Police Academy actor and comic Art Metrano has died at 84.
He was well-known for playing officer Ernie Mauser in two Police Academy films but his career was derailed in the late 1980s after a serious home accident left him partially paralyzed.
Sad: Actor Art Metrano died of natural causes yesterday at his home in Aventura, Florida. He was 84
‘Yesterday I lost my best friend, my mentor, my dad,’ Metrano’s son Harry Metrano posted today on Instagram.
‘He was and will always be the toughest man I know. I have never met someone who has over come more adversities than him.
‘He’s fought and won so much over the years that I always viewed him as indestructible, but the truth is we don’t live forever on earth, but a person’s spirit can live forever within you.’
Metrano ended his emotional post with a message directed to his late father.
‘Dad, you will always be a part of me and I will continue to live out your legacy,’ he wrote. ‘When someone came up with the quote, “legends never die,” I’m pretty sure they were talking about you dad.
Saying goodbye: ‘Yesterday I lost my best friend, my mentor, my dad,’ Metrano’s son Harry Metrano posted today on Instagram
‘He’s fought and won so much over the years that I always viewed him as indestructible, but the truth is we don’t live forever on earth, but a person’s spirit can live forever within you
Staying mobile: Harry included some recent photos of Art getting around on crutches and a wheelchair
‘I love you and miss you so much! One day I’ll see you again. Rest in Paradise. You’re now my guardian angel ❤️,’ he concluded.
Harry included some recent photos of his father, including one of the father–son duo dressed up.
The two shared a laugh in another candid photo, and Art held a young girl on his lap while seated in his wheelchair in a sweet picture.
Metrano’s career took off in the late 1960s when he made appearances on TV shows including Ironside, Mannix, The Mod Squad, and Bewitched, where he appeared on multiple episodes.
His first high-profile film role was in Sydney Pollack’s classic 1969 Depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, which starred Jane Fonda.
Prestigious career: Metrano rose to prominence with roles on The Mod Squad and Bewitched in the late ’60s, and his first major film role was 1969’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?; pictured with Robert Guillaume on Benson in 1979
In addition to acting, Metrano worked as a stand-up comedian.
A 1970 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson elevated his profile after he left the host in stitches with a routine in which he played a terrible magician whose magic tricks couldn’t fool anyone.
Although Metrano was supposed to leave the stage after the short routine, he got the coveted wave from Carson to sit next to him.
‘I took my bow and there was Johnny waving me to his desk. I went, “Holy s***, I’m going to sit next to Johnny!”‘ the actor said in a 2015 interview with Kliph Nesteroff. ‘It was a great moment. He really liked my act. He was an amateur magician and loved magic of all kinds. So we talked about that and then he brought me back several times.
He would go on to perform the routine numerous times, and it even inspired a joke on the animated comedy series Family Guy which led to a lawsuit from which he received what he described as ‘a very, very nice settlement.’
The routine helped Metrano secure a role as a nightclub entertainer in Elaine May’s 1972 comedy classic The Heartbreak Kid, which starred the late Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd and Jeannie Berlin.
He continued to appear in popular television shows throughout the decade, including All In The Family, Barney Miller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Starsky & Hutch and The Incredible Hulk.
Make ’em laugh: Metrano’s side work as a stand-up comedian got a boost after he left Johnny Carson in stitches during a 1970 Tonight Show appearance as a terrible magician whose tricks couldn’t fool anyone; seen in 1984 on Transitions
Metrano was best known as the long-suffering Lieutenant Mauser, who was often the butt of physical comedy, in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) and Police Academy 3: Back In Training (1986).
But Metrano’s career came to a screeching halt at that height of his fame when he was injured in a serious fall at his Los Angeles home
On September 17, 1989, he fell from a ladder while doing exterior work on his home.
During the fall he hit his head and broke three different vertebrae, which left him a quadriplegic.
Metrano made a remarkable recovery and regained the use of his arms and legs. He was again able to walk, though only for short distances and with the aid of crutches.
In 1989, he performed in the one-man stage show Metrano’s Accidental Comedy, which focused on his injuries and detailed his recovery.
Miraculous recovery: Metrano became a paraplegic in 1989 after falling from a ladder and breaking three vertebrae. He later regained the use of his arms and legs, though he mainly used a wheelchair; seen in 1986 in Las Vegas
Metrano would also look back on his career in the 1994 memoir Twice Blessed.
The comic’s post-injury roles included parts in How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), Chicago Hope and Party Of Five (both 1997).
Metrano is survived by his wife Jamie, as well as his four children
He is survived by wife Jamie, sons Harry and Howard, and daughters Zoe and Roxanne, and multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.