Actor, producer and writer Leonard Gaines died Feb. 15 in West Hollywood. He was 84.
Early in his career, Gaines wrote for “The Sid Caesar Show.” He produced live events such as the first first anniversary party for “Around the World in Eighty Days” with producer Mike Todd at Madison Square Garden and “America Be Seated,” a musical revue for the 1964 New York World’s Fair with Mike Todd, Jr.
In the 1960s he wrote and produced several comedy records, including “At Home With That Other Family,” a Kennedy parody about Soviet First Family and “The Shortest Day,” a satire about the Egypt Israeli Six Day War. His 1967 record “The Coney Island Parade,” better known as “The Banana Man,” was a hit in San Francisco before being banned for promoting the smoking of bananas. He also produced several TV closed-circuit Muhammed Ali Heavyweight Championship fights.
In the 1970s he moved into acting, and Martin Scorsese cast him in his first film role as a record label president opposite Robert DeNiro and Liza Minelli in “New York New York.” He also appeared on stage with Minelli in “Shine It On,” also directed by Scorsese. In 1978 he executive produced “Going In Style” with George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg.
His other acting appearances include “Blue Collar,” in a scene with Richard Pryor, “Hardcore” with George C. Scott, “Rocky II,” “Where the Buffalo Roam,” “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai,” “The Idolmaker,” “For the Boys” and “Scent of a Woman.”
Gaines became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1993.
He is survived by a daughter and a son.