Leslie Neilson, the comedy cult hero and star of the classic ‘Naked Gun’ movies and ‘Airplane!’, has died, aged 84, at a hospital close to his Fort Lauderdale home. His death, yesterday, was peaceful, in his sleep. It came as the result of complications following pneumonia.
Neilson’s agent paid tribute to the man whose long and illustrious movie and TV acting career spanned more than 60 years. He was even funny in real life, according to his nephew, who called him a ‘naturally funny guy in day-to-day life’. He worked right up to this year and portrayed over 220 characters in more than 100 movies and 1500 TV programs. That’s quite some CV!
Lesley Neilson, who was Canadian-born, actually started his career in ‘serious’ acting, not the truly inspired comic bumbling which made him a household name around the world. He appeared in movie classics such as ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ and science fiction epic, ‘Forbidden Planet’ and has his own star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Leslie wasn’t also just busy on screen. He was married four times and is survived by his widow, Barbaree Earl, and his two daughters from wife number 2, Alisande Ullman.
Stars from both sides of the Atlantic have paid tribute to Neilson’s comic genius. Brit comedy actor Russell Brand tweeted: “RIP Leslie Nielsen. Shirley, he will be missed.”
Brand reminded us of a classic one-liner from ‘Airplane!’ there, but what is your favorite Lesley Neilson moment?