Legendary comedy actor Leslie Nielsen has died at age 84 due to complications from pneumonia brought on as he was battling a staph infection. This is actually a really difficult tribute for me to write, because I’ve loved Nielsen’s comedies since a very early age. I still remember watching Airplane! and The Naked Gun with my dad, the two of us laughing our heads off at all the bad puns and goofy slapstick. Nielsen had such a talent for deadpan delivery that he could say even the silliest lines with a serious expression, which of course only made them funnier.
If I’m not careful, this tribute could easily turn into a list of my favourite Naked Gun and Airplane! jokes – and there are many, believe me – but I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of Leslie’s more serious roles, such as his turn as Commander Adams in the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet…
…or as the ship’s captain in The Poseidon Adventure.
But his comedies are what Leslie Nielsen will be remembered for, and with good reason. The Naked Gun trilogy and Airplane! are, in my opinion, some of the funniest movies ever made. Once you see them, you’ll be quoting them for the rest of your life. Rest in peace, Leslie Nielsen. And don’t worry: I won’t call you Shirley.