Monday, November 29, 2010


"It hurts. Oh, sure maybe not as much as jumping on a bike with the seat missing, but it hurts!"
-Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear

Leslie Nielsen has died. Most people know him these days as a comedic actor, but the truth is he was a very fine dramatic actor, the sort who played authority figures very well. For example he was (as you can see in the picture) one of the guys in Forbidden Planet. The reason the Airplane movie worked so well at the time was that they took people like Robert Stack and Leslie Nielsen who were well known as serious actors and gave them comedic roles. It was really funny to see them out of type and being goofy.

Over time Nielsen become more of a clown and lost the humor in being a straight man put in comedic situations, but he was always fun to watch and seemed to really enjoy his roles. Nielsen's best comedic work was in the Police Squad TV show (which carried over well to the first movie Naked Gun). He didn't mug or do zany things, he was completely straight and delivered his lines as if he meant them... but they were hilarious and he was great at it.

So my condolences to his family and friends, and thanks for all the laughs, Mr Nielsen.


eric said...

My wife and I were watching the news over some coffee this morning and they reported this, and somebody said something to the effect of, "Nielsen was best known as a clown, but also performed well in dramatic roles early in his carreer."

My wife made what I thought was an excellent point: If he hadn't shifted from drama to comedy, his death probably wouldn't have been on the national news this morning. Being a good comedian is every bit as valuable and honorable as being a good dramatic actor. Some of the commentary I've heard today (not yours) seems to be saying, "He was known for being funny but he was really a substantial actor in spite of that." I say surely we honor his memory better by praising him for what he was best at, making us laugh... and if he were here he'd agree, and then he'd say, "Don't call me Shirley.".

Christopher Taylor said...

Comedy is harder than drama, anyone who can do both is pretty accomplished as an actor.

wall art said...

A true legend and a great loss, it's such a shame...Airplane never fails to make me laugh.