Hilarious Master of Spoofs Leslie Nielsen Has Passed Away at 84
"Surely you can't be serious?" "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley." Earlier this year we said goodbye to actor Peter Graves, and now sad news hits again as another legendary cast member of the comedy Airplane! has passed away. Canadian talk radio station CJOB 68 in Manitoba reports actor Leslie Nielsen has passed away due to complications from pneumonia at age 84. His nephew Doug Nielsen revealed the very sad news tonight that after being hospitalized for nearly two weeks, the infection was "just too much and at 5.30, with his friends and his wife by his side, he just fell asleep and passed away." We remember Leslie Neilsen below.
When I was a kid there were plenty of movies I saw well before I was old enough to truly enjoy them. Ones that stick out the most are Airplane! and the first two installments of the Naked Gun series. Though there were plenty of jokes that went over my head, I remember loving the goofy nature and slapstick elements of the comedy. Later I would be excited about lesser praised comedies like Spy Hard, Dracula: Dead and Loving It and even Surf Ninjas simply because of the presence of Leslie Nielsen. The man was truly a master of comedy.
However, Nielsen started out on television back in the 60's with more dramatic roles in classic TV series like "Peyton Place" and "The New Breed" and even appearances in "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" and "The Untouchables." But it was his turn as Dr. Rumack in Airplane!, from directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, that would lead him to one of his most iconic turns as Detective Frank Drebin in the trio's comedy series "Police Squad!"
Later he would take the same role to the big screen with The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad and two sequels to follow. It's hard to imagine a time when O.J. Simpson was funny and spoofs weren't just box office dredge that hit theaters in the dead season of January and February, but Leslie Nielsen worked hard to deliver some of the best laughs people have ever had. Those run circles around and dig graves for the dead-on-arrival spoofs like Epic Movie. Though we greatly admire his early work in drama, below we've included a montage video of some our favorite funny Leslie Nielsen moments:
The hilarious work of the late and infinitely great Leslie Nielsen:
This is truly a sad loss today for the entertainment industry and audiences alike. As I continue to get older, the celebrities passing away are hitting a little too close to home more than they were before. Fortunately, Leslie Nielsen has left behind a legacy of greatness in drama and comedy stirring up a myriad of emotions throughout a wonderful career that spans over 60 years, and we will remember him fondly. Rest in peace.