Date of Birth: February 11, 1926
"I have no goals or ambition. I do, however, wish to work enough to maintain whatever celebrity status I have so that they will continue to invite me to golf tournaments."Leslie Nielsen
Canadian funnyman Leslie Nielsen hails from Regina, Saskatchewan, where he was born to an RCMP officer. He and his two brothers moved around with their parents until they were old enough to attend school. Settling in Edmonton, he attended school until graduating from high school. Nielsen then went on to become an aerial gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Starting his entertainment career in Calgary, Nielsen started working at a radio station as an engineer, disc jockey and announcer. He then made his way to Toronto to study acting at the Academy of Radio Arts. Earning a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, he crossed the border to continue his acting studies and perform in stage productions.
In 1950 he took his first plunge into television and spent the next few years in solid roles, achieving significant success in lowbrow comedy. Throughout the sixties and seventies Leslie was seen regularly in television action series such as Wagon Train, The Fugitive, The Virginian,Cannon, Kojak, S.W.A.T. and Vegas. Nielsen had built a sturdy reputation portraying manly authority figures including the Space Ship Commander in the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (1956) and the Captain of the ill-fated cruise ship in The Poseidon Adventure (1972), before he turned his image inside out with a hysterically funny deadpan performance as the loopy doctor in Airplane! (1980).
After the success of Airplane!, Nielsen stayed on with the directors, who created the television series, Police Squad!, where his best-known character, Lt. Frank Drebin originated. Impressing viewers and critics, he was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Lead in a Comedy Series. Although the show didn't last, three popular films called Naked Gun were released featuring the character over the late '80s and early '90s.
Although Nielsen kept up strong connections with television and screen, he occasionally returned to the stage, starring in Los Angeles opposite Carol Burnett in Love Letters in 1990. He also periodically toured with Darrow prior to taking the one-man show on a national tour of the United States from 1999 to 2000.
As a testimonial to his comedic abilities, Leslie was the eighteenth recipient of UCLA's Jack Benny Award in 1995. In 2003, he received the ACTRA Award of Excellence. Married four times, he had two children from his second marriage. Fourth wife Barbaree was by his side when he passed away November 28, 2010 at the age of 84 in Ft. Lauderdale due to complications from pneumonia.
Filmography:Brand Dead (2010)