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Leslie Nielsen, Thanks for the Laughs

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When a genuine comedian passes away, for one reason or another, it seems like the world weeps a little more than usual. Making people laugh is one hell of a job, but the great Leslie Nielsen was always on point. His deadpan delivery, oblivious characters, and masterfully sophomoric punch-lines led him to be a genius in the parody genre.  At the age of 84, Nielsen has passed away, leaving behind a body of work in television and film that will continue to entertain with ease. Nielsen was a class act, and there are many out there that will whip out their copies of Airplane!, Naked Gun, and so forth, to toast him goodbye.

Fred M. Wilcox

Nielsen started out as a dramatic television actor in the 1950s, breaking into film with the 1956 musical film entitled The Vagabond King. That same year, the young and sharply handsome Nielsen landed the role of Commander John J. Adams, in the science fiction flick inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, entitled Forbidden Planet. He continued making television appearances in such shows as, The Wild Wild West, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Virginian, and The New Breed.

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After exercising his dramatic talents, Nielsen stepped into the comedic scene with his supporting role in the 1980’s Airplane! Later, Nielsen introduced the world to Frank Drebin, the perfect parody of a traditional police officer, in a television series called Police Squad! Frank Drebin proved to be a hit, as the character broke off with three feature films: the Naked Gun trilogy. Nielsen continued with the comedy genre, starring in such films as Spy Hard, Wrongfully Accused, and Scary Movie 3.

When genuine comedians pass away, we are taken back to the times they made us laugh the most. Perhaps you were having a day based on Murphy’s Law (“whatever can go wrong will go wrong”) and one of Nielsen’s characters made the day a little easier to digest. Maybe there was an uneventful night where Frank Drebin saved you from boredom. There possibly could’ve been a time where you wanted a break from the drudgery of life, and one of Nielsen’s lovable characters helped you crack a smile to get by. Whatever it was that led you to appreciate Nielsen’s comedic talents, I’d like to speak on behalf of all of his fans and say “thank you.”

“You get up there, and you are a comedian, and you’re doing one thing. That is, you’re going to make the audience laugh”—Leslie Nielsen.