"I'm afraid if I don't keep moving, they're going to catch me ... I am 81 years old and I want to see what's around the corner, and I don't see any reason in the world not to keep working. But I am starting to value my down time a great deal because I am realizing there might be other things to do that I am overlooking."Leslie William Nielsen (February 11, 1926 – November 28, 2010) was a Canadian-born actor and comedian. Originally trained at Toronto's Neighborhood Playhouse, he first became known as a dramatic lead debuting in The Vagabond King. Though the movie wasn't a success, Nielsen soon achieved fame as Commander John J. Adams in Forbidden Planet, and subsequently starred in many films and television shows as a romantic or dramatic leading man.He is, however, best known for his comedic career, starting with a Casting Gag role in Airplane!, where his deadpan delivery in the face of nonstop absurdity stole the film. The film's success rejuvenated his career, and Nielsen soon found himself starring in other comic works, most notably Police Squad! and The Naked Gun. All together, he has appeared in over a hundred films and 1,500 television programs, and was so well-loved as a comical actor that Roger Ebert gave him the Affectionate Nickname "Laurence Olivier of spoofs".In many of his comedic roles, he grew somewhat notorious for keeping his fellow actors (and even the directors) on their toes by concealing and manipulating a whoopee cushion, making farting noises with it at unexpected times, often cracking the whole cast and crew up.He died of complications from pneumonia in November 2010, at the age of 84.His epitaph reads: "Let 'er Rip." Because that's how he rolls. When interviewed, he asked what he would want inscribed on his gravestone, and he answered with this. And yes, he added in a perfectly timed squeeze of the whoopee cushion to punctuate the answer. ( You can virtually visit his grave on Find A Grave, here.)His start as a dramatic actor, which eventually transitioned into doing comedies instead inspired the name of the trivia item Leslie Nielsen Syndrome (the inversion of Tom Hanks Syndrome).
— Leslie Nielsen (reflecting on his career)
Leslie Nielsen appears in the following works detailed on TV Tropes:
- 2001: A Space Travesty
- Airplane!, where the whole joke to his character was meant to be that he was a serious actor bringing all his chops to utterly absurd lines. Naturally, this is a bit lost today.
- All I Want for Christmas
- Bad Golf Made Easier, Bad Golf My Way, Stupid Little Golf Video
- The Canadian Conspiracy, a 1985 HBO Mockumentary which riffs on the fact that his older brother Erik was Deputy Prime Minister to Brian Mulroney, and included a whole bunch of Canadians in Hollywood (including both Lorne Greene and Lorne Michaels, to say nothing of William Shatner and Michael J. Fox) trying to subvert the US government. Yes.
- City on Fire
- Columbo, having played in two films- in the first season as the fiancee of the murderer, and again in the fifth season as a corrupt CIA agent murdered by his own partner.
- Day of the Animals
- Due South: Where his character is eventually described as having "an extraordinary resemblance to the Canadian actor and comedian Leslie Nielson."
- Dracula: Dead and Loving It
- Forbidden Planet
- The Golden Girls: Plays Lucas Williamson, marrying Dorothy in the series finale.
- M*A*S*H: He plays a colonel in one episode gaslit into thinking he has battle fatigue and going stateside to cool off.
- Men with Brooms
- Mr. Magoo (live-action movie)
- Police Squad!
- The Naked Gun series, a sequel to Police Squad!
- The Poseidon Adventure
- Prom Night (1980)
- Scary Movie 3 and 4
- S.P.Q.R.: 2000 and a half years ago, an Italian comedy movie among many starring veteran actors Massimo Boldi and Christian De Sica; this movie — otherwise rather forgettable — is known for having been graced by Leslie Nielsen himself.
- Stan Helsing
- Superhero Movie
- Spy Hard
- Viva Knievel
- Wrongfully Accused
Leslie Nielsen's career and works demonstrate the following tropes:
- The Comically Serious: Nielsen rebuilt himself as a comedian exactly because him saying absurd lines in a serious tone turned out to be hilarious.
- It can be very jarring for those who've only seen his comedic roles to come across his earlier, dramatic performances. He was a highly skilled dramatic actor, and when playing psychopaths or other hardened characters, he brought a chilling intensity to the role.
- Funny Background Event: Sometimes unconnected with what Nielsen's character is doing, more often something he inadvertently sets off and then carries on in the background of his main scene.
- I Was Quite a Looker: In The '50s, such as in Forbidden Planet◊. He later turned into a Silver Fox of sorts.
- No Sense of Humor: Allegedly, the reason Leslie was so good with his famous deadpan delivery was because he genuinely didn't understood the comedy behind the lines he was given.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Many of his roles. Once the comedian phase begun, because doctors/priests/policemen/presidents saying ridiculous things help the hilarity.