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: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.
Despite starring in more than 100 films, it’s for the characters he played in “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun” that Leslie Nielsen, who died yesterday, will be best-remembered.
Born in Canada to Danish and Welsh immigrants, it may seem hard to believe but, at the start of his career, Nielsen was considered a “romantic lead”, good looking, suave and very straight-laced.
Although he had roles in dozens of TV shows during the 50s, he never quite broke through; just being one more handsome leading man without anything discernible to make him stand out from the crowd.
In 1956, his first movie break came with a starring role in “Forbidden Planet”, the sci-fi classic loosely-based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Playing Commander John Adams, this was Nielsen’s first opportunity to shine and he took it, leading to a string of roles under contract to MGM.
He kept busy, not really setting the world alight but making a good living, until he made the film that was to define him: the 1980 comedy “Airplane”. The film lead to him reprising the character (in manner if not name or profession) in the TV show “Police Squad” which lead ultimately to the “Naked Gun” series of films.
The final decade of his life saw him appear in a series of parody films that are best forgotten (though I do have a soft spot for “Spy Hard”), and ease into his role as an elder statesman of Hollywood making cameo appearances in films such as “Scary Movie 3 and 4″.
Married four times, he is survived by his wife and two daughters from his second marriage. And, of course, he leaves behind every right-thinking person’s involuntary response when asked: “surely you can’t be serious.”