Director Hugh Wilson stated that when it came time to film the driving scene with Hightower at 2:30 a.m., the actor originally cast as the angry driver was found passed out drunk in the trailer, so Hugh himself ended up playing the role of the angry driver, into whom Hightower crashes.
In addition to playing Jones, Michael Winslow also supplied the voice for all public address announcements heard at the academy.
Producer Paul Maslansky got the idea for this movie during the production of The Right Stuff (1983). A group of police cadets arrived to help with crowd control for the filming of a street scene. When the cadets piled out of the buses to take their posts, they were diverse; men, women, tall, short, black, Asian. However, the cadets proved "fumblingly inept" at their assigned task of keeping members of the public away from the set. Maslansky witnessed an exasperated superior officer with a "very red face chewing out two sputtering recruits busily trying to rationalize their incompetence". Maslansky found it humorous, asking the sergeant, "Are these all going to be future San Francisco's finest?" The sergeant told him "We have to take anyone who applies into the academy for training--but we can flunk them out in two weeks." It started Maslansky thinking, "What if they don't want to be flunked out? What if some guy or girl wants to stay in?" That night, Paul wrote a two-page treatment and gave it to executive producer Alan Ladd Jr., who loved the idea and agreed to develop the movie.
The location used as the Academy campus was known as the Mimico Lunatic Asylum or variations thereof until 1911, and Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital from 1964 to 1979. It was acquired by Humber College in 1991, after being mainly used as a site for filmmaking between 1979 and 1991. It is now a renovated and active educational institution.
In the DVD "Making of" documentary, Marion Ramsey says she came up with Hooks' voice by reading the description of her character in the script, and recalling the time she met Michael Jackson. The voice is a parody of Jackson. She also recalls that in the moment where Hooks exclaims "Don't move, Dirtbag!" the sound techs were used to recording the "meek" voice and were surprised when she said the line so loud.
Michael Winslow (Jones), David Graf (Tackleberry), and George Gaynes (Commandant Lassard) are the only actors who appeared in all seven Police Academy movies. Winslow even goes a step beyond this, as he is the only actor who not only appeared in all seven Police Academy movies, but also had a regular role on Police Academy: The Series (1997).
When attending his audition, Steve Guttenberg wore an old police shirt belonging to his father Stanley Guttenberg, who was a New York City police officer.
When Hooks says "I'll bet there's a back door to this place", Marion Ramsey tries opening the door, only to find it jammed. After several attempts, she finally succeeds in getting the door open. This was unplanned, but kept in the film.
The "shoe polish on the megaphone" originated from a prank played on British Director Michael Winner on the set of one of his movies. Hugh Wilson decided to use the gag, after he heard the story from a crew member.
The only Police Academy movie that was given an R-rating, and also the most successful of the franchise at the box office.
This is one of few films to which Roger Ebert gave zero stars, but it was also a very rare zero-star review where Ebert didn't castigate the film for being depraved or immoral or diseased (something he had made a point of doing in most zero-star reviews, such as those for "Caligula", "I Spit on your Grave", and "Death Wish II") . He just said it was a would-be comedy that not only had zero laughs but didn't even try to make the audience laugh.
The term "Tackleberry" has become a standard in the private security industry to denote an officer who is inordinately fond of firearms and other high-tech equipment.
While filming the obstacle course scene, the first man to scale the wall propelled himself so high that he broke one of his lower limbs upon landing.
Billy Crystal, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Bill Murray, Judge Reinhold, Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, and Bruce Willis were considered for Mahoney.
When Jones (Michael Winslow) is knocked out of the door and tumbles down the stairs, he sits up and mimics some video game sounds. The game sounds he is mimicking are those from the video game Pac-Man.
Former President Bill Clinton once told Steve Guttenberg that Police Academy was one of his favorite movie franchises, and that watching the films helped him through a difficult time, when he was undergoing heavy media scrutiny during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Bill also stated during his speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, that his wife Hillary had found his parenting choices questionable, after he watched six Police Academy movies back-to-back with daughter Chelsea.
After early test audiences responded the most positively to Hightower, out of all the characters, Bubba Smith was moved to second place billing, just behind Steve Guttenberg.
Pay close attention to the scene when Barbara is floating down river in the camera booth: Before he passes under the bridge, the booth almost flips over. That was not planned (according to the DVD commentary). It really did almost flip over.
Harris' trademark stick was not originally in the script. The prop was brought onto the set by an extra, who gave it to G.W. Bailey to keep.
According to the cast and filmmaker commentary, it was Producer Alan Ladd, Jr. who came up with the idea of having Mahoney be the recipient of the "podium gag" at the end, after watching dailies of Lassard's podium scene.
