What a terrible way to start the week. Comedy legend Leslie Nielsen passed away at a hospital near his home in Florida yesterday after fighting off a staph infection for the past week or so. He eventually died due to complications from pneumonia. He was 84 years old. Nielsen worked for over 60 years in TV and movies, first gaining attention as a serious actor in such films as Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure, before eventually becoming best known as the muse of David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams, creators of the cult classic Police Squad! TV series and the popular Airplane and The Naked Gun films. He was still working right up until his death, most recently starring in the horror spoof Stan Helsing, with appearances in Spanish Movie, Stonerville and The Waterman Movie still forthcoming.
As someone who grew up on The Naked Gun movies, I can honestly say that Leslie Nielsen’s deadpan performance as Lt. Frank Drebin helped shape my own sense of humour. Although the Zucker / Zucker / Abrahams style of parody very quickly wore out its welcome moving into the ’90s, it was always nice to see Nielsen continuing to find work, and he was able to return to form with supporting roles in fairly recent movies like Scary Movie 3 and 4 and Superhero Movie. Either way, he has definitely left behind some comedy masterpieces that will continue to live on without him. What will you remember him for most? What are your favourite Leslie Nielsen performances?