A Little Lesson on Never Giving Up

December 3, 2010 by  
Filed under blog

As most of you know, the very talented Leslie Nielsen died this past weekend. He was an amazing person not only because of his talent but also because of his perseverance.

Nielsen childhood was a difficult one, growing up in an abusive home but with one particular shining star in his life—his uncle who was a well-known actor. The awe and respect his uncle garnered inspired Nielsen to pursue an acting career even though, as he told a Boston Globe reporter in 1994, he was “very shy about it and certainly without courage regarding it”. Yet, it was what he wanted and so, even though he often felt he would be discovered to be a no-talent, he moved forward, gaining a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse and making his first television appearance a few years later in 1948. However, becoming a full-time, successful actor would still be an uphill battle for another 8 years until he landed a number of film roles that finally got him noticed.

But even then, what he had wasn’t quite what he wanted. Apparently Nielsen always felt he should be doing comedy but his good looks and distinguished voice kept him busy in dramatic roles. It wasn’t until 1980—32 years into his career—that he landed the role it would seem he was made for in “Airplane!”. That movie lead him into the second half of a prolific and notable career where his comedic presence alone could make a movie a financial success even when the critics would not give it two thumbs up.

Did Nielsen then feel content in his career? Yes and no. He was thrilled to be doing the comedy that he always felt he should do, but even during his last few years, he always had an innate sense of curiosity, wondering what new role or challenge might be just around the corner. He never stopped working, never retired. He had a passion, not only for acting and entertaining but also for living.

Leslie Nielsen’s passion and perseverance is wonderfully inspiring. He built a hugely successful career with little more than plain old hard work and doggedness. He showed us that even a single desire, never given up on, can make for a remarkable life. And I, for one, want to thank him for it.