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Leslie and Erik Nielsen laugh it up

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"Is there any way to get you two to be serious for a moment?" pleads host Peter Gzowski, a vain hope as he interviews irrepressibly clever and comic brothers Leslie and Erik Nielsen. Leslie, star of the films Forbidden Planet, Airplane! and The Naked Gun and his older brother Erik, former Conservative MP and deputy prime minister visit Morningside to talk about their respective careers and the comedy in their genes.
Leslie Nielsen on alternative career choices: "If I couldn't be an actor, I would only consider being an astronaut, a sea otter or a gynecologist." - quoted in Mondo Canuck: A Canadian Pop Culture Odyssey

• Erik Nielsen , who was nicknamed "Velcro lips," was renowned for his discretion and unsmiling demeanour while serving as a cabinet minister. This created a reputation of secrecy which some felt reflected poorly on the government. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney forced Nielsen to resign from cabinet over his handling of a conflict-of-interest scandal in 1986.

• Leslie Nielsen's career took off only when he started spoofing himself. His role as a deadpan goof in Airplane! was a mockery of his many serious roles. He already had 150 movie and television appearances under his belt before Airplane! in 1980.

• Leslie Nielsen was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002 in recognition of his talent and versatility, as well as his humanitarian work with UNICEF.

• Leslie Nielsen never ran for office like his brother, but he has carried rank on screen. He's played a U.S. president, a general, colonel, captain, lieutenant, sergeant major, sheriff and mayor ... as well as Santa Claus, Dracula and God.

• The Nielsen family moved a great deal when Erik and Leslie were young, as their father Ingvard worked in various RCMP outposts around the country, including one just 320 kilometers from the Arctic Circle. Ingvard Nielsen eventually retired from the RCMP and started a private-eye business in Edmonton.

• Erik Nielsen died on Sept. 5, 2008 of a heart attack. He was 84.

• Leslie Nielsen died on Nov. 27, 2010, also at 84.

Medium: Radio Program: Morningside with Peter Gzowski
Broadcast Date: Oct. 25, 1991
Guest(s): Erik Nielsen, Leslie Nielsen
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 21:33
Photo: Erik Nielsen (left) by Charles Mitchell/Canadian Press. Leslie Nielsen by Luca Bruno/Associated Press.

Last updated: June 26, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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