The New Stuff

ACTOR LESLIE NIELSEN DEAD AT 84


LOS ANGELES, Calif. -----Actor Leslie Nielsen who starred in “Airplane!,” and the Naked Gun comedies died on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84.

Nielsen, whose career spanned over 60-years, died from complications from pneumonia at a hospital near his home at 5:34 p.m. Nielsen was surrounded by his wife Barbaee and friends according to his agent John S. Kelly.

"We are saddened by the passing of beloved actor Leslie Nielsen, probably best remembered as Lt. Frank Drebin in 'The Naked Gun' series,” said Kelly.

The blond haired, 6-foot-2 Nielsen who was the ideal leading man came to Hollywood in the mid-1950’s as  a dramatic actor and played the captain of an overturned ocean liner in the 1972 disaster movie, ”The Poseidon Adventure.”  Nielson later found his niche and became a household name  playing  bumbling, accident  prone characters in film and television.

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.

Nielsen went on to star in such films as, “Spy Hard,” “Dracula Dead and Loving It” and “All I want  for Christmas.”

The Canadian actor was born in Regina, Saskatchewan on Feb 11, 1926. His father, who was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was known for his violent behavior toward Nielsen and his two brothers. At the age of 17 Nielsen joined the Royal Canadian Air Force even though he was legally deaf and wore hearing aids most of his life.

Following his tour of duty with RCAF, Nielsen went on to work as a disc jockey for a couple of Canadian radio stations. A scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse brought Nielsen to New York and eventually landed him roles on live television.

Among his numerous awards, in 1988, he became the 1 884th personality to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  In 1995 Leslie Nielsen received UCLA's Jack Benny Award for his comedic roles. In 2001 he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame and was later made an officer of the Order of Canada.  

Nielsen is survived by his wife of nine-years and two daughters from a previous marriage.

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