Leslie Nielsen, whose career spanned from dramatic roles to Disney television and later in life comedies, such as “Airplane,” died Sunday (Nov. 28) from complications related to pneumonia. He was 84.
Nielson was admitted to a hospital near his Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., home and his wife Barbaree and friends were with him when he died, agent, John S. Kelly, said in a statement.
Nielsen had two daughters and was married three times, according to the Associated Press.
He was born Feb. 11, 1926, in Regina, Saskatchewan. His father was a Royal Canadian mounted police officer; his brother a deputy prime minister of Canada.
After serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he moved to New York where he worked in television.
Nielson landed in Hollywood in the 1950s, where his rugged, leading-man good looks led to several roles.
One of his more memorable was as the spaceship commander in the sci-fi classic “Forbidden Planet. ”
The 1956 film was about a mad scientist who learned the secret powers of the mind from an ancient, advanced civilization.
But in the end, he could not control them, casting Nielson and his crew in peril.
It was the movie that introduced “Robbie the Robot” who went on to have a career of his own in the TV series “Lost in Space.”
“It’s the reason I was never asked to do ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Twilight Zone’ for TV,” Nielson told the Toronto Star in 2002. “I carried too much baggage with me from that movie.”
He was, however, tapped to play the ill-fated captain on the doomed ocean liner in the 1972 disaster movie “The Poseidon Adventure,” another classic for its genre.
On television, his most memorable role was as the Revolutionary War fighter Francis Marion in a Disney TV adventure series. Marion was known as “The Swamp Fox” for his daring raids on the British.
But contemporary audiences will likely know him best for his roles in 1980s “Airplane!” and the “Naked Gun” series.
Nielsen next big screen comedy was “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!,” with George Kennedy, O.J. Simpson and Priscilla Presley.