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‘And Don’t Call Me Shirley’

Rest in Peace Mr. Nielsen.

Comedic actor Leslie Nielsen, best known as the star of such comedies as “Airplane” and the “Naked Gun” franchise, has died. The Canadian native was 84. His death was confirmed by his nephew Doug Nielsen, who told the Canadian radio station CJOB he passed away in a Ft. Lauderdale hospital on Sunday from complications of pneumonia.

Nielsen is perhaps best known for his role as the bumbling police officer Lt. Frank Drebin in the “Naked Gun” series, a part that came to Nielsen after 35 years as an actor and roughly 1,500 appearances in various films and television shows.

Nielsen made his film debut in 1956’s “The Vagabond King,” before graduating to lead roles in films such as “Forbidden Planet,” a sci-fi film co-starring Walter Pidgeon, and “Tammy and the Bachelor,” a romantic comedy with Debbie Reynolds. Though Nielsen continued to act in films and television, he never truly connected with audiences until the 1980 comedy “Airplane!” A parody of disaster films such as “Airport,” the film featured Nielsen as a doctor aboard a flight who now infamously says, “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”

Later, Nielsen found further fame for playing the loopy Frank Drebin, a character he originated in the television series “Police Squad!” and reprised in three feature films.

Nielsen’s last major work were the various “Scary Movie” sequels from “Airplane!” writer and Wisconsin native David Zucker.  Here’s my favorite scene from “Airplane!” which still stands the test of time some thirty years later.

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