A national hero died November 28th. The indefatigable white-haired epitome of manhood, Leslie Neilsen, succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 84 in his Florida home. On a personal note, he’s probably my favorite Canadian actor of all time (I can’t think of any others off the top of my head).
Neilsen’s most notorious role was as the bumbling oblivious cop, Frank Drebin, in the Naked Gun film series. Naked Gun is the first film that made me laugh so hard I cried, and made my abs feel like I just got kicked in the gut by Jackie Chan.
Neilsen executed the deadpan delivery perfectly in his comedic roles. Here are just a few quotable gems from the Naked Gun series:
Frank Drebin: Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes.
Frank Drebin: Looks like the cows have come home to roost.
Frank Drebin: Oh, it’s all right. I’m sure that we can handle this situation maturely, just like the responsible adults that we are. Isn’t that right, Mr. … Poopy Pants?
Frank Drebin: Jane, since I’ve met you, I’ve noticed things that I never knew were there before… birds singing, dew glistening on a newly formed leaf, stoplights.
And don’t forget Dr. Rumack in the cult spoof “Airplane”, the role that started it all for Neilsen.
Rumack: You’d better tell the captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.
Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ted Striker: Surely you can’t be serious.
Rumack: I am serious … and don’t call me Shirley.
Who in Hollywood will pick up the mantle Neilsen left of the oblivious buffoon placed in incredulous circumstances? I don’t know. But thank you Leslie Neilsen for holding that mantle for a time.
A crying ab workout has never been so funny before or since.