In 1986, as a budding entertainment reporter I found myself standing next to Leslie Nielsen at a Genie Award partyÂ…I tapped him on the shoulder and blurted out “I am a great fanÂ…of your brother”, Erik Nielsen was the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada at the time.
Well that line garnered me a lunch date with the Canadian icon. Luckily for me, a friend warned me that Leslie carried around a fart toy that he loved to squeeze in crowded places and then pretend he was embarrassed while apologizing profusely. Within minutes of arriving at our date destination Leslie was farting away.
On a serious note, I was in the process of starting a new business venture and Leslie took the time to give me some insightful and creative suggestions. He was sincerely interested in what I was doing and his advice was taken to heart.
A year later, I found myself lunching with Leslie again, this time we had company. Much to my surprise we were joined by Nancy Greene…Lorne Greene’s widow and Alfie Scopp, best known as Howdy Doody’s Clarabell the Clown. It was like my childhood came to life over a Caesar salad.
After lunch I drove Leslie to the airport, he told me he was debating between coming back to Toronto to do a movie or going back to LA to do a movie called Naked Gun, based on a TV series he had once done Police Squad. My advice was to take the Canadian movie…and had the nerve to then suggest, he could take the train out to my place and help me paint my new apartment. Lucky for the world’s moviegoers… he did not take my advice.
Our paths crossed over the years both in Toronto and in LA, he was happily married to Barbaree, and as far as I could tell he still carried his fart toy…at least I think it was the toy!
Rest in peace my friend…hope you bring your toy to heaven…the angels could probably use a good laugh!
This morning as I watched The View‘s ladies reflecting back on Leslie’s years in the spotlight, I could not help but laugh when The View’s Babrbara Walters showed a clip of Nielsen and his fart toy!