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Nielsen surely a lock as a comedic legend

Canadian comic actor Leslie Nielsen, star of a string of madcap spoof movies including “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun,” died of complications from pneumonia in Florida on Sunday.

Canadian comic actor Leslie Nielsen, star of a string of madcap spoof movies including “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun,” died of complications from pneumonia in Florida on Sunday. He was 84.

Nielsen is probably best-known for playing the bumbling cop, Lieutenant Frank Drebin, in the Naked Gun franchise, but enjoyed a movie and television career spanning more than 60 years.

Born on Feb. 11, 1926, in Regina, Saskatchewan, son of a Canadian mounted policeman, Nielsen spent the first 30 years of his career working steadily on serious TV shows such as “Peyton Place” and built a reputation for playing authority figures such as the captain of the ill-fated cruise ship in the 1972 feature “The Poseidon Adventure.”

Later generations got to know the silver-haired actor for his deadpan performances in comedies such as 1980’s “Airplane!” followed by the Naked Gun trilogy.

Beginning with Dr. Rumack in “Airplane!”, Nielsen delivered inane non sequiturs with a straight face. “Can you fly this plane, and land it?” he asks a passenger. “Surely, you can’t be serious,” the passenger exclaims. “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley,” Rumack replies.

 
 
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