Few actors have the ability to raise a smile just by the thought of them. Leslie Nielsen, deadpan extraordinaire, who used his training as a regular leading man in po-faced dramas to fruitfully spoof them for 30 years, was one of them. News of his death today will be greeted with both remembered happiness and a huge amount of sadness.
Nielsen was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1926, 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the son of a mountie and a Welsh immigrant from Fulham. His older brother, Erik, was deputy prime minister of Canada during the 1980s, while their uncle, Jean Hersholt, was a prominent silent-film actor. Here, on David Letterman, promoting the second Naked Gun film, Nielsen credits