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OEsheepdog
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Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 29, 2010 8:17AM

Remembering Leslie Nielsen

Rate: 26 Flag

Poilce Squad  

Actor Leslie Nielsen, 84, passed away yesterday, apparently due to pneumonia various news outlet reported.

While he may have been known more for his comedy roles in Airplane!and the Naked Gun movies, Nielsen had a fairly successful career as a serious actor from the 1950s until his success in comedy in Airplane!

He even had a stint as the TV spokesperson for Shell Oil in the 1970s, and had asked for $30,000 just to audition.

My funniest memories of Nielsen were in the short lived series Police Squad! which was cancelled after airing just four if its six episodes in 1982 on the ABC network.

The premise for the show was a spoof of most 1950s and 60s cop TV shows. Most of the format from the show was like many of the QM Productions shows, such as The Fugitive, The FBI and Barnaby Jones.

 Each episode began with the same announcer, Hank Simms voice over the show's title graphic, "Police Squad, in Color," a throwback to the mid 60s TV lineups that had shows that were produced in Black and White as well as in Color.

A police car's "bubble gum machine" of rotating rad light was shot from roof of the car as it is seen speeding through traffic.

Simms would announce "Tonight's Special Guest Star" who would then be killed in the first scene.

Then Simms would announce "Tonight's episode: A Bird in Hand" while a title graphic would flash a completely different title "The Butler Did It."

After the first break, a graphic "Act one" would appear like all of the Quinn Martin shows of the 60s and 70s. The show required a great deal of concentration as to not miss the many sight gags and non-sequiturs that uttered completely straight. One such memory was a conversation that  takes place in the Police squad room. In the background is a map that appears from a long shot as a map of the city.

As the dialogue ends the camera then zooms on the map which is in fact a military map of World War II Europe complete with the positions marked of the Allied and Nazi armies.

All the actors play the role straight, which made the show even more hilarious. Probably because Nielsen had played the straight roles on so many 60s and 70s TV show. He was a murder victim on Columbo and the boyfriend, of a murder suspect on another Columbo episode.While this lead to the feature length Naked Gun  movies where Nielsen continued the role of Frank Drebbin, the TV show was much funnier in my opinion.

Like the time where Drebbin is told by the sexy showgirl to come see her at her place. Drebbin narrates, "Two weeks later I go and knock on Suzy Showgirl's door. It took me two weeks because I forgot to ask her for address."

Or the time Nielsen shows his credentials to a witness who says, "REFJFSLDF, RJFJGSJSJFKS?

Drebbin turns the credentials right side up and the wintess says, "Detective Lieutentant Sargent Frank Drebbin?"

There must have been 300 jokes in each half hour episode of the show.

Rest in Peace Mr. Nielsen, thanks for the laughs and the memories.

 

 

 

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OEsheepdog, a wonderful remembrance that you have here! I was saddened when I saw the news and he will be missed by millions and millions of fans. I never saw Police Squad! but maybe there are parts of it to be found on YouTube or elsewhere online.
Do you like gladiator movies, Billy? RRRRR for a great remembrance.
The series is available on DVD and I just bought it....thanks for the tip
A comedian friend of mine once said that Leslie Nielson is one great actor he is the only white guy who could actually look stupider than O. J. Simpson in a movie. He was a tremendous man. I myself like his older movies best, he was quite an accomplished actor. My condolences to his Family and friends. Very nice OE.......o/e R*******
He was a great funny man. I did not appreciate some of his stuff but he was brilliant.
Rated with hugs
Sheep, he was one of my favorites. He career spanned a gernation and he could do serious roles as well as comedy ones. One of my favorite secens in the Police Squad series was when the would be in the office talking and a guy on fire would run by behind them. Not a word was said, classic Police Squad!
I was a HUGE fan of Police Squad when it first aired. As I watched the first episode, which was done right after the Airplane movie success, I knew it would get canceled because it is a humor style that requires people to pay close attention to what is going on, and I knew the average viewer wasn't going to put in that effort, especially as the Nielsen families were known to be like during that time.

