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Goodbye, Shirley

Guest Dabeagle

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I had the honor of working on Police Squad for the home video release, and it was a pleasure to do those shows. We were quoting lines from the series for years afterwards.

Brian Williams of NBC News did a superb obituary and tribute to Leslie Nielsen tonight on the news, and both the clips and Brian's comments had me in stitches. At one point, he said, "Nielsen was a fine actor and a very talented straight man, but that's not important right now" (referring to a line from the movie). And he also cited some clips, and then said, "and what could we make of that? Well, we could make a hat, or a broach, or a pterodactyl."

Just had me on the floor that even the news used famous lines from Nielsen's most famous movie, Airplane.

The guy was really old and frail, though. We worked on one of his last major films, Scary Movie 4, and wasn't doing well then (four years ago). But Nielsen was one of the few actors lucky enough to have two careers: one as a "straight" dramatic leading man for 20 years, and then a surprising resurge as a comedic actor starting in 1980.

They said that the hardest thing on the Airplane and Police Squad movies was that nobody on camera could ever crack a smile, because that was all part of the joke -- that everybody was taking the dialog deathly serious. I bet they've got the greatest outtakes around, with everybody busting up and falling down laughing...

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