Great loss, i loved Airplane ..........
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Leslie Nielsen, a Canadian-born actor who went from drama to inspired bumbling as a hapless doctor in "Airplane!" and the accident-prone detective Frank Drebin in the "The Naked Gun" comedies, died on Sunday in Florida. He was 84.
His agent John S. Kelly said Nielsen died at a hospital near his home in Ft. Lauderdale where he was being treated for pneumonia.
Nielsen's nephew Doug Nielsen, who lives in Richmond, B.C., said his uncle had been hospitalized for the past 12 days and died in his sleep with wife Barbaree by his side.
Nielsen's Canadian roots run deep. Though he eventually became a naturalized U.S. citizen, his father was a Mountie and his brother, Erik Nielsen, served as an MP in Yukon and as deputy prime minister in Brian Mulroney's Conservative government.
Leslie Nielsen was born Feb. 11, 1926 in Regina.
At age 17, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and trained as an aerial gunner.
After the war, he worked as a disc jockey at a Calgary radio station, then studied at a Toronto radio school operated by Lorne Greene, who would go on to star on the hit TV series "Bonanza." A scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse brought him to New York, where he immersed himself in live television.
Nielsen was in more than 100 films, including 2002's "Men With Brooms," co-starring Paul Gross. In recent years, he appeared on the Canadian TV series "Robson Arms."
Among his lesser known, but truly-Canuck performances, was a two-minute narration for a video shown to the Queen and thousands of spectators in England when she was presented with a horse from the RCMP's Musical Ride in 2009.
In 2003, Canadian actors union ACTRA presented him with its Award of Excellence for more than a half-century of making movies.
Doug Nielsen said he and his own wife had only two weeks ago enjoyed watching "Tammy and the Bachelor," in which Nielsen starred in 1957.
"He was always a funny guy," the 63-year-old said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"When he started out he was a serious actor and then after 'Airplane' the whole world changed for him."
As a teen, the elder Nielsen had invited Doug to visit him on film and TV sets in California, even encouraging him to become an actor. The nephew instead became a dentist — and his uncle would fly to Canada so Doug could take care of his teeth.
"We loved him dearly and we'll miss him and he was a good friend of mine, not just my uncle. I think that's a tribute to him and his interests and just his warmth."
Don McKellar, an acclaimed Canadian writer, filmmaker and star of the cartoon TV series "Odd Job Jack" which featured Nielsen in an episode, said Sunday that he only met the comic actor a couple of times but enjoyed working with him.
"He reinvented that funny straightman for his generation, you see some of that oblivious straight guy in Steve Carell and Will Ferrell."
Nielsen came to Hollywood in the mid-1950s after performing in 150 live television dramas in New York. With a craggily handsome face, blond hair and 6-foot-2 height, he seemed ideal for a movie leading man.
Nielsen first performed as the king of France in the Paramount operetta "The Vagabond King" with Kathryn Grayson.
The film — he called it "The Vagabond Turkey" — flopped, but MGM signed him to a seven-year contract.
His first film for that studio was auspicious — as the space ship commander in the science fiction classic "Forbidden Planet." He found his best dramatic role as the captain of an overturned ocean liner in the 1972 disaster movie, "The Poseidon Adventure."
He became known as a serious actor, although behind the camera he was a prankster. That was an aspect of his personality never exploited, however, until "Airplane!" was released in 1980 and became a huge hit.
As the doctor aboard a plane in which the pilots, and some of the passengers, become violently ill, Nielsen says they must get to a hospital right away.
"A hospital? What is it?" a flight attendant asks, inquiring about the illness.
"It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now," Nielsen deadpans.
When he asks a passenger if he can fly the plane, the man replies, "Surely you can't be serious."
Nielsen responds: "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley."
Critics argued he was being cast against type, but Nielsen disagreed.
"I've always been cast against type before," he said, adding comedy was what he'd really always wanted to do.
It was what he would do for most of the rest of his career, appearing in such comedies as "Repossessed" (a takeoff on the demonic possession movies like "The Exorcist") and "Mr. Magoo," in which he played the title role of the good-natured bumbler.
Nielsen did play Debbie Reynolds' sweetheart in the popular "Tammy and the Bachelor," a loanout to Universal, and he became well known to baby boomers for his role as the Revolutionary War fighter Francis Marion in the Disney TV adventure series "The Swamp Fox."
Unhappy with his roles at MGM, he asked to be released from his contract. As a freelancer, he appeared in a series of undistinguished movies.
"I played a lot of leaders, autocratic sorts; perhaps it was my Canadian accent," he reasoned.
Meanwhile, he remained active in television in guest roles. He also starred in his own series, "The New Breed," ''The Protectors" and "Bracken's World," but all were short-lived.
Then "Airplane!" captivated audiences and changed everything.
Producers-directors-writers Jim Abrahams, David and Jerry Zucker had hired Robert Stack, Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges and Nielsen to spoof their heroic TV images in a satire of flight-in-jeopardy movies.
After the movie's success, the filmmaking trio cast their newfound comic star as Detective Drebin in a TV series, "Police Squad," which trashed the cliches of "Dragnet" and other cop shows. Despite good reviews, NBC cancelled it after only four episodes.
"It didn't belong on TV," Nielsen later commented. "It had the kind of humour you had to pay attention to."
The Zuckers and Abraham converted the series into a feature film, "The Naked Gun," with George Kennedy, O.J. Simpson and Priscilla Presley as Nielsen's co-stars. Its huge success led to sequels "The Naked Gun 2 1/2" and "The Naked Gun 33 1/3."
His later movies included "All I Want for Christmas," ''Dracula: Dead and Loving It" and "Spy Hard."
Between films he often turned serious, touring with his one-man show on the life of the great defence lawyer, Clarence Darrow.
Nielsen has stars on both Hollywood's and Canada's Walk of Fame.
He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002.
Nielsen also was married to: Monica Boyer, 1950-1955; Sandy Ullman, 1958-74; and Brooks Oliver, 1981-85.
Nielsen and his second wife had two daughters, Thea and Maura.
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Great loss, i loved Airplane ..........
Sad news. Thanks for all the laughs over the years Mr. Nielsen.Rest in peace.
R.I.P. There will be a funny week in heaven these days..
Sad news... Rest in peace.