At least he had a good, full life. 84 is pretty impressive.
He was a funny, funny man. His brother Erik was unintentionally so as Canada's deputy prime minister from 1984-86.
He had this deadpan way of approaching comedy, and his looks were so against type. One of a kind, indeed.
May he rest in peace. I liked him very much.
~R
John -- Watching Police Squad! is a real treat. Remember to pay close attention. Peter Lupus, who played Willy ( the strongman) played Nordberg who was portrayed by OJ simpson in the Naked Gun movies.

BS -- Stewardess after being informed that a patient need to get to a hospital: "What is it? A hospital?"

Nielsen : "It's building filled with sick people and doctors but that isn't important right now."

LSD -- Thanks for the heads up.

kateasely -- shirley you jest?

o/e -- You should have seen Peter Lupus's portrayal of Nordberg on Police Squad. Funnier than Simpson.

Linda -- Thanks for the comment.

Scanner -- I remember that scene.

Tom -- Your are correct.

Duane -- It had me in stitches.

BR -- Didn't know about Erik.

JW -- You're welcome

Lea -- You can't watch the straight roles he played before Airplane! with out laughing.

FusunA -- he was one of a kind.
Nice tribute. I've heard comedy is the most difficult kind of acting. He was a pro. I remember he and Priscilla Presley getting something out of the refrigerator and going further and further inside. Subtle visuals. Loved his dead pan expressions.
OED, they called him "Yukon" Erik. That's where he held a parliamentary seat, but you have to be of a certain age to remember the wrestler of the same name -- and the implication.
that is affirmative shirley sheepdog :)
Leslie Nielsen will always have a special place in my heart.
Why?
Because my golfing buddy, Bob and he were/are exact doubles, including the sense of humor.

I'll miss Les and hope that I don't have to miss Bob other than with an errant golfball.
He was great.

I try not to speak ill of the dead, so I kept my mouth shut when a few people went this year. But this life, I can really celebrate. He made me smile many times.
His best was definitely "Airplane." Just an opinion.
You've got me laughing to myself instead of looking at dull documents at my desk (thank you. sincerely.) Nielsen's creation of Frank Drebbin was so spot-on that I can't imagine anyone else in the role. Perfect for the Airplane/Police Squad/Naked Gun style. You're right about the background gags. Some of them put me on the floor.
This is great, OE. I'm chuckling from just thinking about Leslie Nielsen. He was that funny. It was the deadpan delivery that got to me.
He also had a repeating guest bit on "Due South", and played Francis Marion in Disney's miniseries "The Swamp Fox."
The baseball scenes in Naked Gun are still some of the funniest moments ever captured on film. He will be missed.
I saw some Police Squad clips on line today. Funny stuff.
I even remember him in Swamp Fox, a Disney chronicle, in '59 or '60. I'll miss him. I liked Airplane, Naked Gun and Police Squad. He seemed likeable and nobody seem to say anything bad about him. There are two things you never do in Hollywood and one is piss off directors (Bette Midler said she did this and didn't work for ten years) and the other was to piss off the union guys. Those two groups must have like him as well.
I love this post. He was such a funny man.
rated with love
How wonderful it must have been for him to find his dramatic career getting less and less exciting--and then having a whole new generation (or three) find him funny and appealing. He could carry off those straight lines (that were really funny) in Airplane. Remember, "Have you ever seen a grown man naked, Bobby?"
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zanelle -- Presley's legs got longer and longer as I remember.

BR -- Enough said.

Don --Thanks

XJS -- Leslie Nielsen doppelganger? How cool.

Dave -- Yeah he seemed to be well liked by everyone.

John -- I think Airplane! was the best because of the assembled ensemble.

Stim -- The stuff was both subtle and over the top at the same time.

XE -- I think the character all had its roots go back to Gracie Allen.

Bonnie -- No Problem

Sgt Mom -- He played some pretty cool straight roles.

Nick -- I liked the "disaster" theme bar, with Titanic, Hindenberg and Michael Dukakis.

Con -- This stuff is up your alley.

David -- Canadians tend not to piss off anyone.

RomanticPoetess -- Thanks

nola -- I just wish some of the materials lived up to his talents.