Marion Ramsey was asked to wear a fat suit for her role as Hooks, with the idea that Hooks' boot camp training would have rendered her slim by the end of the film. Due to time constraints, the scene showing Hooks after her weight loss was removed from the final cut. By the time work on the sequel began, producers changed their minds, opting instead to have Marion remain wearing the fat suit, in order to garner audience sympathy for her character. A brief shot of "slim" Hooks remains in the film, however, as a close-up of Marion without the fat suit is seen during the graduates' march at the end of the film.
Steve Guttenberg said of Mahoney in a 1984 interview, "I think he's a party guy. He doesn't really know what he is going to do with his life. But it is kind of hard to talk about him because he is not exactly a deep character. I really hate when actors get interviewed, and they have just starred in The Love Boat (1977) or something, and they go on for a month about motivation and character analysis. Police Academy set out to be light entertainment, and that is what it is."
Steve Guttenberg mentions in his biography, "The Guttenberg Bible", that Donovan Scott filmed home-movies during filming. According to Guttenberg, there is a "very funny, touching, and unreleased documentary that he made of the shoot."
G.W. Bailey's voice is noticeably lower than usual during the scene of the cadets' shooting exercise in the little western town, as G.W. was sick with the flu that day.
The hubcap falling off Fackler's car as it backs out of his driveway was unplanned.
Fackler's wife riding the hood of her spouse's car, to prohibit him from joining the police academy (with Mrs. Fackler ultimately catapulted with an abrupt stop) was the start of a comedic tradition with the film series: The Parody On A Parody. Like so many gags, this one would be "recycled" for Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986): Now, with Fackler riding the hood of his car to prevent Mrs. Fackler from joining the Force; complete with the couple being spotted from the interior of a limousine, as well as a hubcap coming off of the car as it backed out of the driveway.
Robert Conrad was offered the role of Commandant Eric Lassard, but turned down the part, which he regretted later on, to the point that he took the part of the Police Chief in Moving Violations (1985) which was co-written and directed by Neal Israel, who also co-wrote this film.
David Graf had to choose between working on this film or Richard Benjamin's more critically acclaimed Racing with the Moon (1984). When David initially read the Police Academy script, he thought, "What trash". For three days, he sat and looked at the two scripts. Then, when Warner Brothers made him the offer, Graf said he knew which film was going to make money.
This is the only time we see cadets Leslie Barbara, Karen Thompson, and George Martín.
In the cast commentary, it's revealed that Larvell Jones was not in the original script. The part was immediately written for Michael Winslow, after Hugh Wilson and the casting directors saw him open for Count Basie.
Warner Brothers tapped Hugh Wilson to write this film. Wilson agreed only after being offered the chance to direct it.
In the party scene, Tackleberry is seen to play the saxophone. In real life, David Graf actually was an accomplished saxophone player.
Though Doug Lennox's character is listed in the end credits as "Main Bad Guy", the script refers to the character as "S.O.B."
According to Hugh Wilson, the original script played out at around two and a half hours long, which he said "was about as long as Gandhi (1982). "
G.W. Bailey stated on the movie's DVD commentary that during the scene where he yells at Barbara "I could show a movie on your butt, fatso!", there was an improvised portion that did not make the final cut. The deleted scene saw Harris contemplating the movie he would like to watch on Barbara's backside. His choice: "Gigi (1958)".
Due to being filmed out of sequence, the haircut scene of Scott Thomson and Brant von Hoffman caused problems when it was later determined that they would need to be shown arriving at the academy beforehand, with their full heads of hair intact. Producers worked their way around this by issuing wigs for all of Scott and Brant's scenes that play prior to the haircut.
Tackleberry's line "Drop that stereo before I blow your god damned nuts off, asshole!" marks the only time he swears in the entire film franchise.
Prior to making this movie, Paul Maslansky had produced twenty-four films without a solid hit. This movie earned as much money for The Ladd Company, as it lost on its preceding film The Right Stuff (1983). At the time, Maslansky said, "At last I don't have to worry about my children's education."
This film is regularly played on television in the United Kingdom, during the Christmas period. The film's only Christmas reference is the tune heard during Hooks' driving test; "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town".
Hooks' first name "Laverne" is revealed in the closing credits, but is not mentioned in the films, until the scene where Hooks and Lieutenant Callahan are at the police convention just before Captain Harris blows the whistle in Hooks face in Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach (1988).
The name "Sweedchuk: Fine European Tailoring" appeared on the window, in which Fackler is looking, when Tackleberry asks him how he's doing. This was a play on the name of Set Decorator Steve Shewchuk. The name reappeared in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986), and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987), for Sweetchuck, played by Tim Kazurinsky.
