FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Leslie Nielsen, who went from drama to inspired bumbling as a hapless doctor in "Airplane!" and the accident-prone detective Frank Drebin in "The Naked Gun" comedies, has died. He was 84.
His agent John S. Kelly says Nielsen died Sunday at a hospital near his home in Ft. Lauderdale where he was being treated for pneumonia.
The Canadian-born Nielsen came to Hollywood in the mid-1950s after performing in 150 live television dramas in New York. With a craggily handsome face, blond hair and 6-foot-2 height, he seemed ideal for a movie leading man.
He quickly became known as a serious actor, although behind the camera he was a prankster. That was an aspect of his personality never exploited, however, until "Airplane!" was released in 1980 and became a huge hit.