Monday, 29 November 2010

RIP Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)

Monday, 29 November 2010
Shirley you can't be serious!
This news genuinely saddens me, as Leslie Nielsen was one of my favourite comedy actors. Like many people, he first came to my attention as the deadpan doctor in the fantastic Airplane!, before starring in the wonderful Naked Gun trilogy of spoofs (based on the flop TV show Police Squad!), although his early career was surprisingly serious (The Poseidon Adventure, Ransom!, Forbidden Planet). The Canadian actor appeared in over 100 movies and an incredible 1,500 televisions shows (The Golden Girls, Fantasy Island, Hawaii Five-0, M*A*S*H, Gunsmoke, etc) in a career spanning 60 years.

It was a shame Leslie Nielsen got typecast by his later spoof work, as his filmography over the past 20 years is full of weak parodies that flopped at the box office: Spy Hard, Dracula: Dead & Loving It, Wrongfully Accused, Superhero Movie, Scary Movie 3, and many others. Nielsen was basically there to give those movies a tincture of credibility, in the vague hope that fans of his classic work would be persuaded to watch them. That never really worked, although he was often the best thing about those later movies.

For me, Nielsen was like a cool, funny granddad you were always glad to see. He was one of those comedians whose very presence made you smile, and could make you giggle with the slightest expression. Many of my favourite comedy moments in film involve Leslie Nielsen, so here are a few choice clips of him as The Naked Gun's bumbling Lt. Frank Drebin:

Leslie Nielsen died from complications relating to pneumonia in a Fort Lauderdale hospital in Florida. He was 84. Rest In Peace.