Leslie Nielsen Dies

Leslie Nielsen, actor, died November 28 at the age of 84; he’d been hospitalised with pneumonia. Early appearances included the sf anthology series Tales of Tomorrow (1952-53). He played Commander J. J. Adams in Forbidden Planet (1956). His career took an unexpected shift into comedy with Airplane! (1980), with similar roles in Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), 2001: A Space Travesty (2000), Superhero Movie (2008) and Stan Helsing (2009).

Surely I will always remember him as The Swamp Fox, the American Revolutionary War leader he played in several episodes of ABC’s Disneyland series (but I know, don’t call him Shirley…) When Walt Disney’s TV show moved to NBC the season after I told my father, who worked at NBC’s Burbank studio as a video engineer, he should ask them to make another Swamp Fox story. I was an 8-year-old history buff at the time and convinced this good idea would be practically self-evident. General Sarnoff and Walt must have felt otherwise.

[Thanks to David Klaus, Steve Green and Andrew Porter for the story.]

3 thoughts on “Leslie Nielsen Dies

  1. Many writers are paying tribute to Nielsen today and trying to work a little humor into what they say about the comic actor. The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri had a great line: “Leslie Nielsen was an American treasure. Like most American treasures, he was Canadian….”

  2. I was lucky enough to meet Nielsen and his fart machine many times, including when I interviewed him for GEnie in an era when hardly anyone, including Nielsen’s publicist, had a computer. I was reduced to sitting in the back of the publicist’s closet, my computer on my lap, while Nielsen cheerfully answered questions posed by those on GEnie, and I very rapidly typed his responses. Apparently the Zucker brothers and Jim Abraham were delighted with how well Nielsen took to their type of straight-faced comedy; Nielsen told me one of the Zuckers offered him the most important praise of his life: “Nielsen, you swing with a cracked bat.”

  3. The first thing I remember seeing him in was also “The Swamp Fox”. Imagine how different his career would have been if Swamp Fox had been as popular as Zorro was!

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