Leslie Nielsen is an exception.
Any Nielsen fan who was crestfallen upon hearing of his death Sunday at age 84 likely was cracking up just seconds later, thinking of all the priceless moments he created for us in movies and on television.
Nielsen started out as a dramatic actor, probably most famous for his roles as Commander J.J. Adams in the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet , and the captain of the ill-fated ship in The Poseidon Adventure .
But his deadpan performance in the 1980 comedy Airplane! helped solidify the genre of the movie spoof. And his role as Det. Frank Drebin -- in the TV show Police Squad! and the Naked Gun movies it inspired -- crowned him as that genre's beloved king.
Nielsen took full advantage of his unerring ability to play it straight, making his characters hilariously oblivious to the madcap situations they helped create. He was an ideal vehicle to deliver some of the most often-quoted comedic lines in recent entertainment history.
A lesser-known line is one of our many favorites: On Police Squad!, a crime boss growled at an undercover Drebin, "Who are you, and how did you get in here?" Drebin: "I'm a locksmith. And, I'm a locksmith."
How sad Nielsen left us -- but we're so grateful he also left us laughing.