Words cannot really express what Leslie Nielsen meant to my childhood, the hours watching the Naked Gun movies (and, eventually, Airplane!, and even some of the lesser but still amusing movies like Spy Hard and Wrongfully Accused). It's one of those comedy movie memories I have like with Mel Brooks that is one of the ones attached with my father. On a personal note, these were some of the movies that I could watch with him, repeatedly, and quote and reminisce about. When a movie can bring people together like that, it's an amazing thing, especially when it's with someone who isn't as nuts into movies as I am. So, that's something that will be missed but remembered fondly.
But hey, Nielsen wasn't just a comedy guy. It's ironic that my generation will remember the too-often quoted "Don't call me Shirley" bit from Airplane - or, again, his many many many MANY hilarious bits from the Naked Gun series (seriously, ALL of the are brilliant) - as he started out and was for many years a serious actor. So serious that one almost can't believe he was so straight-forward fantastic in movies like Forbidden Planet, Creepshow, Day of the Animals, Prom Night (yes, the original), and the Poseidon Adventure. In many ways, across the spectrum of genres and good and bad taste, he was a treasure.
But hey again, enough of this, why not let his career speak for itself:
(can you tell I like me some Naked Gun?)
He can hold his breath for a long time...