Rest in Peace Leslie Nielsen
Most folks know him for his comedic work of the last thirty years starting with the spoof Airplane! and the series of television and film that followed with “Police Squad!.” Nielsen, a Canadian native, was also a serious actor in both television and film with a career spanning more than six decades. It seemed that his strong serious demeanor that made his early roles so dramatic proved hilarious when Nielsen moved to comedy.
I loved him in “Police Squad!” which I saw years before I ever saw Airplane! or his other parodies, and knew he was cool before everyone else did when that TV series moved to the big screen with the Naked Gun films. Many folks don’t remember that that show was a flop, barely lasting six episodes. I think “Cop Rock” might have done better in the ratings.
Before his comedy roles I remember Leslie Nielsen as the hero of the scifi classic Forbidden Planet and the villain of the B-movie eco-horror The Day of the Animals. A leading man for years, it is notable that his comedic career didn’t start with the parodies of the late seventies and early eighties, he also shared billing with Don Knotts in The Reluctant Astronaut. The last role I saw him in was as the Uncle Ben character in 2008’s Superhero Movie, doing some of the funniest gas humor ever on the big screen.
Leslie Nielsen was also an author, an avid golfer, and even singer. He was one of our finest actors, of any genre. He will be missed.