Monday, November 29, 2010

Farewell Mr Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen, the veteran Canadian actor who passed away at 84 on November 28, 2010 was best remembered for his character Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun film series.

Read all about him here. Thanks Wikipedia.

Leslie William Nielsen (February 11, 1926 – November 28, 2010) was a Canadian-American actor and comedian.

Nielsen appeared in over 100 films and 1,500 television programmes over the span of his career, portraying over 220 characters.

Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Nielsen enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and worked as a disc jockey before receiving a scholarship to Neighbourhood Playhouse.

Beginning with a television role in 1948, he quickly expanded to over 50 television appearances two years later.

Nielsen appeared in his first films in 1956 and began collecting roles in dramas, westerns and romance films.

Nielsen's lead roles in the science fiction film Forbidden Planet (1956) [based on Shakespeare's The Tempest] and disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure (1972) received positive reviews.

Although his acting career crossed a variety of genres in both television and films, Nielsen's deadpan delivery as a doctor in 1980's Airplane! marked a turning point in his career, one that would make him, in the words of film critic Roger Ebert, "the Olivier of spoofs."

Nielsen enjoyed further success with The Naked Gun and its sequels, based on a brief television series he starred in.

His portrayal of serious characters seemingly oblivious to (and complicit in) their absurd surroundings gave him a reputation as a comedian.

In the last decades of his career, Nielsen appeared in multiple spoof and parody films, many of which were met poorly by critics but performed well in box office and home media releases.

Nielsen was recognised with a variety of awards throughout his career and was inducted into both the Canada and Hollywood Walks Of Fame.

He married four times and had two daughters from his second marriage.

Nielsen's uncle Jean Hersholt inspired him to become an actor.

Nielsen was born in Regina, Saskatchewan.

His mother, Mabel Elizabeth Davies, was a Welsh immigrant from Fulham, London, and his father, Ingvard Eversen Nielsen, was a Danish-born Constable in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Nielsen had two brothers. His elder brother, Erik Nielsen (1924–2008), was Deputy Prime Minister of Canada during the 1980s.

Their uncle, Hersholt, was an actor best known for his portrayal of Dr Christian in the long-running radio series of the same name and the subsequent television series and films.

Following his graduation from Victoria Composite High School in Edmonton, at 17, Nielsen enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was trained as an aerial gunner during the latter part of World War II (but was too young to be fully trained and sent overseas).

He briefly worked as a disc jockey at a radio station in Calgary, Alberta, before enrolling at the Lorne Greene Academy of Radio Arts in Toronto.

When he was studying in Toronto, Nielsen received a scholarship for the Neighbourhood Playhouse in the United States.

He later attended the Actors Studio, before making his first television appearance in 1948 on an episode of Studio One, alongside Charlton Heston.

It was not until 1956 when he made his feature film debut in the Michael Curtiz-directed musical film The Vagabond King.

Forbidden Planet in 1956 became an instant success, and roles in Ransom! (1956), The Opposite Sex (1956) and Hot Summer Night (1957) followed.

In 1957 he got the lead role opposite Debbie Reynolds in the romantic comedy Tammy And The Bachelor.

Nielsen also landed the lead role in the Disney mini-series The Swamp Fox, as American Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion.

His early television appearances included parts in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Virginian, and The Wild Wild West.

In 1968, he had a major role in the pilot film for the popular police series Hawaii Five-O, and appeared in one of the episodes in the seventh season.

In 1969, he had the leading role as a police officer in The Bold Ones: The Protectors.

Nielsen also starred in the William Girdler-directed 1977 action film Project: Kill.

His last role before portraying mainly comedy roles was the Canadian disaster film City On Fire in which he played a corrupt mayor.

In 1980, he guest starred on the CBS mini-series The Chisholms.

Nielsen's comedic breakthrough came with a supporting role in 1980's Airplane!, a parody of Zero Hour!, Airport, and other movies that dealt with air travel.

In Airplane! his deadpan delivery contrasted with the continual absurdity surrounding him.

The film's directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, chose Nielsen for the role based on his ability to play "a fish in water".

The film The Naked Gun spawned two sequels, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell Of Fear (1991) and Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult (1994).

Nielsen briefly appeared in the World Wrestling Federation in the summer of 1994 on Monday Night RAW, capitalising on his Frank Drebin character.

In 1997, he played Mr Magoo in the live action version of the popular cartoon.

He also appeared in Scary Movie 3 (2003) and 4 (2006).

Nielsen hosted a series of golf instructional videos beginning with 1993's Bad Golf Made Easier.

In his eighties, Nielsen continued to have an active career.

He performed serious roles on screen and stage as well as providing voice-overs and on-camera appearances for commercials.

The sibling relationship with his elder brother Erik Nielsen, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, served as the premise of an HBO mockumentary titled The Canadian Conspiracy.

Nielsen starred in it along with prominent Canadian-born media personalities.

Among his numerous awards, in 1995 Leslie Nielsen received UCLA's Jack Benny Award for his comedic roles.

In 1988, he became the 1,884th personality to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

In 2001 he was inducted into Canada's Walk Of Fame.

The following year he was made an Officer Of The Order Of Canada.

On February 20, 2002, Nielsen was named an honorary citizen of West Virginia.