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‘Airplane!’ Funnyman Leslie Nielsen Dead at 84

The “Naked Gun” actor was struggling with a staph infection and contracted pneumonia

Leslie Nielsen, the veteran Canadian actor whose bumbling straight-man schtick made him one of Hollywood's funniest leading men in comedy, has died of pneumonia complications while battling a staph infection. He was 84.

Nielsen had been in a Florida hospital for 12 days with a staph infection, his press agent, David Kramer, confirmed to TheWrap. It wasn't immediately clear if he contracted the infection at the hospital or elsewhere.

He succumbed Sunday afternoon to complications with pneumonia.

CJOB in Manitoba first posted audio Sunday night of Nielsen's nephew, Doug Nielsen, saying the actor peacefully fell asleep Sunday with his wife, actress Barbaree Earl Nielsen, and family at his side.

Nielsen's family released a statement confirming his death: "We are saddened by the passing of beloved actor Leslie Nielsen, probably best remembered as Lt. Frank Drebin in 'The Naked Gun' series of pictures, but who enjoyed a more than 60-year career in motion pictures and television."

See slideshow: Leslie Nielsen, a Life in Spoof

Nielsen had a long career in TV drama and films before becoming an unlikely comedy star with the 1980 disaster-spoof hit "Airplane!" in which he played Dr. Rumack. The clueless doctor with a patrician air inspired the makers of "Airplane!" to bring Nielsen's newfound comedy schtick to the small screen with "Police Squad."

Though that show lasted only four episodes before being canceled, it won Nielsen an Emmy nomination and his role as Lt. Frank Drebin was reprised in film with "Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad." The final installment of the triloy, "Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear," debuted in 1991. (Story continues below the video).

Nielsen was born in 1926 in Saskatchewan, Canada. His father was a mountie and a strict disciplinarian and his mother Welsh; one of his brothers became the deputy prime minister of Canada.

He is survived by two daughters, Thea and Maura, whom he had with Sandy Ullman, his second wife.

Nielsen had 50 films to his credit and many more TV roles, according to Imdb.com. He had just produced “Stonerville,” and was doing voiceover work on “The Waterman Movie,” which is still in production.