The original VHS release of the movie sold one hundred seven thousand copies in the first week of release. This, combined with the eighty-two million dollars the movie earned in ticket sales, prompted Warner Brothers to greenlight Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), and several other sequels.
While a guest on the podcast "The Gist", Bobcat Goldthwait said that in 2015, TMZ cornered Goldthwait on the street and, per their usual MO, tried to enrage him with insulting questions to try to get him to become enraged on-camera. One of the questions they asked him was "Should there be a Police Academy reboot?", but instead of becoming enraged, he answered with a mild "no", and continued to joke, "the problem is that a lot of the cast are dead", which is not actually true. He also said that if they did do a reboot, "I think they should reboot it like they did 21 Jump Street (1987), and make it a comedy this time", and "The police are killing civilians right now; I don't know if it's really the time for a wacky police comedy, you know." TMZ removed the last comment from their broadcast.
When Tackleberry arrives at the Academy he is seen wearing a green t-shirt with the text "MAC VSOG" on it. MACVSOG is an abbreviation for "Military Assistance Command, Vietnam - Studies and Observations Group" which was a special operations unit during the Vietnam War, operating between 1964-1972. The unit performed reconnaissance, rescue missions, psychological warfare, intelligence gathering, and overall clandestine operations.
The Blue Oyster bar used in this movie, is actually called the Silver Dollar Room, located on Spadina Avenue in Toronto. Coincidentally, Spadina Avenue is also home to Protocol Entertainment, the company that produced Police Academy: The Series (1997).
After Lassard and the cadets drive away from the rioting mob, they crash into the back of a meat truck which reads "Maslansky's Bologna". This is a reference to Producer Paul Maslansky.
ITV film buyer Leslie Halliwell resigned from his job, because ITV was going to show this film in the UK. He believed certain scenes would cause criminal behavior.
When Jones is in holding, and pretending to play the harmonica, an officer walks by with a boy wearing a M*A*S*H t-shirt. G.W. Bailey (Lieutenant Harris) played Sergeant Rizzo on M*A*S*H (1972).
Just before Mahoney catches up with Thompson and is chastised for pranking her, there is a public address announcement, requesting that a "Lieutenant Hoffman, report immediately to the infirmary." This is a reference to cast member Brant von Hoffman (Kyle Blankes).
Steve Guttenberg said that he got to keep the "One in the Oven" shirt that he wore in this movie.
The shot of George Martín leaving the women's dormitory at dawn was filmed at sunset.
Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
In early drafts, Commandant Eric Lassard was named Captain Lewis Lassard, Commandant of the Police Academy.
Michael Winslow is said to have performed the sound effects for the sirens, amongst other sound effects for the film.
Leslie Easterbrook's character name "Callahan" is said to be a play on Clint Eastwood's famous character. Coincidently, Debralee Scott, who appeared in this film, played a victim in Dirty Harry (1971).
March 4th, the date shown on-screen during the prologue, is the birthday of writer Pat Proft.
Before Composer Robert Folk was hired. The filmmakers initially wanted Elmer Bernstein to write the film's score. Bernstein was at the time of the making of this movie quite well known for scoring comedy such as National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), Airplane! (1980) and Stripes (1981), amongst others.
G.W. Bailey said that, had things worked out for him on St. Elsewhere (1982), he would not have been available to work on this film. Bailey left St. Elsewhere because he had a challenging time getting along with the show's producer Bruce Paltrow.
The magazine held by Leslie Barbara in both bathroom scenes (when Tackleberry gets slapped and when Blanks and Copeland question Barbara) is the July, 1983 edition of Life Magazine with the cover story "National Parks in Peril".
Despite Harris (G.W. Bailey) making his first appearance here, Proctor (Lance Kinsey) does not appear. Despite popular misconceptions. He does not appear until the second movie, and ironically, Proctor does not became Harris' right hand man until the fourth movie.
The pinball machine set in motion at the beginning of the riot (and seen several time afterward) is Williams' 1975 machine Triple Strike.
In film critic Roger Ebert's highly negative review of it, he mentioned Airplane! (1980) and how good of a film it was compared to this. Oddly, George Gaynes is said by some people to be similar to Lloyd Bridges and Leslie Nielsen, both of whom appeared in that film.
The Teskey truck, driven by Barbara's bullies was from the Teskey Concrete Company in Toronto. A Teskey truck also appeared in The Silent Partner (1978).
The Police Academy films followed one of two Narrative styles, the first style, which was used in the first, third, and fourth films, features the Academy prominently, while the bad guys only appeared at the end. The second style, used in the second, fifth, sixth, and seventh films consists of brief uses of the Academy, while the bad guys were featured throughout the film.