We will always remember Leslie Nielsen fondly for his classic comic portrayal of Detective Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun series and, of course, as the deadpan Dr. Rumack in Airplane!
("Surely, you can't be serious?" someone asked him in Airplane! "I am serious," Rumack replied. And don't call me Shirley.")
Mr. Nielsen's death a few days ago at the age of 84 reminded us of a wonderful moment years ago at the Maricopa County courthouse in downtown Phoenix.
We stepped into an elevator on the way up to a trial on one of the upper floors. A well-dressed older couple crowded in at the last second.
We recognized the man immediately--it was the inimitable Leslie Nielson.
We hadn't even reached the third floor before the telltale sound of flatulence emanated from Nielson.
For the record, it was very loud.
"`Scuse me," he said, looking straight ahead as he immediately let another one go.
"Sorry," he said impassively. "Whoops."
The elevator stopped. A few people got off, staring back at the gent.
When we reached the 6th or 7th floor, where Nielsen and his female friend were getting off, he was honking like a, well, we don't know quite how to describe it.
We were laughing uproariously by then.
He stepped out, showed us the little fart machine he had kept hidden in his hand, and smiled.
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"You all have a great day," Mr. Nielson told us as the door closed behind him.