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Leslie Nielsen (1926 - 2010)
Nielsen in The Naked Gun; From the Files
TheNaked Gun 331/3: The Final Insult
in Spy Hard
Nielsen's style and manner in Airplane! led to another deadpan characterization (which would become his 'trademark' from now on), this time as the bumbling police detective Frank Drebin in the Zucker brothers' cult TV Police Squad (1982) which earned him an Emmy Award. This
As Mallory in Wrong is Right
Leslie Nielsen was born in 1926 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, and raised in Tulita (formerly Fort Norman), Northwest Territories. His father Ingvard Nielsen was a Canadian Mou
Mountie of Danish descent, and his mother, Maybelle, was Welsh. Leslie's elder brother Erik, went on to be Canada's Deputy Prime Minister during the 1980s.
Leslie Nielsen spent his early years living near the Arctic Circle where his father was stationed, but as a teenager he lived in Edmonton, Alberta where
Leslie Nielsen spent his early years living near the Arctic Circle where his father was stationed, but as a teenager he lived in Edmonton, Alberta where he went to Victoria High School. After leaving
leaving school, he did a year with the Royal Canadian Air Force and then attended the Lorne Greene Academy of Radio Arts in Toronto. Nielsen was later accepted into the prestigious Neighbourhood Playhouse School in New York City, and began appearing in regional theatre.
I met the famous 'spoof-movie' actor Leslie Nielsen when he was a guest at the Autographica event held at the Birmingham Hilton in May 2010. I had the great pleasure of sitting at his table for the Gala Dinner. He was good company and he signed my menu afterwards. (Thanks to Giles Golding who took this super photo of us during the dinner).
He then spent five years appearing on numerous live TV drama programmes until he moved to Hollywood with
with a contract at Paramount. His film debut was in Ransom! (1956) with Glenn Ford and Donna Reed, and then gained some recognition for his role as Commander Adams in the sci-fi thriller Forbidden Planet (1956).
Leslie Nielsen & Anne Francis in Forbidden Planet
Other notable film roles during the following twenty years included Peter Brent in the romantic musical Ta
Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) with Debb
Debbie Reynolds; Lt. De Ruse in Beau Geste (1966); George Custer in The Plainsman (1966) and The Captai
Leslie Nielsen & Debbie Reynolds in
Tammy and the Bachelor
Captain in the 'disaster movie' The Poseidon Adventure (1972).
Leslie Nielsen as The Captain in The Poseidon Adventure
Leslie Nielsen in Beau Geste
Leslie Nielsen in Bracken's World
Nielsen was also kept busy on the small screen during the 1970s, in series like The New Breed; Peyton Place; Dr Kildare; Murder She Wrote; The Virginian and
and Bracken's World. He also had guest appearances in series like M*A*S*H and the Streets of San Francisco.
In 1979, Nielsen toured the Britain and the USA in Darrow, a one-man stage show about the American lawyer Clarence Darrow. By
now, Nielsen had acquired a reput
reputation for portraying manly authority figures (as in Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure) and gun-slinging cowboys (as in The Sheepman, The Plainsman and a recurring small-screen role in The Virginian). However
all this was to change completely in 1980 with his first collaboration with the Zucker brothers in the comic 'spoof movie' Airplane!
Airplane!. At the age of 54, Nielsen's supporting role as Dr Rumack proved to be the one that revealed his comedy talent to a wider public, and gained lasting fame for him at last. His serious delivery made ridiculous lines and absurd situations even more funny.
Leslie Nielsen as Col. Buzz Brighton in
Leslie Nielsen Captain Daniels in
Murder She Wrote
Leslie Nielsen delivers his famous "...and don't call me Shirley!" line in Airplane!
Other non-comedy film roles continued to be minor and spor
Leslie Nielsen in Prom Night
sporadic, such as the two horror films Prom Night (1980) and George Romero's Creepshow (1982).
Leslie Nielsen in Creepshow
in Police Squad
Leslie Nielsen as Det. Frank Drebin
This highly satirical, six-episode series was the forerunner of the Zuckers' hit The Naked Gun; From the Files of the Police Squad! (1988) which saw Nielsen at his funniest, alongside Priscilla Presley & George Kennedy.
of the Police Squad!
Two successful sequels followed - The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991) and Naked Gun 33 1/3: Th
Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun 21/2
Nielsen with Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy & Richard Griffiths in
The Naked Gun 21/2: The Smell of Fear
Leslie Nielsen with Anna Nicole Smith in
Very occasionally, Nielsen played a serious role, for example as Allen Green in Nuts (1987), a courtroom thriller starring Richard Dreyfuss & Barbara Streisand.
The Final Insult (1994).
Leslie Nielsen in 2001: A Space Travesty
Leslie Nielsen & Stephanie Romanov
Nielsen also found success in a number of other film spoofs including Spy Hard (1996) and 2001: A Space Travesty (2000)
(2000) but other comedies, like children's film Mr. Magoo (1997) and his action-film parody called Wrongfully Accused (1998), failed to excite the film-going public.
Leslie Nielsen in Wrongfully Accused
Leslie Nielsen in Wrongfully Accused
The 77-year-old silver-haired star was at his best when he appeared as the paranoid, and clueless US President Harris in another Zucker horror spoof Scary Movie 3 (2003). Nielsen revived the role ag
Leslie Nielsen in Scary Story 3
Leslie Nielsen in Scary Story 4
Nielsen as President Harris in Scary Story 3
again (at one point appearing almost entirely naked!) for the even more popular Scary Movie 4 (2006). Another Zucker production, the crude comedy Superhero Movie (2008) saw spoof-legend Nielsen (then 82 years old) cast in the role of Uncle Albert.
Leslie Nielsen as Uncle Albert in
It is estimated that this most prolific of actors has appeared in more than 1,500 television programs and some 100 films, portraying over 220 different characters, including these:-
In 1988, he became the 1,884th personality to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It can be found outside No. 6541 Hollywood Boulevard, a Victorian building known as 'Janes House' - now a Visitor Centre.
Leslie Nielsen was awarded an O.C. (Officer of the Order of Canada) in October, 2002 for his services to entertainment.
As Cutter in Men With Brooms
As Father Mayii in Repossessed
As Dracula in Dracula: Dead and Loving It
As Kay in Stan Helsing
As Clive Thorton in Kevin of the North
In 1993, Nielsen the spoof-movie actor, appropriately co-w
Nielsen's star on the Walk of Fame
Order of Canada
wrote with David Fisher, a spoof autobiography called The Naked Truth. This zany account of his life and career provides outrageous stories from forty years in show business, including winning several Oscars and having affairs with Elizabeth Taylor!
Leslie signed my Gala Dinner menu
Leslie signed this Naked Gun photo to me
Leslie Nielsen was married four times - to Monica Boyer (1950-1956); Alisande Ullman (1958-1974); Brooks Oliver (1981-1984) and Barbaree Earl Nielsen (2001-2010). He had two daughters, Maura & Thea, from his marriage to Alisande Ullman. Nielsen and his wife Barbaree appeared together in the films Wrongfully Accused and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.
Nielsen was a keen golfer. In an interview he once said, "I don't play golf to feel bad, I play bad golf but I feel good!" Another of his famous quotes is, "The reason they call it 'golf' is that all the other four-letter words were used up!"
With Leslie Nielsen at Autographica
Leslie Nielsen died on 28th November 2010.