And don’t call me Shirley.
We lost another great one this week folks. Actor Leslie Nielsen left the stage at the age of 84. Most people remember him for his deadpan delivery of lines like “I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.”, or “Cheer up, Ed. This is not goodbye. It’s just I won’t ever see you again.” I’m sure that I’m not the only one who mutters one of his lines on a fairly regular basis. As much as I love Airplane and Naked Gun, they only represent a small part of his career. IMDB credits Leslie Nielsen with having acted on 239 titles dating back to 1950.
Nielsen’s list of TV credits is practically a checklist of some of the greatest shows ever made. Rawhide, Route 66, The Fugitive, The Defenders, The Wild Wild West, Dr. Kildare, Bonanza, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Gunsmoke and even M*A*S*H are on that list!
One of my personal favorite Leslie Nielsen movies is not a comedy at all, it’s the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet from 1956. Nielsen plays Commander J.J. Adams who is sent to investigate an interstellar colony that earth has lost contact with. I can remember watching this film when I was somewhere around 8 or 9 years old. Even though it was competing in my childhood mind with Star Wars, it managed to earn a permanent spot in my memory. Forbidden Planet is true science fiction, very heady for it’s time. Gene Roddenberry notes it as one of his inspirations for Star Trek.
So long Mr. Nielsen. I’ve only just started to share your genius with my son, and if I only scratch the surface of it, he’ll be a funnier, if not better man for it.
I’ve read several articles and posts about Mr. Nielsen in the past few days, here’s a few I wanted to share with you.