Monday, November 29, 2010
Leslie Nielsen died yesterday at the age of 84.
Apparently, he was a dramatic actor before he switched to comedy, which is of course how most of us at ATK remember him. The Naked Gun movies were silly, but not as hilarious as Airplane.
He grew up 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle at Fort Norman, where his father was an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.Canada produces some of my favorite comedians. Go fig.
The parents had three sons, and Nielsen once recalled, "There were 15 people in the village, including five of us. If my father arrested somebody in the winter, he'd have to wait until the thaw to turn him in."
The elder Nielsen was a troubled man who beat his wife and sons, and Leslie longed to escape. As soon as he graduated from high school at 17, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, even though he was legally deaf (he wore hearing aids most of his life.)
After the war, Nielsen worked as a disc jockey at a Calgary radio station, then studied at a Toronto radio school operated by Lorne Greene, who would go on to star on the hit TV series Bonanza. A scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse brought him to New York, where he immersed himself in live television.
Anyway, I'll raise a pint to Leslie Nielsen this evening. And I'll listen to this while I do!