R.I.P. Art Metrano, comedian and ‘Police Academy’ star

He won Johnny Carson over with his simple but hilarious “magic” act and appeared in ‘Joanie Loves Chachi’ as Uncle Rico.

The Everett Collection

Art Metrano was born in Brooklyn in 1936, the son of a garment maker. After playing college football in California, he decided to pursue a career in show business. The gigs came slowly at first.

He played a truck driver in the 1961 Cold War propaganda film Rocket Attack U.S.A. and started performing comedy in the Catskills. In the late Sixties, he won small roles in shows like Mannix, Bewitched and The Mod Squad. His first real film role (credited as Arthur Metrano) came in director Sydney Pollack’s grueling 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? with Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin.

Though he was a working actor and comic, he hadn’t yet received his big break. That all changed after appearing on The Tonight Show. A producer for the Johnny Carson program saw him in a variety show airing on local California television. Metrano wasn’t the only actor from the regional program to make it big. The cast included Mclean Stevenson before M*A*S*H, Craig T. Nelson before Coach and Barry Levinson, who went on to direct Diner and Rain Man.

Metrano won the coveted spot on the couch next to Johnny Carson after his performance left the iconic host doubled over with laughter. It was a simple yet amusing act. Metrano pretended to be a great magician while “moving” fingers back and forth between hands and “revealing” the missing leg he had lifted up behind his jacket – all while humming “dah duh dah-dah” from the showtune “Fine and Dandy.”

After his 1970 Tonight Show appearance, Metrano took his act around the country and won larger guest spots in shows like Ironside, All in the Family and Wonder Woman. He also played a lounge entertainer in Elaine May’s 1972 comedy The Heartbreak Kid.

Metrano’s best-known roles came in the 1980s. He was Uncle Rico in the Happy Days spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi and played Mauser, the subject of many hilarious pranks in two Police Academy sequels.

In 1989, at the height of his career, Metrano suffered a huge setback. He fell off a ladder while working on his roof and fractured three vertebrae, leaving him without the use of his legs or hands for a time.

Nevertheless, he turned his hardship into comedy. His wife brought a voice-activated tape recorder to his hospital bed and eventually those tapes were turned into the one-man show Metrano’s Accidental Comedy. The stage production featured a few steps out of his wheelchair, highlighting his remarkable recovery.

Metrano continued to work through the next decade, even reuniting with Craig T. Nelson in an episode of The District. He passed away this week at his home in Florida. He was 84.

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Jack 32 months ago
GOD Rest the Soul of Art Metrano ... Amen - Alleluia!
Chrislongski 32 months ago
Never understood the mass appeal of those low-brow 'comedy' movies...
trendsetter75 33 months ago
Captain Mauser, yowzer, mauser..oh yeah oh yeah (Shampoo scene Police Academy).
Tresix 34 months ago
I also remember him as a judge in an episode of “L.A. Law”. If you look closely in his scene on the show, you’ll see Metrano’s crutches leaning against the wall behind him.
MikeHornCRN 34 months ago
The local TV show Art Metrano performed on was the Lohman and Barkley Show on NBC 4 in Los Angeles. Al Lohman and Roger Barkley were great radio and TV talents and had many early TV talents as regulars on their Sunday late night TV show.
Tresix 34 months ago
For years, I had been trying to find the title of the song Metrano had been humming. Too bad it took his death for me to learn it.
cperrynaples 34 months ago
Another great performance was History of The World Part I! In Brooks fractured history Da Vinci was at the Last Supper and he was played by Art!
JHP 34 months ago
I see this topic and they are dropping like flies
JHP 34 months ago
This comment has been removed.
JHP 34 months ago
the world got less funnier - like we needed that :(
JamesB 34 months ago
Art Metrano was special, one of many excellent talents who were sought after for "character actor" roles. His short part in 1980's "How to Beat the High Co$t of Living" was well done - Art WAS his character from how he played the role!
Jon 34 months ago
RIP, Art Metrano. He made a funny appearance on BONANZA called "Easter Bunny Crossing", where he appeared as a crook in a gang w/ Marc Lawrence (who specialized in playing crooks), Vic Tayback ("Mel"), and Len Lesser ("Uncle Leo").
AgingDisgracefully 34 months ago
He had a great Theme Song.
outlaw12 34 months ago
I remember him misty from movin on a moose and benji they were so funny.
LoveMETV22 34 months ago
R.I.P. Art Metrano. Funny in Police Academy. I wonder why the Willard Scott story about Bozo a few days ago didn't acknowledge Willard's passing which was a few days before the story.
MrsPhilHarris LoveMETV22 34 months ago
I had not heard Willard Scott died.
LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 34 months ago
Yes, on the 4th , the bozo story was posted on the 7th. I was surprised they didn't mention it in the story.
cperrynaples 34 months ago
Anyone remember when he sued Seth MacFarlane? He claimed Seth stole for him when he had Jesus do the "Fine & Dandy" act! Also, anyone remember the Richard Gere version of Breathless where he beat up Art?
cperrynaples 34 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Pegs stephaniestavr5 34 months ago
I thought it was Roy Clark, also. But then, I'm remembering Art Metrano from around 1972 or so, no idea when the in use photo is from.
Moverfan stephaniestavr5 34 months ago
Now that you mention it, I see it (oh boy, do I see it). Wonder if he ever did something that required at least some knowledge of Thank God And Greyhound...
JHP stephaniestavr5 34 months ago
I wonder if Art could play the banjo

love roy clark and a friggin talent he was - and I cant stand CW music
Pegs 34 months ago
This comment has been removed.
harlow1313 34 months ago
I am sorry he has croaked.

Just thinking the title, "Joanie loves Chachi," makes me cringe.
Runeshaper 34 months ago
R.I.P. Art Metrano. I remember him best from Police Academy and he was GREAT! (-:
Moverfan Runeshaper 34 months ago
Didn't he also play Art the maintaince man on Night Court or am I thinking of somebody else?
bdettlingmetv Moverfan 34 months ago
Maybe it was Roy Clark? :D :D :D :D just joshing
Moverfan bdettlingmetv 34 months ago
No, that I would have remembered...I think...
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?