The most unexpected comic superstar of the 1990’s was one-time leading man Leslie Nielsen, who died today at age 84. The son of a Canadian mountie, Nielsen appeared in a number of golden age television dramas before his lead role in “Forbidden Planet,” an outer-space drama inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” He went on to play bland leads and less-bland heavies in crime stories, costume drama, and even one of the sugary Tammy movies along with television Westerns “Daniel Boone” and “Wagon Train.” In the 1960’s-70’s he appeared in many television series including the popular medical shows “Ben Casey” and “Dr. Kildare” and crime shows “Columbo,” “Cannon,” and “SWAT” and was a regular on the nighttime soap opera, “Peyton Place.” He was the ship captain in the cheesy classic, “The Poseidon Adventure.”
And then came Airplane! in 1981, where his classic, sliver-haired handsome look and deadpan delivery turned him into an immediate comic superstar. He went on to acclaim in the silly Police Squad! television series and the The Naked Gun movies. Some of Nielsen’s best lines have been collected by the Huffington Post.
May his memory be a blessing and may those who loved him find comfort in sharing their loss with his many fans.