Stand-up comedian and actor Art Metrano (Police Academy) died this past Wednesday (September 8). He died from natural causes in his home at Aventura, Florida. The 84-year-old’s death was confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter by his son Harry Metrano.
The Police Academy star had a long career through the 1960s to the early 2000s. From his known stand-up show Metrano’s Accidental Comedy to his stint in shows like Bewitched, The Tim Conway Comedy Hour, and Joanie Loves Chachi, the actor had a wide range of various comedic projects.
Art Metrano was the high-ranking cop Ernie Mauser in the second and third Police Academy movies; 1985’s Their First Assignment and 1986’s Back in Training. He did not appear in the sequels that came out every year until 1987’s sixth entry, City Under Siege, and after a gap, 1994’s Mission to Moscow was the seventh and final installment of the franchise.
Rewinding to before his role in Police Academy was his gig The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where he performed as The Amazing Metrano in 1970. This sent the trajectory of his career upward as he performed magic tricks with a comedic twist. Carson thought he was so funny that he was kept on, despite the show running too late and him being urged to leave.
Outside of the goofy Police Academy sequels that the comedian starred in, he was known for playing Uncle Rico Mastorelli in Joanie Loves Chachi. Rico was the manager of a rock band that included his nephew Chachi (Scott Baio) and niece Joanie (Erin Moran). He appeared in 16 out of the 17 episodes of the ABC sitcom that ran from 1982 to 83. It was a spin-off of Happy Days, which starred Ron Howard (Arrested Development) and Henry Winkler (Barry).
The life of the star was turned upside down on September 17, 1989. While working on the roof of his home in Los Angeles, he fell off the ladder. He fractured his first, second, and seventh vertebrae, causing him to be a quadriplegic. He overcame that and continued strong with his career. He made brief appearances in shows like Gatchaman, L.A. Law, and Police Academy: The Series. This is where he also started his one-man show Metrano’s Accidental Comedy, which saw him stand from his wheelchair and take a few steps.
Most of the roles after the accident for the Brooklyn-born actor were small and did impact his career. He was in one episode of the Police Academy show, and with his small roles through the 90s and 00s, he had his final credited role in Good Advice, which starred Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men), Angie Harmon (Rizzoli & Isles), and Jon Lovitz (Saturday Night Live).
In 2005, he sued the producers of the Family Guy direct-to-DVD movie Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story. He claimed that they had stolen bits from his Amazing Metrano routine. The Police Academy actor received a hefty settlement for an undisclosed amount.
The stand-up comedian and Police Academy star is survived by his wife, Jamie; his first wife, Rebecca; children Harry (and his wife, Melissa), Zoe (Mark), Roxanne and Howard; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.