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Leslie Nielsen: Dead and Loving It

By Brian Prisco | Miscellaneous | November 28, 2010 |

By Brian Prisco | Miscellaneous | November 28, 2010 |

When I heard that Leslie Nielsen died, I was sad. And then I laughed. And then I was sad again. While he was probably known to most of us for the wacky comedic antics of his later career, he actually started out as an ingenue. He was a chiseled leading man with dramatic chops. He starred in Forbidden Planet, which many Trekkies consider the godfather to their beloved series. He played Captain Harrison in the original Poseidon Adventure, the captain who tries to save everyone from the tsunami wave before it drowns them all in the cabin. I fondly remember him in the original Prom Night and Creepshow, where he played the villainous husband who tortures his wife and her lover (Ted Danson) by buring them up to their necks in sand as the tide comes in.

Of course, it was Airplane and “Police Squad” that made Nielsen’s later career. With that deadpan delivery and seemingly goodhearted bumble, he was the archetype for Steve Carell’s Michael Scott. If you’ve never once quoted a line that Leslie Nielsen has delivered, it’s because you’re dead inside.

He kind of rode the wave of the spoof into the sunset. The films he did were progressively worse — but no matter how terrible the film, we still loved Nielsen. Even when I caught bits and pieces of Spy Hard and Scary Movie 4, despite how godawful those films were, you still laughed at Nielsen. Roger Ebert called him the “Lawrence Olivier of spoofs” and it’s true. Though, I’d probably call him the Orson Welles of Spoofs, because he was selling himself out and he just didn’t care, because he was having too much damn fun.

Nielsen died from complications from pneumonia on November 28th. He was 84. Surely, he will be greatly missed.

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