Leslie Neilsen will most certainly be remembered for his comical roles, especially as Frank Drebin in the hit TV show Police Squad and subsequent movie follow ups, the Naked Gun series, despite his career starting with serious roles.
The 84-year-old actor, born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada died last night after complications with pneumonia at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
His career spanned almost 60 years and from his humble beginnings in a 1948 television role he went on to star in over 100 films and made 1500 TV programs, portraying an incredible 220 different characters.
Nielsen’s first major film role came in 1956 where he starred as the dashingly handsome Commander J.J. Adams in the sci-fi classic, Forbidden Planet. Following on from that in 1972 he starred as the captain of the doomed vessel in the perennial Christmas classic, The Poseidon Adventure.
His career took a major turn in the 1980’s when he stepped into comedy, first taking up the post of a doctor in the spoof disaster flick Airplane!
It was through comedy that Nielsen really became a cult figure, delivering punch lines with the kind of dryness that would make a desert sweat. The more absurd the line the better Nielsen seemed suited, as witnessed in the ridiculous Naked Gun trilogy in which he reprised his Frank Drebin character for the big screen. Horror-comedies, Dracula: Dead and Loving it, and Repossessed (a spoof of The Exorcist) added to his comedy CV and made him a firm favourite amongst comedy fans the world over.
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