R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen, star of Forbidden Planet and numerous science fiction spoofs

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Leslie Nielsen, who died last night, helped to pioneer the science fiction genre on screen when he starred in Forbidden Planet. And then he helped lampoon that genre in countless spoof movies, including 2001: A Space Travesty.


If Nielsen had only starred in Forbidden Planet, his contribution to science fiction would still be incalculable. Here's a reel of outtakes and deleted scenes focusing on his role in the film (thanks to Bonnie Burton):

Later in his career, he also starred in the Ray Bradbury Theater episode "Marionettes, Inc." Here's the whole thing:

But after he'd already had a lengthy and varied career including a lot of dramatic roles, Nielsen launched an illustrious comedy career — in which he often poked fun at science fiction (as well as the "spy-fi" genre that includes wacky science and crazy gadgets.) Among the many science fictional spoofs and comedies he appeared in, there's The Reluctant Astronaut (1967), The Creature Wasn't Nice (1983), Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), 2001: A Space Travesty (2000), the Scary Movie films and Superhero Movie (2008).

Here's a scene from The Creature Wasn't Nice, where a monster sings "I Want To Eat Your Face":

Here he is in 2001: A Space Travesty:

Nielsen will be missed, but at least his insanely awesome career has left us with a lot of gems to rewatch, including Forbidden Planet, Airplane and the Naked Gun movies.


Corpore Metal

A lot of us will miss him.

So young and earnest in Forbidden Planet—one of my very favorite SF movies of all time.

So hugely funny in nearly everything else he did.

The ending of Police Squad where they freeze up but the hot coffee is still pouring onto the floor and and you can see his eyes moving back and forth letting us know it's all pretense and now he's a bit worried about that coffee.

And the scene in Naked Gun where he forgets he's still wearing a wire and walks into the bathroom to answer nature's call. Somehow the mic's output is piped into the ballroom's public address system and the whole formal dinner party hears him as he grunts, whistles, groans and dribbles away. I couldn't stop laughing, my jaw hurt so much.