Leslie Nielsen Essay, Research Paper
By: David Riesen
This essay will discuss the life and times of Leslie Nielsen and everything he had experienced to get where his is. It is said that Leslie had a good life, this essay will show that he did also go through some tough times when he was starting up his career as an actor.
In the beginning of Leslie s book he states that his life long dream was to become an actor. He said that he always knew that he would be a good actor even in the early stages of life. His mother would look into his crib and say, Your six years old, will you stop acting like a baby. Leslie mentioned that even in the later stages of his life he was told by many different people to act his age, to act normal and even when he started to realize girls were around he would be told to stop acting like a jerk. Along Leslie s life he had a few other dreams but they eventually became short lived. He had been very fortunate in his life, his career he pursued from childhood made him wealthy and the way he lived made him happy. He had become one of the fortunate people, who were financially and emotionally rewarded, over his life span he had been married to four beautiful women. (Naked Truth, 6)
Leslie moved to Edmonton when he was four years old. He went to school there and in his fourth year as a student there he found that he was definitely an actor. His fourth grade teacher tried to teach the class the beauty of Shakespeare. It was then when his teacher realized that his students were really too young to understand, so he created a fairytale version of Romeo and Juliet. Leslie played the role of Romeo; it wasn t the acting that gave him the thrill it was getting the applause at the end of his performance. Leslie then decided he was going to be an actor, but he decided he needed to finish school first. Leslie went through high school and shortly after that he enrolled in the Canadian Air Force. He wanted to be a fighter pilot but instead he became a pilot fighter. He never got to fly in the war. After that he only had two choices, he didn t have an education beyond high school so he could either be a beggar or an actor. He pondered the options and then decided to act. He got close by starting to work in a radio station. It wasn t the same but he got to announce different things and play songs and such. After a while he realized he needed some training, so he went to school to learn how to be a radio announcer. He did really well in the school and they gave him a scholarship to go to New York City and study acting with the teacher Sandy Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. (Naked Truth, 14)
Leslie had to now move to New York. He found an apartment, which was rather small, and at the time where money was a rumor he would live off of ketchup sandwiches. He studied acting and he was taught how to become really dumb things, he would be asked to be a chair or a tree or something stupid like that. The idea of this was to be able to get into character no matter how dumb the character or object seemed. They had to be able to express emotions and many other things. Leslie starred in many television series and became famous doing so. He played in 40 television shows in one year alone. One day while he was in a bar he was met by someone named Mr. Death pronounced Deeth who wanted to be Leslie s agent. Mr. Death found Leslie when he was at a show; he saw Leslie s performance and decided to track him down. Mr. Death told Leslie that he could find him work but only in Hollywood, he told Leslie that he could make by with the 5000 dollars he was making a year off of TV or he could make much more money out in Hollywood. (Naked Truth, 27)
Leslie had to make one of the biggest decisions of his life; he would have to risk not getting work in Hollywood. He consulted many people for advice, none of which really had an answer that was helpful. He got responses like, whatever you think is best or well the time has come for you to make up your own mind. So at last when all else failed he called his Uncle Jean Hersholt to ask his opinion on the subject. His uncle basically told him that Hollywood almost wasn t good enough for him. Leslie then closed his account at the bank that held all the money that he had received for doing TV shows, got onto a Greyhound bus and took a three day trip to Hollywood, California. (Naked Truth, 42)
When Leslie arrived in Hollywood he immediately started looking for work. Unfortunately he did not find any work, all the parts he called were taken, although he left a good impression at the auditions they always found someone better to fill the part. One extreme was that he was auditioning for a part of a six foot rabbit that only one actor could see, they needed someone who would do the voice and had no problem with not being around for a long time. The part went to someone who didn t show up for his audition, this was because he played his part of disappearing the best. Months went by and the only work he could find was playing the part of extras. He tried to explain the role of an extra to his brother, his brother s reply was, So if you re an extra that means that they don t need you. So what do they call people that they do need. Leslie s reply to his brother s confusion was they call people they need accountants. Leslie stayed working as an actor and notice that a few people were different from the way the public viewed them. (Naked Truth, 49)
Leslie finally got what he was looking for; he was invited to do a test with Columbia Pictures. The test consisted of an oral, a written and a stage test. They would really look long and hard upon how well the actors could act out a scene. Leslie, after completing the test, was called one week later by Columbia Pictures and they had informed him that Harry Cohn wished to see him. Leslie was anxious, he had no idea what to expect. Mr. Cohn looked at the test Leslie had done and then put it back down, he then reached for a cigar and told Leslie that he had been accepted. He was given a contract and he signed it. He was to go to an office and a bunch of people would decide on who he was. When Leslie signed the contract he signed it Leslie Nielsen, his stage name. He stated that his real name was irrelevant, and also the real Leslie Nielsen was also an actor but worked for low budget companies, the films were produced on a home camera. When he went to the meeting where he was going to be told who he was, there was a little difficulty, they went through the list of all possible roles and then the bright idea came up that he should be a rebel. They were going to make it seem like he could not be told what to do, although they would control his personality from then on. They told him to be himself, but he was only aloud to be himself the way they told him his self really was.
In conclusion, it is hoped that this essay has shown what show business is really like. It is not all just fun and games, some people have to live off of cheap food or no food at all, no good apartments, or just getting by with filling jobs. Leslie did in fact work hard to become recognized and discovered but he kept at it no matter how hard it became for him. So one might think that many people could follow his example and realize that by working hard at one thing, ones dreams can be accomplished.