Postmedia News, National Posthttp://www.nationalpost.com/m/blog.html?b=arts.nationalpost.com/2010/11/28/comedian-leslie-nielsen-dead-at-84&s=Opinion
Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010
Iconic Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen has died.
Nielsen appeared in more than 100 movies, with the star shining perhaps most brightly in comedies including Airplane! The Naked Gun.
He died Sunday afternoon in a hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from complications of pneumonia. He was 84.
Nielsen’s nephew, Doug Nielsen, who lives in Richmond, B.C., said his uncle had been in the hospital with pneumonia for 12 days, and in the last 48 hours it got worse.
“This afternoon, surrounded by family, his wife and friends, he basically just fell asleep. It was very peaceful,” he said.
“He was truly a nice man. A very caring, naturally funny guy in day-to-day life, not just because someone wrote something on paper for him. He was a very tender-hearted man. He was one of my best friends and I loved him dearly. I’ll miss him greatly.”
His family also released a statement Sunday night.
“We are saddened by the passing of beloved actor Leslie Nielsen, probably best remembered as Lt. Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun series of pictures, but who enjoyed a more than 60 year career in motion pictures and television,” said the statement.
Nielsen’s father was a Mountie and the actor moved around as child, growing up in Regina, Edmonton and towns in northern Canada.
Nielsen once said he was never the class clown. “In those days, I was too busy trying to be Mr. Perfect. You try to be Mr. Perfect so that your parents can find nothing wrong with you. They have a lot of other things to think about like putting food on the table, so you just don’t want to rock the boat.”
However, he began to suspect comedy was in his genes after he discovered some details of his father’s life.
“I remember seeing pictures of my father at RCMP Sports Days, and he was in a clown outfit. He was the regiment clown.”
Nielsen got his foot into the showbiz door through radio, as an engineer, disc jockey and announcer at a Calgary station.
In December 1949, Nielsen broke into the fresh medium of live television. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, Nielsen constantly worked in TV action series, such as Wagon Train, The Fugitive, The Virginian, Cannon Kojak Gunsmoke’s Matt Dillon.
Throughout his career, he appeared in some of the best-known television programs, including M*A*S*H, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hawaii Five-O, Columbo Murder, She Wrote.
However, he may be most recognizable for his comedic big-screen roles. In Airplane! Nielsen uttered an often-quoted retort to the question: “Surely, you can’t be serious?”
“I am serious . . . and don’t call me Shirley,” he said.
In 2003, Nielsen received both a lifetime achievement award from the Alberta Motion Pictures Industries Association and was presented with an Award of Excellence from the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.
He received the Order of Canada in December 2003.
With files from the Edmonton Journal and the Vancouver Sun