Police Academy director Hugh Wilson dies aged 74


Hugh Wilson in 2014Image copyright
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Wilson started out as a writer before turning to directing

Hugh Wilson, the director of the first Police Academy film and the creator of US sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, has died aged 74.

Born in Miami in 1943, his other films include The First Wives Club, Guarding Tess and Blast from the Past.

Wilson started out as a comedy writer on Bob Newhart and Tony Randall’s 1970s TV shows and was originally hired to “punch up” Police Academy’s script.

Wilson agreed on condition he could also direct the film.

Filmed in Toronto, the 1984 original followed the fortunes of a mismatched group of misfits training to become police officers.

It went on to spawn six sequels and a TV series.

Police Academy: Where are they now?

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  • Steve Guttenberg played reluctant recruit Carey Mahoney, a role he reprised in three sequels. He went on to star in such films as Cocoon and Three Men and a Baby and was recently seen in HBO series Ballers.
  • Kim Cattrall played Karen Thompson, a bored socialite who joins the academy to see a different side of life. The actress went on to play Samantha Jones in Sex and the City but recently ruled out appearing in the show’s third big-screen outing.
  • Former American Footballer Bubba Smith played the aptly named Moses Hightower in six Police Academy films. He died in 2011 at the age of 66.
  • Michael Winslow played Larvell Jones, an academy trainee capable of making sound effects with his voice. The self-described “voicetrumentalist” reprised his role in all six sequels and the TV series and continues to perform as a stand-up comedian and voice artist.
  • George Gaynes played bumbling Commandant Lassard in all the Police Academy films. He went on to appear in further films including Wag the Dog and Just Married before dying in 2016 aged 98.

WKRP in Cincinnati, Wilson’s first success, depicted life at a struggling radio station unsettled by the arrival of a new programming director.

The original show ran from 1978 to 1982 and was nominated for 10 Primetime Emmys. Initial ratings were low, but it later became a huge hit in syndication.

Wilson’s last directorial credit was 2004 baseball film Mickey, but he continued to teach screenwriting at the University of Virginia.

According to family friends, he died at the weekend at his home in Albemarle County, Virginia, after an illness.


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