Leslie Nielsen

Born Feb. 11, 1926, in Regina, Canada, the son of a Mountie, Leslie Nielsen first scored on Canadian radio. Upon moving to the United States, he debuted in live TV dramas in 1950. More TV and stage work led to a small film role in 1956's The Vagabond King. He fared better as a contract player at MGM in Ransom, The Opposite Sex and, most importantly, in the enduring cult favorite Forbidden Planet (all 1956).

Nielsen's middlebrow appeal made him a familiar face on American television in the '60s and '70s, an image he parodied to surprising effect in the comedy smash Airplane (1980). That and the ensuing Naked Gun film series (starting in 1988) brought him new stardom as a slapstick comedian.

Nielsen continued to tackle dramatic roles in Nuts (1987) and in a 1996 one-man stage show as Clarence Darrow. He kept audiences laughing in the '90s and beyond in Spy Hard and 2006's Scary Movie 4. Nielsen died Nov. 28, 2010, from complications of pneumonia.