He will be missed by us all – in­clud­ing Shirley

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News - By Don­ald Clarke

Farewell then, Leslie Nielsen. The great man died ear­lier this week at the age of 84. It was, surely, a most pe­cu­liar life. Born in far Saskatchewan, Leslie spent the first three decades of his ca­reer wear­ing a se­ri­ous face as he es­sayed var­i­ous author­ity fig­ures. He was the cap­tain of two im­por­tant cin­e­matic ves­sels: a space­craft in For­bid­den Planet and a ship in The Po­sei­don Ad­ven­ture. If he popped up on TV in Columbo or The Vir­ginian, he would, surely, be play­ing a se­ri­ous, re­spon­si­ble in­di­vid­ual with a straight face and a calm­ing word.

Of course, it was, surely, just this so­bri­ety that caused the di­rec­tors of Air­plane! to cast him as the disin­gen­u­ously un­per­turbed Dr Ru­mack. No ac­tor can, surely, have spun through such a sud­den hair­pin at so late a point in his ca­reer. For the rest of his life he was, surely, one of the most re­li­ably amus­ing comic ac­tors on the planet.

Some crit­ics claimed that his tech­nique sim­ply in­volved do­ing ex­actly what he did when play­ing straight roles. It was, surely, sim­ply the con­text that made him funny. Not so. It re­quired, surely, a great ap­pre­ci­a­tion of comic dy­nam­ics to de­liver his ab­surd punch­lines with such im­mac­u­late tim­ing.

He was, surely, one of the very great funny men. I’ll stop call­ing you “Shirley” now.

As­sured of im­mor­tal­ity: Leslie Nielsen in Naked Gun 33 1/3

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