]]>Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker wanted someone who could play things absolutely straight in the midst of their anarchic comedy. Nielsen fit the bill perfectly, delivering line after memorable line in “Airplane!” without the slightest wink to the audience — which only made them funnier. He re-teamed with Abrahams and the Zucker brothers in 1982 for the short-lived series “Police Squad!,” which parodied the stolid cop shows of the era (some of which Nielsen had previously guest-starred on) with the same brilliance. The show lasted only six episodes, though it did earn Nielsen an Emmy nomination for best actor in a comedy series. His character, Frank Drebin, would live on in three “Naked Gun” movies beginning in 1988. He continued his comedy career in later films like “Spy Hard” and “Dracula: Dead and Loving It,” and more recently he played the president in the third and fourth “Scary Movies.” Below are two clips featuring Nielsen at his best. The first is perhaps his most famous line from “Airplane!,” and the second is the the opening 10 minutes of the first “Police Squad!” episode.
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