Actor Leslie Nielsen died Sunday in hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from pneumonia. He was 84.
The Naked Gun and Airplane! star died “with his friends and his wife by his side, he just fell asleep and passed away,” according to his nephew.
Nielsen began his career as a serious actor playing authority figures such as the captain in The Poseidon Adventure. His best-known roles included the stalwart spaceship captain in the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet and the wealthy, available Southern aristocrat in Tammy and the Bachelor.
He later rose to stardom in Airplane!. In the comedy, he asks a passenger if he can fly the plane. The man replies, “Surely, you can’t be serious.” Nielsen then famously responds, “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”
In 1993, Nielsen published an autobiography, Naked Truth, in which he jokingly fabricated events in his life such as winning two Academy Awards, having an affair with Elizabeth Taylor and doing a stiny in rehab battling dopey-joke addiction.