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Deadpan Master Leslie Nielsen

Most people will find this hard to believe, but Leslie Nielsen started his career as a serious actor and leading man.  He was the commander in Forbidden Planet and the captain on The Poseidon Adventure.   This Canadian-born actor began his career in the early years of television, playing different roles in different live productions.  At times he was making $100 an episode!

This dramatic actor got his shot at comedy when he played the doctor in one of AFI's more lauded comedies Airplane!  The film worked because serious actors spoke their lines seriously, never realizing they were in a comedy.  We at ComedyGuys know all about speaking lines and not realizing they were to be funny.

After Airplane!, Roger Ebert called Nielsen the Laurence Olivier of spoofs.  To that Nielsen said, “I guess that would make Laurence Olivier the Leslie Nielsen of Shakespeare.”

He turned this into a second career by doing both the Police Squad! television series and The Naked Gun group of flicks.  In these movies, he — along with Elvis — got to be married to Priscilla Presley. And like Nicole Brown, he was partnered with OJ Simpson, though with much funnier results.

Leslie is quoted as saying:

  • “I really have to keep an eye on myself because sometimes I think I might say something important.”
  • “Doing nothing is very hard to do…you never know when you are finished.”
  • “The reason they call it ‘golf' is that all the other four letter words were used up.”

He passed away in November of 2010 after a bout with pneumonia.  His epitaph on his tombstone reads, “Let ‘er rip.”

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