On November 28th, the world lost a comic luminary, legendary funny man Leslie Nielsen. He died of complications of pneumonia in a hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale. He was 84. But in those 84 years, he managed to have one of the most long term and enduring careers in cinema history.
Nielsen started his career off in a number of films including the “Forbidden Planet” (1956) and the original “Poseidon Adventure” (1972). However, it wasn’t until 1980’s “Airplane!” that Nielsen became a star. It was this movie that, seemingly overnight, changed the public’s perception of the dramatic actor to that of comedian. However, it was the Naked Gun Series as Detective Frank Drebin that thrust Nielsen into the stratosphere and that he is perhaps best known for.
The Naked Gun Series began with 1988’s “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” It was followed by two sequels, “The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear” (1991) and “Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult” (1994). The three films chronicle the adventures of the bumbling police Lieutenant Frank Drebin. The first film was an immediate commercial and critical success and has proved to be an instant classic. While not as critically as well received, the sequels both proved to be commercial successes and popular with audiences. All three movies debuted at the number 1 spot.
Here is a very popular clip and one sure to tickle your funny bone, from the first “Naked Gun” movie:
As a kid who grew up in the ’80s when this first came out and now as an adult watching this clip, it STILL cracks me up…just like the first time! And that is part of Leslie Nielsen’s charm, he created something that was timeless. It goes to prove the old adage that while he may be gone, he will not be forgotten. His humor will live on and continue to do so always in his movies. And, Shirley, I’m serious…