Interestingly enough, before getting into low brow comedies, Nielson was quite the distinguished actor.
The New York Times reports:
Mr. Nielsen, a tall man with a matinee-idol profile, was often cast as an earnest hero at the beginning of his film career, in the 1950s.
His best-known roles included the stalwart spaceship captain in the science fiction classic “Forbidden Planet” (1956), the wealthy, available Southern aristocrat in “Tammy and the Bachelor” (1957) and an ocean liner captain faced with disaster in “The Poseidon Adventure”(1972).
In the 1960s and ’70s, as his hair turned white and he became an even more distinguished figure, Mr. Nielsen played serious military men, government leaders and even a mob boss, appearing in crime dramas, westerns and the occasional horror movie.
Once Airplane hit in 1980, well, the rest as they say is history.
While everyone likes to quote the famous “And don’t call me Shirley” line from Airplane, I’ve always been partial to this gem from Nielson’s character Lt. Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun.
Drebin: I’m single! I love being single! I haven’t had this much sex since I was a Boy Scout leader! … I mean at the time I was dating a lot.