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George R. Robertson, the Canadian actor who portrayed the police chief and later police commissioner Henry Hurst in the first six Police Academy films, has died. He was 89.
Robertson died Sunday at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, his family announced.
Robertson also showed up in small roles in three films that were nominated for the best picture Oscar — Airport (1970), Norma Rae (1979) and JFK (1991) — and portrayed vice president Dick Cheney in the 2006 ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11.
Robertson appeared as Hurst in 1994 in the first Police Academy movie, directed by Hugh Wilson, and stuck around through Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989). His character grows more tolerant of the wacky recruits led by Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes) as the franchise moves along.
The actor did not make the trip to Moscow for the 1994 installment but was on one episode of the 1997-98 Police Academy series at CTV.
George Ross Robertson was born on April 20, 1933, in Brampton, Ontario. He exceled at hockey and football and in 1952 received from West Hill High School the Allan Hall Memorial Trophy, “presented each year to the athlete who sets a high standard in clean sportsmanship and who, through precept and example, inspires his teammates to greater achievement.”
He earned his master’s degree in business in 1959 at New York’s Columbia University and then began his acting career on the stage. He made his onscreen debut with an uncredited role in Rosemary’s Baby (1969) and played a minor-league hockey coach in Paperback Hero (1973), starring Keir Dullea.
During his 60-year career, Robertson played lots of authority figures. He portrayed Adm. William Leahy in the 1995 Showtime telefilm Hiroshima, and in 2003 TV movies, he was Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater in Showtime’s The Reagans, starring James Brolin and Judy Davis, and Arkansas Sen. William Fulbright in FX’s The Pentagon Papers, starring James Spader.
His big-screen résumé also included National Lampoon’s Senior Trip (1995), Murder at 1600 (1997) and Still Mine (2012).
The CBC presented him with its Margaret Collier Award in 1993 for his outstanding body of work.
Robertson walked the length of southwest France, a distance of 328 miles, to raise money for an orphanage in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and as Chief Hurst, he traveled across Canada speaking to high school kids as a UNICEF ambassador (he received the Danny Kaye UNICEF Canada Award in 1990).
He also was given a Gemini Award as Humanitarian of the Year in 2004, honored for the impact he had on children in Canada and around the world.
His later life was devoted to painting and writing.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Adele (they met at Columbia); daughters Sarah (and her husband, Steve) and Ellen (Mitch); grandchildren Julia and William; and step-grandchildren Ariel, Gabe, Maddie and Josh.
Donations in his memory can be made to Youth Without Shelter or UNICEF Canada. A memorial will take place in late March.
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