There are some deaths in the entertainment industry that feel completely bittersweet and the recent passing of Leslie Nielsen is one of them. It is always sad when a Hollywood legend passes away, but Nielsen was fortunate to have lived a full life and his death gives us all the opportunity to remember and celebrate his life and work. Nielsen’s brilliant deadpan made him one of the funniest actors in Hollywood and his often replicated style will always keep him fondly remembered.
Nielsen’s death came after 12 days in the hospital with a staph infection. On Sunday, his nephew Doug Nielsen reported that he passed away due to complications from pneumonia while surrounded by his wife and children.
I became a fan of Leslie Nielsen at a young age when I saw Airplane! on Comedy Central. I immediately had to introduce that comedy to my friends who were as amused as I was leading us to seek out other comparable comedies with the hilarious Nielsen. Movie marathons ensued where we watched all three Naked Gun films, Spy Hard, Wrongfully Accused, and the many films inspired by them. Nielsen was able to create a completely unique type of humor that in many cases, saved his films. His straight-faced and deadpan delivery allowed for terrible puns to become excellent laugh lines when delivered by Nielsen. Nielsen never plays the jokes, he completely buys into every line that he says, which in turn brings the audience into the bit.
My personal favorite Leslie Nieslen role is the original The Naked Gun, which was on my all-time top 200 last year. Lt. Frank Drebin is one of my all-time favorite movie characters with some of the most quotable one-liners and many moments of genuine hilarity. People often don’t realize how difficult comedy is and how Nielsen was largely the person who prevented a film like The Naked Gun from becoming something like Scary Movie.
I’ve attached several clips below from my favorite Nielsen moments:
Shirley, he will be missed.
[Source: The Wrap]