Late yesterday, the comedy world got the sad news that veteran comedian Leslie Nielsen had passed away in a Florida hospital due to complications from pneumonia. He was 84.
The actor began his career as a serious dramatic actor, in movies like Forbidden Planet, the spy film Night Train To Paris, the original Ransom!, and of course, the first big-name disaster picture, 1972's The Poseidon Adventure. He was something like the Bradley Cooper of the '50s and '60s. A sturdy straight man.
He also had a healthy sideline with television appearances on MASH, The Virginian, and even Kung Fu with David Carradine.
It was his role in Airplane! that took everyone by storm, with his deadpan delivery, seemingly taken from his decades as a pro hard-ass. He made lines that shouldn't have been that funny, piss your pants funny.
(Nielsen farts on UK television.)
From then on he would be a fixture in the comedy world, mostly working in parodies from the Zuckers and Jim Abrahams--and the cop show Police Squad!, which made the world safe for buddy-cop pictures like The Other Guys today.
A whole new generation would know him as the elder, kindly white-haired man always quick with a dry quip and those big eyes. The Naked Gun films, all three of them, were classics of slapstick and one-liners. Even the middle-misfit one has its moments. The late '90s brought Spy Hard and Wrongfully Accused, which still reap rewards if you're in the right mood.
Almost immediately social media came forward to celebrate the man, with everyone from Patton Oswalt and a host of comedians paying homage, singer Rob Thomas, and even candy-rapper Nicki Minaj saluting the man and his career.
The following clips always manage to make us bust a gut.
4. "I'm a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith."
3. "Cigarette? Yes, I know..."
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2. "Nice Beaver."
1. "Don't call me Shirley."