Leslie Nielsen (1926 – 2010) was Canadian born actor who career spanned 6 decades including over 100 films and over 1,500 television appearances. Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, his first foray into the media was a television appearance in 1948.
One of his most notable role in his early career was in the 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet. While not as well remembered as The Day The Earth Stood Still, it is still a cult classic despite the rather hokey special effects in comparison with today’s standards.
During the 50’s and the 60’s, Nielsen had a fairly solid career in both films and television. While not a big name star, he was a solid actor and better known for dramatic leading man type of roles. In 1972, he starred as the ship’s captain in the disaster film The Poseidon Adventure.
The next step of his career is best explained by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Nielsen#Airplane.21_and_The_Naked_Gun):
Nielsen’s comedic breakthrough came with a supporting role in 1980’s Airplane!, a parody of Zero Hour!, Airport, and other movies that dealt with air travel. In Airplane! his deadpan delivery contrasted with the continual absurdity surrounding him. In the film when asked, "Surely you can’t be serious?" he responds with a curt, "I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley." He later reflected in several interviews on the significance of the comedic line: "I thought it was amusing, but it never occurred to me that it was going to become a trademark. It’s such a surprise…the thing comes out, people say, ‘What did he say?!’" Nielsen also stated that he was "…pleased and honoured that [he] had a chance to deliver that line." The comedic exchange was at #79 on the American Film Institute’s list of Top 100 movie quotes. The American Film Institute also included the film in its list of the top ten comedy films of all time.
From there he moved on to the series of comedy films, The Naked Gun which saw him busy throughout the decades of the 80’s and the 90’s. He has been a guest on various series like The Golden Girls, Who’s The Boss, Scrubs and Murder, She Wrote plus others.
Nielsen remained active in the industry both in films and TV right into his eighties.
Mr. Nielsen had an amazing career and a long one. His more recent comedic work overshadows his earlier dramatic roles but anyone cannot ignore his solid contributions to acting. He will be missed.
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Wikipedia: Leslie Nielsen