Leslie Nielsen R.I.P. Yes, I’m Serious, And Don’t Call Me ShirleyNovember 30, 2010
And… another one has just left our planet. Actor Leslie Nielsen died on the 28th November at the age of 84 after suffering from Pneumonia. I heard the news in the morning and felt sad, but also happy because as soon as I thought of him, I couldn’t help but smile. Is that weird?
Obituaries are great because you find out things you didn’t know about a person. Unless you’re a super fan. Or a stalker in common parlance. He was born in 1926 in Saskatchewan, Canada to a Welsh mother and Danish born Father who was in the Canadian Mounties. Saskatchewan – I’ve loved that place name since I first heard it in a Geography class, but I digress. He made several films and TV shows from the 50s to the 70s. At that time, he was known as a serious actor, playing figures of authority like policemen, mainly because he was tall, handsome and had a voice that sounded like the gentle rumble of thunder. His best-known films at that time were Forbidden Planet, and The Poseidon Adventure, one of many disaster films of the 1970s. Then something happened in 1980. Airplane! a spoof on all those disaster movies was released, featuring one Leslie Nielsen. His deadpan quotes and particularly that line gave a new lease of life to his career and he went on to star in the TV spoof Police Squad as inept Lt Frank Drebin. Although short lived (6 episodes), Police Squad spawned the Naked Gun movies I, 2 1/2 and 33 1/3: The Final Insult.
While scanning t’internet, I discovered a film I had never heard of called Wrongfully accused. It was mentioned several times by commentators so I decided to have a look at it on YouTube. This was the first clip I came across:
I was crying with laughter. The man’s a genius. Next, I was reminded of the Red Rock Cider commercials he made in the 90s. It’s Frank Drebin – in pubs!
Here’s the trailer for the 1956 film Forbidden Planet:
And finally here’s a clip from the film Airplane! With the famous quote.
His list of films and TV appearances are exhaustive. You can check out Wikipedia or IMDB for the rest if you wish. For those who remember his work from the 1950s to the 70s, he will be respected as a serious actor. For those who remember him from Airplane! Onwards, he will be respected as a brilliant comedian whose ability to deadpan a line was peerless. I don’t believe he would’ve done so well in that genre if he hadn’t had 30 years of playing it straight under his belt.
R.I.P, Leslie Nielsen. You’ll be sorely (Shirley?) missed.