Leslie Nielsen dies at 84.
Leslie Nielsen, the Canadian Actor Roger Ebert dubbed the Olivier of Spoofs passed away in his sleep yesterday due to complications with pneumonia at a Ft. Lauderdale hospital.
Nielsen best known for his comedic film roles got his start in television, playing many roles on various episodic series throughout the tube’s golden age, including appearances in Alfred Hitchcock presents, The Virginian and Bonanza.
He had a starring role in the 1961 ABC crime drama, The New Breed and again in the role that rose him to stardom, Lt. Frank Drebin in the comedy Police Squad!, which while it didn’t make it as a series, spawned the Naked Gun film trilogy. Here’s a clip from Police Squad!
Nielsen also provided narration for the odd Canadian children’s series Katie and Orbie.
I never got the chance to experience Nielsen as a TV actor, but as a child in the 90’s, I treasured the Naked Gun series, Spy Hard, Dracula Dead and Loving It and really anything Nielsen laid his hilarious hands on, but it’s this season that I think of All I Want for Christmas. It’s a little known holiday movie starring Thora Birch and Ethan Embry as children, Harley Jane Kozak and Jamey Sheridan as their parents, Lauren Bacall as Grandma and Nielsen as Santa Claus. It was a very small role, two or three scenes at most, but Nielsen filled every moment with immense heart and truly created a Santa Claus to believe in.