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Punky Brewster Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

"Punky Brewster" brought a lot of sunshine into the lives of Gen-Xers who followed the antics of the young foundling, her beloved dog, Brandon, and Henry, the crusty photographer who took her in when her mother abandoned her. Though the show only lasted for two seasons on NBC before being canceled, it was revived for two more through syndication. The cult-favorite sitcom kept kids in pigtails and mismatched socks from 1984 to 1988 and remains fondly remembered by many for its lighthearted, colorful nature. However, it's not like Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) didn't pack a punch sometimes.  Who among us doesn't still bear emotional scars from the episode where Cherie (Cherie Johnson) gets locked in her grandma's old refrigerator or the infamous outing where Punky has to grapple with the devastating emotional aftermath of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion?

The show just received a continuation series, which is currently streaming on Peacock. But which series regulars didn't live to see the reboot become a reality?  Keep on reading to find out.

George Gaynes was in the main cast as Punky's adoptive dad Henry

While the child actors who made up the main cast are still with us as of press time, it's probably not shocking for readers to learn that some of the show's older cast members have since passed on. 

George Gaynes, who played Punky's adoptive dad, the opera-loving photographer Henry Warnimont, passed away on February 15, 2016, at the ripe old age of 98, per The New York Times. Gaynes was a well-known character actor both before and after his time on "Punky Brewster." He began acting professionally in 1946 after stints in the Royal Dutch Navy and Royal Navy during World War II, and his theatrical credits include a tour as Henry Higgins in a 1964 production of "My Fair Lady." 

Outside of the show, he's likely best known to audiences as the oblivious John Van Horn from the 1982 film "Tootsie." He also had a recurring part as Commandant Eric Lassard in the "Police Academy" series of films.

Dody Goodman played Punky Brewster's teacher Mrs. Morton

Dody Goodman, a popular character actress who played Mrs. Morton, Punky's teacher during Season 1, died on June 22, 2008, of natural causes at the age of 93, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Goodman was a regular guest star on "The Tonight Show" during the 1950s. The show's then-host, Jack Paar, admitted that her quick-witted habit of upstaging him had left him "feel(ing) like the announcer on 'The Dody Goodman Show'" in his 1983 autobiography, P.S.: Jack Paar. But Goodman's ditzy public personae resulted in a series of notable supporting roles in the '60's, '70s, and '80s after she left the series. 

Audiences warmly remember her as Blanche in the "Grease" film series, and she also portrayed Mary Hartman's plant-loving mother, Mrs. Martha Shumway, in the soap opera parody "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." Children of the '80's will also remember her as Miss Miller, adoptive mom of the Chipettes, from NBC's "Alvin and the Chipmunks" animated series and 1987's "The Chipmunk Adventures" motion picture.

Andy Gibb had two memorable guest roles on Punky Brewster

Another one of the show's high-profile guest stars, singer Andy Gibb passed away from myocarditis in 1988 at only 30 years of age, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Gibb first appeared as himself as the emcee of a child beauty pageant in the episode "Miss Adorable," then showed up as Punky's dreamy piano teacher, Tony Glen, in the episode "Play it Again, Punky."

Soleil Moon Frye herself later admitted that she had a crush on Gibb in a Yahoo News interview conducted in February 2021. "One of the things that stands out most to me is that he was so kind and loving ... He just emanated love. And I carry that with me for all these years," she told the news outfit.

Andy, who was the younger brother to Bee Gees members Robin, Barry, and Maurice, had a major singing career of his own in the 1970s.  His songs "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" and "(Love Is) Thicker than Water" hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart in the United States in 1977, followed up by another chart-topping hit, "Shadow Dancing," in 1978.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler taught Punky to box like a pro

More recently, boxer "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler, a middleweight champion who appeared on the Season 2 episode "The K.O. Kid," passed away on March 13, 2021 at the age of 66, according to The New York Times. His official website attributes his passing to natural causes.

On the show, Punky Brewster enlists Hagler — visiting her school at the behest of her new teacher, Mike — to teach her how to fight after she's been beaten up by the class bully. Hagler agrees to train the kid in the pugilistic arts, but it takes teamwork and the entire class standing up to Moose McGirt (Amy Dolan) to finally put the bully in her place.

Hagler retired from the boxing ring in 1987 with a 62-3-2 record, having turned pro in 1973. He held the World Middleweight Title from 1980 to 1987, losing to "Sugar" Ray Leonard in a controversial judges' decision.