Leslie Nielsen dead? Surely you can’t be serious

November 28, 2010

Leslie Nielsen, the dramatic actor who reinvented himself with a comic flair after the classic movie “Airplane!” died Sunday in Fort Lauderdale. The Canadian-born actor, 84, had been battling pneumonia.

Nielsen burst into movie history as the spaceship captain in the 1950’s sci-fi thriller “Forbidden Planet,” followed by a starring turn as “The Swamp Fox” Francis Marion, who fought the British during the American Revolution on “Walt Disney Presents.” Nielsen’s career continued through the 1960’s and ’70s, mainly in television dramas.

Everything changed in 1980 when Nielsen agreed to star at Dr. Rumack for the Zucker Brothers in “Airplane!” where he poked fun at his serious image along with Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and Lloyd Bridges. That association with the Zuckers led Nielsen to spend the second half of his career lampooning everything from police work to Mister Magoo in one silly comedy after another.

Aside from “Airplane!” Nielsen’s best success at the box office came thanks to his starring role as hapless Detective Frank Drebin in the “Naked Gun” movies and the original short-lived television show “Police Squad!”

Nielsen appeared locally at the Performing Arts Center back in the 1990’s when he toured with his one-man show about famed attorney Clarence Darrow.

Funeral arrangements are pending.



  1. Paladin says:

    Lt Det. Sgt. Frank Drebin (his title always changed) will be remembered. I still get a giggle when I think of him about to brief the City Council and he drinks the pitcher of water (Naked Gun 33 1/3?). He has a body mike on and then realizes he needs to use the restroom.

    A few months back, while at church and before the service, the Reverend had a body mike on. He went back to office for something and the phone rang. The folks inside could hear one half of the conversation.

    I said “Let’s hope he doesn’t do a Frank Drebin before the City Council meeting” It got quite a few laughs. A lot of people remembered the movie.

    Thank you for all the joy and laughs you brought to so many Leslie.

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  2. jeremy fisher says:

    Don’t call me Surely!

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  3. Nancimeek says:

    I worked with him on a show in the early 90’s called “flesh and blood” We shot it on the lot at Paramount He was hysterical on and off camera One day he brought a small plastic round device called the “La Farter” and took me aside telling me we were going to have fun So we walked around while he made the noise with his toy in his pants pocket He was hysterical I remember telling him I thought he must have been a really cool and fun dad with his kids. He really will be missed I don’t usually mention people I have worked with but he deserves a comment.

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  4. ososkid says:

    I was introduced to the whole world of schtick comedy by Leslie Nielsen. When I was in Jr High and saw the Naked Gun movies I was blown away. 99% of the time when someone famous dies, I find myself unmoved. I am suprised to be saddened at Nielsen’s passing, but saddened I am.

    Lt. Frank Drebin: I’m single! I love being single! I haven’t had this much sex since I was a Boy Scout leader!

    [Music stops playing. Everyone stops talking and stares at him]

    Lt. Frank Drebin: [to everybody] I mean at the time I was dating a lot.

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    • Dave says:

      Los Angeles mayor, played by Nancy Marchand: “Now Drebin, I don’t want any trouble like you had on the South Side last year, that’s my policy.

      Drebin: Well, when I see five weirdos, dressed in togas, stabbing a man in the middle of the park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that’s *my* policy!

      Mayor: That was a Shakespeare-In-The-Park production of ‘Julius Caesar,’ you moron! You killed five actors!”

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  5. willie says:

    84 year old is the average mortality.
    Living to 100 is too old, living to age 90 may make you a burden to others.
    I stop working in the motion picture industry 30 years ago. Many actors like Leslie lived a good life.
    (Abraham Lincoln) “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
    So everyone know what the the end is, but it is the journey that is important and not the destination or end.

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  6. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    I for one am sad to hear of Leslie’s Passing. Leslie thanks for the many laughs in your later movies from Airplane, to Naked Gun, to Mr. Magoo. You are the Schtick master. Rest in peace.

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