George R. Robertson Dies: ‘Police Academy’s Chief Hurst Was 89

George R. Robertson, who played Chief Hurst (later Commissioner) in the first six Police Academy films during a half-century screen career, has died. He was 89. His family said he died January 29 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto but did not give other details.

Robertson had been working in TV and films for nearly 15 years when he was cast as the strict but fair Chief Henry Hurst in Police Academy, the 1984 cop farce starring Steve Guttenberg. The film was a left-field hit and went on to spawn a franchise that spanned seven films during the next decade, including one a year through 1989. He appeared in the first six but not the Moscow-set final one in 1994.

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The movies followed the antics of a group of misfit police recruits who are assembled after their city’s newly elected female mayor announced that the department must take on anyone who applies. Co-stars included Kim Cattrall, Bubba Smith, Debralee Scott and Michael Winslow.

Born on April 20, 1933, in Brampton, Ontario, Robertson began his career in theater before landing parts in films during the late 1960s. He guested on numerous TV series including The F.B.I. in the ’70s and eventually would appear in bit roles in three Best Picture Oscar nominees: Airport (1970), Norma Rae (1979) and JFK (1991).

He continued to work steadily on the big and small screens throughout the decades, with credits stretching to 2017. Along the way, Robertson was a series regular on the 1989-94 CTV drama series E.N.G. and recurred on the 2001 Showtime drama series Leap Years. He also played Vice President Dick Cheney in the 2006 ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11, Barry Goldwater in the 2000 Showtime miniseries The Reagans and the fictional U.S. president in National Lampoon’s Senior Trip (1995).

Robertson received the CBC’s 1993 Margaret Collier Award for his outstanding body of work on film or TV and was named Humanitarian of the Year at the 2004 Gemini Awards, presented by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television for “extraordinary compassion and community involvement [that has had] an enormous impact on the lives of children in Canada and around the world.” 

Robertson is survived by his wife of 61 years, Adele; daughter, Sarah Robertson (Steve Pulver); grandchildren Julia and William; step-grandchildren Ariel, Gabe, Maddie and Josh; and many other extended family members. A memorial is being planned for late March.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggest donations to Youth Without Shelter or UNICEF Canada.

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