps on the hood of her husband's car to prevent him from driving to the academy sign-ups, only to get hurt in the process. By the third film, Violet Fackler is a police recruit, too.

"Police Academy" is an iconic '80s movie, and Debralee Scott (who played Violet Fackler) was an iconic television personality in her day: She made frequent appearances on the celebrity-powered game shows of the era, including "Chain Reaction," "Match Game," and "Password Plus." As a young actor, she had a recurring role on "Welcome Back, Kotter," playing the tough teen Rosalie "Hotsy" Totsie, and she also played the title character's sister, Cathy Shumway, on the soap spoof "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."

Scott's career came to an end not long after she reprised the role of Violet Fackler (now a cadet) in 1986's "Police Academy 3: Back in Training." She focused on her personal life and became engaged to New York City police officer Dennis Levi, who died at the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to Contact Music. Scott's family reported that the tragedy sent the retired actor into a depression that led her to drink heavily, which resulted in cirrhosis of the liver. Scott died in April 2005 at age 52.

Andrew Rubin - George Martin

Almost every '80s ensemble comedy movie featured the cocky, self-styled ladies' man character, and in "Police Academy," that figure is Cadet George Martin. His main arc as an officer isn't one of finding a job or personal purpose, but one of romance: He's ditching his relentless pursuit of as many young women as possible (by taking on a fake Spanish accent) in order to get together with trainer Debbie Callahan.

Andrew Rubin was a seasoned character actor by the time he played Cadet George Martin in the first "Police Academy," a career peak that followed stints on '70s TV shows like "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," "Shazam!", "S.W.A.T.," "The Odd Couple," and "The Jeffersons." After "Police Academy," Rubin landed main cast parts on the short-lived drama series "Hometown" and "Joe Bash," then walked away from acting for about a decade to head up multiple non-profit and humanitarian organizations. In 2015, Rubin died of lung cancer at the age of 69, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Doug Lennox - Main Bad Guy

The main bad guy of the original "Police Academy" movie is never given a name. Instead, he's a common, intimidating, leather-jacket-and-beanie-clad street thug caricature officially listed in the credits as "Main Bad Guy." He's seemingly a powerful figure on the crime-ravaged streets of the unnamed city in "Police Academy" and clearly not afraid of the authorities: He tries to kill Hightower, and he takes Harris and Mahoney hostage.

The part of Main Bad Guy was played by prolific character actor and bit player Doug Lennox, who returned to the series in "Police Academy 3: Back in Training" to portray "Axe Murderer." He notched a few dozen credits in his time, most notably popping up in "X-Men," "Lars and the Real Girl," and "Against the Ropes." He appeared in numerous television shows produced in his native Canada, including "My Secret Identity," "Night Heat," "Top Cops," and "Due South." Also a radio host and an author — he compiled four books in the "Now You Know" trivia series — Lennox died in 2015 at age 77.

Brant von Hoffman - Kyle Blankes

For some reason, Cadet Kyle Blankes is one of the favorite new recruits of Lt. Harris, probably because he gets under the skin of Carey Mahoney and crudely bullies some of the more sensitive new police officers. He becomes a crony of Lt. Harris, ratting on misbehavior and earning the disrespect of his fellow cops.

Portraying Cadet Kyle Blankes in "Police Academy" was the first feature film work for actor Brant von Hoffman, and he returned to the franchise for 1986's "Police Academy 3: Back in Training." He'd dabble in film and television over the next two decades, showing up in the films "Guarding Tess," "Blast from the Past," and "Dudley Do-Right," and on the TV series "Home Improvement," "Arli$$," and "Arrested Development." He hasn't acted on screen since 2004, having moved into a career as a writer. With his brother, Todd von Hoffmann, the former actor wrote two humorous pop culture compendiums: "Big Damn Book of Sheer Manliness" and "Bigger Damner Book of Sheer Manliness."

George R. Robertson - Chief Hurst

Chief of police in the unidentified city of "Police Academy" and then later police commissioner, Henry Hurst is the institutional antagonist of the franchise, at least initially. He's adamantly against his mayor's idea to open up the Police Academy to a wider variety of candidates. He hatches the plan to make them all quit, but after it doesn't work, comes to appreciate the new cadets.

The acting career of George R. Robertson is notable for two things — portraying Henry Hurst in six "Police Academy" movies between 1984 and 1989 (as well as the 1997-98 "Police Academy" TV series), and for playing politicians, both fictional and real. Robertson was President Davis in "Senior Trip," Sen. Barry Goldwater in "The Reagans," and Vice President Dick Cheney in "The Path to 9/11." Robertson stopped taking on as many roles when he reached his eighties (he was born in 1933), having last appeared in a made-for-TV movie, "Cradle to Grave," in 2017.

According to Robertson's family, via a post on the memorial site Legacy, the actor died on January 29, 2023, at a hospital in Toronto. Robertson was 89 years old.

John Hawkes - Tesky Truck Driver

Becoming a police officer brings purpose and confidence to the life of Cadet Leslie Barbara, a mild-mannered sad sack who at the outset of "Police Academy" is consistently tormented by a gang of adult bullies driving around town in an old Mask Teskey pickup truck. Their biggest prank: The truck-based bullies toss Leslie, and the photo developing kiosk where he works, off a bridge and into a river.

The uncredited role of the ringleader, "Driver of Teskey Truck," marked the screen debut of actor John Hawkes, a hard-working, chameleonesque performer who by the early 2000s would establish himself as an icon of indie cinema and prestige television. He portrayed 19th century hardware store operator Sol Star on HBO's "Deadwood" and Dustin, the laid-back brother of baseball player Kenny Powers, on "Eastbound and Down." Hawkes was among the ensemble casts of Oscar-nominated dramas like "The Sessions" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," and earned an Academy Award nomination of his own for his work as a drug addict in "Winter's Bone."

Hugh Wilson - Angry Driver

One comical "Police Academy" scene serves primarily to show just how big and intimidating the character of Cadet Moses Hightower can be, as he's played by the big and intimidating Bubba Smith. Hightower accidentally hits another car from behind during a driving lesson, prompting a character logically billed as "Angry Driver" to rant and rave at whoever struck him — only to run away when he realizes that Hightower could easily hurt him.

"Angry Driver" marked the first film role for Hugh Wilson, who also made his movie directing debut with "Police Academy." According to the Archive of American Television, producers hired Wilson to heavily rewrite the original screenplay by Neil Israel and Pat Proft, and to sweeten the deal, let him direct it, too. At that point, Wilson was new to film, having only written the screenplay for Burt Reynolds' "Stroker Ace" following a four-year stint as staff writer for the television classic "WKRP in Cincinnati," which he also created. After "Police Academy," Wilson directed many more mainstream comedy films, including "Burglar," "Guarding Tess," "The First Wives Club," and "Dudley Do-Right." Wilson retired from show business in 2004, and he died in 2018 at age 74.