Art Metrano, ‘Police Academy’ Actor and Comedian, Dies at 84

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Art Metrano, the actor best known for his role as Cmdt. Mauser, who was the butt of the jokes in Police Academy 2 and 3, died Wednesday of natural causes. He was 84

Metrano’s family said he died of natural causes at his home in Florida, the Hollywood Reporter said.

The actor and stand-up comedian started his acting career on Joanie Loves Chachi in 1982-83. Though he was poised for much bigger things after he landed the role of Cmdt. Mauser in two Police Academy films.

But a freak accident at home put his dreams of Hollywood stardom on hold. In 1989, Metrano fell off of a ladder while trying to repair his roof and shattered two vertebrae. He was a quadriplegic. Though, that didn’t stop his ambition. He turned his misfortune into the subject of a one-man show called Metrano’s Accidental Comedy. During which, he would stun audiences by getting out of his wheelchair and taking a few steps, the Hollywood reporter said.

“He was at the peak of his career when that happened, and then it just stopped,” his son told the publication. “But he managed to enjoy life and overcome adversity.”

Metrano first found fame as a comedic magician going by the name The Amazing Metrano. He appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson where he impressed the late-night king.

“I took my bow and there was Johnny waving me to his desk. I went, ‘Holy sh*t, I’m going to sit next to Johnny!’” Metrano told Kliph Nesteroff in 2015. “… He really loved it and became a big fan of mine. He propelled me and many others into having employment — not even a career — just employment. All of a sudden I was doing all these shows. It was just amazing.”

Art Metrano Loved to Entertain

Art Metrano was born in Brooklyn in 1936. He was a talented athlete and went on to play football at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California.

But he longed to perform. So, after college, he returned to his home state to study acting and perform as a comedian in the Catskills.

His talents were undeniable. Legendary director John Cassavetes and world-renown acting coach Stella Adler saw his potential, The Hollywood Reporter said. They helped Metrano get his first big break in the iconic 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Following that, he had a steady stream of acting work. But he would always return to his first love, the stand-up stage.

He had an illustrious career on television that spanned decades. He made guest appearances on shows such as Mod Squad, All in the Family, Bewitched, Starsky and Hutch, L.A. Law, and Hunter, among many others. He even made a few guest appearances on shows after his accident.

Survivors include his wife, Jamie, his first wife, Rebecca, children Harry, Zoe, Roxanne, and Howard, as well as several grandchildren 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 told the Hollywood Reporter.