Leslie Nielsen, R.I.P.


Earlier tonight, I read on twitter that veteran character actor and Prom Night co-star Leslie Nielsen had passed away.  While people seem to know him best as a former “serious” actor turned deadpan comedian, it is forgotten that Nielsen was — during the 70s — an exploitation and grindhouse mainstay.

Along with playing Jamie Lee Curtis’s father (and no-nonsense high school principal) in Prom Night, Nielsen was also the star of the kung fu classic Project: Kill and the bad guy in Day of the Animals.

The clip below comes from Day of the Animals and it shows Nielsen at his exploitation best:

Here’s a little bit of the movie history trivia that I live for: In 1959, along with famously auditioning for a role in Ben-Hur, Nielsen also came close to being cast in another iconic film.  He was among the finalists for the role of Sam Loomis (eventually played by John Gavin) in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

6 responses to “Leslie Nielsen, R.I.P.

  1. Despite his past history as a serious actor and one in grindhouse flicks most people really will remember him from the Airplane and Naked Gun spoofs. Either way, he sure has had quite a colorful career as an actor.

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  2. I am sad to read this. I always liked this guy. As Arleigh said, he had an eclectic career. I will remember him most and best for the deadpan roles in those films, as well as the “Police Squad” series. While considering his famous roles and legacy, don’t forget the science fiction classic “Forbidden Planet”, all the way back in 956. He really was a versatile actor.

    Goodbye, old friend.

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    • I think, during the final phase of his career, Leslie Nielsen was like everyone’s ideal, eccentric, fun-loving fantasy grandfather. Which is one reason it’s jarring to see him in films like Day of the Animals or even a so-called “mainstream” film like The Posiedon Adventure.

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  3. That reference surprises me. I didn’t remember him from “The Poseidon Adventure”, but I saw that a long time ago. I wouldn’t have known who he was at that time. I do remember him in “Day Of The Animals”, although the only things I remember are the scenes in that clip above.

    I heard a radio interview at the time of the first “Naked Gun” release in which he said that he had played comedic roles early in his career, but for some reason, began to get cast as “heavies”. But he felt comfortable with the funny stuff, and was glad to have the opportunity to do it again.
    I think that worked out well for both him and movie fans.

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