Art Metrano, a stand-up comedian best known for playing callous police captain Ernie Mauser in the second and third “Police Academy” films, has passed away. He was 84.
The Brooklyn-born funnyman died of natural causes at his Aventura, Florida home on Wednesday, his son told the Hollywood Reporter.
In addition to his roles in the 1985 and 1986 installments of the comedic cop series, Metrano also appeared in the 1982 “Happy Days” spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachi” and guest-starred on “All in the Family,” “Bewitched,” “Starsky and Hutch” and “Mod Squad,” among other TV shows.
A Bensonhurst native, Metrano began his career studying acting with Stella Adler and John Cassavetes and doing stand-up in the Catskills, according to THR. His big break came when a producer for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” invited him onto the show in 1970 after seeing his mock magic act “The Amazing Metrano” on a late-night California variety show.
Carson was so delighted by Metrano’s performance on his show that he fell out of his chair with laughter and began opening doors for the curly-haired Brooklynite.
“He really loved it and became a big fan of mine,” Metrano said in a 2015 interview. “All of a sudden I was doing all these shows. It was just amazing.”
Then, at the height of his success in 1989, while working on the roof of his Los Angeles home, he fell off a ladder and fractured three vertebrae, rendering him a quadriplegic.
“He was at the peak of his career when that happened, and then it just stopped,” his son told THR. “But he managed to enjoy life and overcome adversity.”
He eventually even turned his trauma into a one-man play called “Metrano’s Accidental Comedy,” which he performed from a motorized wheelchair.
He is survived by his wife, four children and both grand- and great-grandchildren.
“Art would want all of his friends and family to continue to smile when they think of him and to laugh and continue on celebrating life,” his family said.