During the early stages of his career Nielsen took on serious roles. The most notable of these (that we can get footage for) is arguably as spaceship commander John J. Adams in the 1956 Shakespeare-inspired sci-fi romp Forbidden Planet, which--as you'll see in this trailer--he still managed to add a comedic touch to.
The straight-faced characters he played up until the 80s were a great contrast to the comedic roles you probably know and love now. Not only does this clip of Project: Kill (from 1976) show what a great range of talent Nielsen has, but it also makes his later-shown humour all the more amusing.
It wasn't until the 1980 movie Airplane!, where he played Doctor "don't call me Shirley" Rumack, that he became widely known for his witty flair and comic timing. It's also where he uttered some brilliant one-liners. Is your favourite in this clip?
Now, a lot of you are going to expect us to move on to Police Squad, but we're going to take a detour past the often forgotten Creepshow, because we love this clip.
OK, here comes Police Squad… the show may have only lasted six episodes (in 1982), but it was still packed full of laughs. The role of Detective Frank Drebin was written for Nielsen and he played it perfectly!
Nielsen played Drebin so well, in fact, that the show’s popularity warranted the Naked Gun movie spin-offs and the classic "nice beaver" line (among so many others).
What's your favourite Leslie Nielsen line? How will you remember him?