R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen in October 2008
Leslie Nielsen in October 2008

Leslie Nielsen (picture ©Jerry Angelica) died yesterday from the complications of pneumonia in a hospital near his house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Leslie William Nielsen was born on February 11, 1926 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. His father was Danish and his mother Welsh. His older brother Erik Nielsen was an important politician in Canada.

Leslie Nielsen enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II but he was too young to be sent to fight in Europe. After the war he briefly worked in a Calgary radio then he moved to New York to study theater and music thanks to a scholarship.

In 1948 Leslie Nielsen made his television debut in the show “Studio One” where he worked with Charlton Heston.

Nielsen worked in television for the next years but then he started finding dramatic roles in cinema, where he made his debut in “Ransom!” in 1956. Later that year he had one of the most important roles in his career in the famous science fiction movie “Forbidden Planet”.

Leslie Nielsen career went on with many parts in successful movies and TV shows.

A turning point in Leslie Nielsen career, until that moment focused on dramatic roles, arrived with the 1980 movie “Airplane!”. The movie was a success for critics and audience also thanks to Leslie Nielsen performance: he always appeared serious among humorous gags.

In 1982 Leslie Nielsen became the lead actor in the TV show “Police Squad!”, a parody of detective movies and TV shows. Despite critics praises the show was suspended after just six episodes that were repeated many times on TV. In 1988 the first of three movies inspired to the TV show was produced – “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” – with great success.

During the following years Leslie Nielsen acted in various other comedies but they didn’t have the same success. In 2007 Nielsen acted in the humorous but also educational show “Doctor*Ology”.

Leslie Nielsen has been married four times, he had a son from his first wife and two daughters from his second wife. He also had eight grand-children. In 2002 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada even if he had become a USA citizen.

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