Goodbye Lieutenant Frank Drebin: Five Leslie Nielsen Moments to Remember

Spoof movies have become a staple of our film diet. And a lot of that has to do with Leslie Nielsen, who passed away in his sleep on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale. He was 84. Nobody played a goofball straight man better than Nielsen. Roger Ebert called him the "Olivier of spoofs."  The Canadian, yes Canadian, actor who starred in over 100 movies since 1956, started out as a serious actor. But he really hit the big time as the zany Lieutenant Frank Drebin from the Naked Gun movies.

We thought we'd put together a little tribute to Nielsen. But we didn't want to be fake about it. So you'll see some funny moments but also some spoof bombs, and some things we're not exactly sure what to make of. RIP Leslie.  

5. Airplane! (1980)
Maybe the most famous scene in any spoof movie ever. The name Shirley and the word "surely" would never be the same after Nielsen deadpanned his way past this scene with Robert Hayes.

4. Naked Gun  (1988)
We don't care that it wasn't even Leslie who was doing the moonwalk and dancing after strike calls. Just imagining him doing it is enough to make this the funniest baseball scene in cinematic history. (And yeah, we know this is the second time we include this video in a post today--it's that good!)

3. Repossessed (1990)
One of those rare spoofs that actually casts the star of the original movie with Linda Blair reprising her role from the Exorcist. Nielsen played the priest trying to save her soul. Besides some funny cameos (including one from the former governor of Minnesota) nothing could save the soul of this stinker.

2. Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
Any thoughts that Mel Brooks was beyond reproach as a filmmaker died with this mid-1990s bomb. Still, Nielsen and Brooks put together some funny moments when spoofing Bram Stoker's Dracula. Even though the movie fell flat we still think Nielsen out acted Keanu Reeves in the serious movie.

1. Monday Night Football (2004)
This was the weirdest thing that ever happened to Monday Night Football that isn't named Dennis Miller. In a strange way it actually summarizes Nielsen's zany career in a nutshell. There's slapstick, props and some funny lines.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.