This is one of those days I always feared would come. Leslie Nielsen has always been a personal hero of mine and now he’s gone at the age of 84. I remember seeing my first Leslie Nielsen movie back in the early, early 90′s – I think it was “Naked Gun 2 1/2″ (yeah, I saw them out of order.) David Zucker’s films had such a great take on parody at the time, and it inspired me to spend a lot of my childhood drawing up spoof comics of my favorite movies (which are all stored in the bottom of my closet somewhere.) But it was always Leslie Nielsen (or Charlie Sheen) who truly made the films shine.
I think what separated Leslie Nielsen from other spoof actors is the fact that, much like his co-star Lloyd Bridges, he was a well-respected dramatic actor years before even starring in “Airplane.” He brought authentic talent and enthusiasm to his roles, so when he reminded someone not to call him Shirley, we would actually believe he thought people were calling him Shirley. The novelty of seeing this great actor take on such crazy roles pretty much launched his career for the next thirty years. And it’s not like today when spoofs just phone in D-list actors for their parts – for him, it all came down to the art of delivering the lines and keeping a straight face when he’s talking into a banana.
Anyhow, I dug out a rather good tribute to his career out of the hundreds that have recently swamped YouTube. Here’s a look at the life of a comedy legend:
I also found someone uploaded one of my favorite scenes from “The Naked Gun,” so watch and enjoy!
Leslie Nielsen, thanks for all the great memories.