Actor Leslie Nielsen has died at age 84. The cause was complications from pneumonia, a spokesman said.
Here’s an appreciation of Leslie Nielsen’s comic style from NPR. He was a formerly straight actor who found gold with silly deadpan comedy in Airplane in 1980. After that he became both straight man and punchline for a generation of moviegoers, nearly always in spoofs, parodies, and gag films of all kinds.
It wasn’t all gags from the start. Here he was as a spaceship commander, with robot and ray gun, in Forbidden Planet in 1956:
He stuck around as a semi-star for decades, guesting on TV shows like The Virginian and Ironside. (He even played the ship’s captain in the original disaster movie, The Poseidon Adventure, in 1972.) But then came the disaster-movie spoof Airplane! in 1980. That’s Leslie NIelsen second from right, with another famous silver-haired actor, Peter Graves, as the pilot.
By 1991 it was full-on silliness with The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Nielsen!