Surely, a comedy genius.

When I was 10, my parents took my brother and I on a vacation to Boston. It was the first big city I’d ever seen. But I only really remember one thing about that trip – seeing The Naked Gun in a cool underground theater. The perfect mix of brilliant one-liners, elegantly staged slapstick sequences and spot-on comic acting, the movie was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. And the main reason it all worked was Leslie Nielsen, who passed away Sunday at the age of 84. Nielsen played Lt. Frank Drebin like a steely-eyed king of the asphalt jungle, scorned by his ex-wife, struggling to find meaning in the world, murdering people at Shakespeare in the Park. He was the straight man and the funny guy, never cracking a smile yet delivering jokes with impeccable comic timing. In today’s comedy universe, nobody’s pulling that off. And while TNG is his masterpiece, Nielsen gave us much more, from Airplane to Police Squad, the quality Naked Gun sequels, and the inspired bit parts in Scary Movie 3 and 4.

I miss you already, Mr. Nielsen. I’m sure that in heaven, if you get somebody a harp for Christmas, they won’t ask you what it is.

68 Comments

  1. His comedy is wonderful, but don’t forget about the movies from his younger years! Forbidden Planet (1956) is one of my all time favorite movies, and he was SO SEXY there! Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) is another classic. That one is sort of the backdrop to my grandparents’ love story.

    He was one of a kind & I am sad to see him go.

    ~ Meagan

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  2. R.I.P Mr. Nielsen, what a great actor and comedian, Airplane was a childhood favorite. Good Blog.

    “Ted Striker: Surely you can’t be serious.
    Rumack: I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.”

    LOL…. Love the movie.

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  3. I was in high school when Police Squad was on the air, and I still remember my disappointment that TV audiences didn’t get the humor. I still laugh at Airplane and The Naked Gun all these years later. Thanks for commemorating the sad loss of this fantastic actor.

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  4. Can’t agree more! Lines from Airplane seamlessly worked their way into our vernacular without us noticing. My middle name happens to be Shirley and I wave that banner proudly! He will be missed. What a gem. Thanks for posting.

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  5. I remember him in Forbidden Planet as well, and I loved him in Police Squad, that was just a hilarious show. Of course he was brilliant in Airplane “don’t call me Shirley” and the Naked Gun films as well.

    Rest in peace Leslie, we miss you already…

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  6. Holy crap! Thanks for reading, everyone. And to WordPress for finding this “freshly pressed” worthy. I feel like Sally Field! But then again, I feel like her most days.

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  7. When I was young I remember his characters being very serious and dramatic. Then came “Airplane!” To see him playing a supposedly serious Dr. but in a comedic role was just hilarious (same with Peter Graves)! Then “The Naked Gun” movies came out and he was just so perfect for this type of comedy! I just saw “Scary Movie 4” recently on DVD and was just rolling!

    He is SO going to be missed! Great tribute! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

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  8. Funny guy — how amazing to have had one entire career playing rock-jawed leading men, and an entire second career making fun of the first career. 🙂

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  9. Congrats on being pressed! Great post. Too be honest, being the young man that I am, I sort of took Leslie Nielsen for granted. I’ve seen him in many roles, roles that made me laugh every time, but I never did take the time to think about how brilliant he was…

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  10. I can’t think of many movies that are still as great when you are watching them for the 4th or 5th time. However, “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun” are two such movies. Surely, he was a master of his craft (pun definitely intended). Rest In Peace, Leslie. You will be missed.

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  11. […] Surely, a comedy genius. (via Sweensryche sez …) Posted on November 29, 2010 by inislamicworld When I was 10, my parents took my brother and I on a vacation to Boston. It was the first big city I'd ever seen. But I only really remember one thing about that trip – seeing The Naked Gun in a cool underground theater. The perfect mix of brilliant one-liners, elegantly staged slapstick sequences and spot-on comic acting, the movie was the funniest thing I'd ever seen. And the main reason it all worked was Leslie Nielsen, who passed away Sunday … Read More […]

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  12. Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed and enjoy the ride.

    I blogged about Leslie Nielsen today too. He was not just a lovable goofball and a consummate pratfaller, he was also one of advertising’s most successful pitchmen. Here’s my tribute to the passing (wind) of a legend complete with video of him farting on breakfast television! http://bit.ly/hVFCFH

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  13. i really love this funny man’s movies…nowadays all comedy movies are not comedy at all..just copying another movies act in a funny way but fail to make someone laugh.

    Leslie nielsen in all of his movies can bring a fresh comedy and loud laugh. Great Tribute for Leslie Nielsen…i miss him so much

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  14. I thought the Police Squad series was brilliant but seemed to be under-rated in the UK.
    I remember how at the end of every episode someone would end the show with a one liner and then the action would freeze as the credits rolled, except they didn’t freeze the film the actors just …… acted frozen.

    They froze once poring coffe out of a jug into a cup and the coffee kept pouring until it was overflowing from the cup and Nielson dropped the cup and you could see his eyes move – hilarious.

    My fave line was from the locksmith episode –
    ” Who are you and how did you get in?”
    Nielson – ” I’m a locksmith and I’m a locksmith ” – genius

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  15. He was never a big star before comedy, but his face was extremely well known, and it was just totally off the wall when he started doing comedy.
    I heard a good line on the news tonight. The first half of his career he played serious guys who never smiled, and in the second half of his career he played serious guys who never smiled.
    He will be missed!

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  16. Ohhh I just got the news from your blog…..and he was 84? my god…

    He is one of the best comic artists that I have seen in Hollywood and one of my favourites.

    I am feeling a bit low now….that I cannot see this fabulous actor in any other movie again…..

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  17. Love your post, but please correct your grammar in the opening line!
    You write, “my brother and I” This should be, “my brother and ME” Caps accentuated. It’s just such a grammatical turn off from the beginning. Otherwise great writing.

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  18. Lelie Nielsen has created his own trademark in comedy.
    He don’t need to be compared with other comedians because he was unique in his style.
    Good bye Leslie Nielsen, you touched my life.

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  19. I so loved “The Naked Gun”, everytime I’d see Nielsen on any movie I could always remember him on that movie. He made a lot of us laugh on his films, truly a great comedian he is.

    So long Mr. Nielsen, you will always be remembered.

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  20. There is certainly something about this legend that made those films the icons they are. I don’t think for second they would’ve been as successful without Neilsen spearheading them.

    His deadpan acting and timing are poetry in motion.

    They certainly don’t make ’em like that anymore.

    RIP

    Reply

  21. The Naked Gun series, probably one of the few slapstick comedies that I have enjoyed. Watched a rerun of the first franchise recently before his passing, my family and I could not stop laughing. RIP Leslie Nielsen.

    Reply

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