I Am Serious… And Don’t Call Me Shirley

I neglected to honor the memory of one of our greatest comedic giants. By now you know that Leslie Nielsen died of complications due to pneumonia. He died on November 28th. Leslie was best known for playing in the Naked Gun franchise as Lt. Frank Drebin. Another one of Canada’s gifts to the United States, Nielsen also starred in one of my favorite sci-fi films, Forbidden Planet. I think his best work was on the television show Police Squad!

The most repeated lines from any comedy are probably from The Princess Bride and Airplane! If you are too young to have seen the movie I recommend that you put it on your list of movies to see. AMC seems to still be playing it once a day so catch it there if you can.

Here is a little bit about Leslie from Wikipedia:

Leslie William Nielsen, OC (February 11, 1926 – November 28, 2010) was a Canadian American actor and comedian. Nielsen appeared in over one hundred films and 1,500 television programs over the span of his career, portraying over 220 characters.

Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Nielsen enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and worked as a disc jockey before receiving a scholarship to Neighborhood Playhouse. Beginning with a television role in 1948, he quickly expanded to over 50 television appearances two years later. Nielsen appeared in his first films in 1956 and began collecting roles in dramas, westerns, and romance films. Nielsen’s lead roles in the films Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972) received positive reviews as a serious actor, though he is primarily known for his comedic roles.

Although Nielsen’s acting career crossed a variety of genres in both television and films, his deadpan delivery as a doctor in Airplane! (1980) marked a turning point in his career, one that would make him, in the words of film critic Roger Ebert, “the Olivier of spoofs.” Nielsen enjoyed further success with The Naked Gun film series, based on a short-lived television series Police Squad! in which he starred. His portrayal of serious characters seemingly oblivious to (and complicit in) their absurd surroundings gave him a reputation as a comedian. In the final two decades of his career, Nielsen appeared in multiple spoof and parody films. He was recognized with a variety of awards throughout his career and was inducted into both the Canada and Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nielsen married four times and had two daughters from his second marriage.

Read the official obituary from the Associated Press.

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  1. #1 by Rose Reynolds on December 24, 2010 - 6:20 PM

    Airplane is one of my favorite comedies. I’m going to have to check out Police Squad. I was told to see a show called Sledgehammer too. My father said it is as funny if not more so than Police Squad. merry Christmas Tom and tell April as well. Thanks for convincing me to be a part of the First Class Blogger site too.

    • #2 by Tom Baker on December 26, 2010 - 1:54 PM

      Rose, we had a great Christmas and church was fantastic. I love Sledgehammer. I’m laughing now just thinking about the show! Thank you for being a part of FCBA. One of your blog choices responded positively and accepted the award.

  2. #3 by Cherlyn on December 24, 2010 - 1:48 PM

    I think this is a great tribute, he was definitely one of my favourite comedic stars, and we here are very proud to call him a fellow Canadian. I can’t pick a favourite Nielsen film, I love them all. Airplane! is one I never get tired of watching though, it’s just a classic. Great post Tom, and Merry Christmas!

    • #4 by Tom Baker on December 26, 2010 - 1:53 PM

      Thank you. I had hoped to get it up sooner but I also wanted to keep my schedule. I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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