eslie Nielsen, the Canadian actor best known for his comedic turns in Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, has died. He was 84.
Mr. Nielsen died Sunday at a hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after a bout with pneumonia, according to his agent John S. Kelly.
He was surrounded by friends and his wife, Barbaree, when he died, nephew Doug Nielsen of Richmond, B.C., told a Winnipeg radio station Sunday.
Born in Regina, Mr. Neilsen spent part of his childhood in the Northwest Territories where his father was stationed as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
He began his adult acting career in New York, where he performed in 150 live television dramas before moving to Hollywood in the mid-1950s.
Although he starred in more than 100 films, Mr. Neilsen made his name as funny man. The 1980 film Airplane! was a breakout hit for the actor, who played a doctor aboard a flight beset by food poisoning.
His deadpan response to the query, “Surely you can’t be serious?” became an oft-quoted classic. “I am serious,” he replied. “And don’t call me Shirley.”
Mr. Neilsen’s portrayal of the bumbling Lieutenant Frank Drebin in the pratfall-filled Naked Gun and its sequels also helped seal the actor’s reputation as a comedic genius.
In recent years, he starred in distinctly Canadian productions including the 2002 film Men with Brooms, co-starring Paul Gross and the Canadian TV series Robson Arms.
Mr. Neilsen has stars on both Hollywood’s and Canada’s Walk of Fame.
He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002.