Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen.jpg
Nielsen in 1982
Leslie William Nielsen

(1926-02-11)11 February 1926
Died28 November 2010(2010-11-28) (aged 84)
Resting placeEvergreen Cemetery, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
Alma materNeighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre
OccupationActor, comedian, producer
Years active1950–2010
Notable work
  • Monica Boyar
    (m. 1950; div. 1956)
  • Alisande Ullman
    (m. 1958; div. 1973)
  • Brooks Oliver
    (m. 1981; div. 1983)
  • Barbaree Earl (m. 2001)
Leslie Nielsen Signature.svg

Leslie William Nielsen OC (11 February 1926 – 28 November 2010) was a Canadian actor, comedian, and producer.[1][2] He appeared in more than 100 films and 150 television programs, portraying more than 220 characters.[3]

Nielsen was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and later worked as a disc jockey before receiving a scholarship to study theatre at the Neighborhood Playhouse. Making his acting debut in 1950, appearing in 46 live television programs a year. Nielsen made his film debut in 1956, with supporting roles in several drama, Western, and romance films produced between the 1950s and the 1970s.

Although his notable performances in the films Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure gave him standing as a serious actor, Nielsen later gained enduring recognition for his deadpan comedy roles during the 1980s, after being cast against type for the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker comedy film Airplane!.[4] In his comedy roles, Nielsen specialized in portraying characters oblivious to and complicit in their absurd surroundings.[5] Nielsen's performance in Airplane! marked his turning point, which made him "the Olivier of spoofs" according to film critic Roger Ebert,[6] and leading to further success in the genre with The Naked Gun film series, based on the earlier short-lived television series Police Squad!, in which Nielsen also starred. Nielsen received a variety of awards and was inducted into the Canada's Walk of Fame and Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Early life

Nielsen was born on 11 February 1926 in Regina, Saskatchewan.[7] His mother, Mabel Elizabeth (née Davies), was an immigrant from Wales, and his father, Ingvard Eversen Nielsen, was a Danish-born constable in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.[8][9][10] Nielsen had two brothers; the elder, Erik Nielsen (1924–2008), was a long-time Canadian Member of Parliament, cabinet minister, and Deputy Prime Minister of Canada from 1984 to 1986.[11]

Nielsen's half-uncle Jean Hersholt (pictured here in the 1936 film His Brother's Wife) inspired him to become an actor.

Nielsen's half-uncle Jean Hersholt was an actor known for his portrayal of Dr. Christian in a radio series of that name, and the subsequent television series and films.[12][13] In a 1994 Boston Globe article, Nielsen explained, "I did learn very early that when I would mention my uncle, people would look at me as if I were the biggest liar in the world. Then I would take them home and show them 8-by-10 glossies, and things changed quite drastically. So I began to think that maybe this acting business was not a bad idea, much as I was very shy about it and certainly without courage regarding it. My uncle died not too long after I was in a position to know him. I regret that I had not a chance to know him better."[12]

Nielsen lived for several years in Fort Norman (now Tulita) in the Northwest Territories, where his father was with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.[12][14] His father was an abusive man who beat his wife and sons, and Leslie longed to escape. When he graduated from high school at 17, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, though he was legally deaf (he wore hearing aids most of his life).[15][16] Following graduation from Victoria School of the Arts in Edmonton, Nielsen enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and trained as an aerial gunner during World War II. He was too young to be fully trained or sent overseas.[17] He worked briefly as a disc jockey at a Calgary, Alberta, radio station, before enrolling at the Lorne Greene Academy of Radio Arts in Toronto.[12][18] While studying in Toronto, Nielsen received a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse. He noted, "I couldn't refuse, but I must say when you come from the land of the snow goose, the moose, and wool to New York, you're bringing every ton of hayseed and country bumpkin that you packed. As long as I didn't open my mouth, I felt a certain security. But I always thought I was going to be unmasked: 'OK, pack your stuff.' 'Well, what's the matter?' 'We've discovered you have no talent; we're shipping you back to Canada.'"[12] He moved to New York City for his scholarship,[7] studying theatre and music at the Neighborhood Playhouse, while performing in summer stock theatre.[19] Afterward, he attended the Actors Studio,[20] until his first television appearance in 1950 on an episode of Studio One, alongside Charlton Heston,[21] for which he was paid $75.[12]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Leslie Nielsen
العربية: ليسلي نيلسن
aragonés: Leslie Nielsen
asturianu: Leslie Nielsen
azərbaycanca: Lesli Nilsen
تۆرکجه: لسلی نیلسن
Bân-lâm-gú: Leslie Nielsen
беларуская: Леслі Нільсен
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Лэсьлі Нільсан
български: Лесли Нилсен
bosanski: Leslie Nielsen
čeština: Leslie Nielsen
Ελληνικά: Λέσλι Νίλσεν
español: Leslie Nielsen
Esperanto: Leslie Nielsen
français: Leslie Nielsen
Gàidhlig: Leslie Nielsen
한국어: 레슬리 닐슨
հայերեն: Լեսլի Նիլսեն
hrvatski: Leslie Nielsen
Bahasa Indonesia: Leslie Nielsen
italiano: Leslie Nielsen
latviešu: Leslijs Nīlsens
Lëtzebuergesch: Leslie Nielsen
lietuvių: Leslie Nielsen
македонски: Лесли Нилсен
მარგალური: ლესლი ნილსენი
Nederlands: Leslie Nielsen
Plattdüütsch: Leslie Nielsen
português: Leslie Nielsen
română: Leslie Nielsen
Simple English: Leslie Nielsen
slovenčina: Leslie Nielsen
slovenščina: Leslie Nielsen
ślůnski: Leslie Nielsen
српски / srpski: Лесли Нилсен
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Leslie Nielsen
Türkçe: Leslie Nielsen
українська: Леслі Нільсен
Volapük: Leslie Nielsen