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Leslie Nielsen with 7 inflatable penguins

Leslie Nielsen
Actor / Movie Star, Paradise Valley, AZ ~ 1:00 PM on 11.20.2002

Environmental Portrait of Leslie Nielsen for Saturday Night Magazine ("The New Yorker of Canada") for their Swimsuit issue. The only art direction I got was that he "has to be in a swim suit with no shirt on" and that it might be nice to have some props in the shot, but they left it to me to figure out what I wanted to do.

The art director gives me Leslie Nielsen's address & phone number, so I call him up and say "the magazine wants to do something fun, maybe with props." He says, "I don't want to do anything too proppy." So I say, "Well, I know you were in a lot of serious movies in the 50's and 60's, but since 1980 with Airplane, and the Naked Gun movies, you have a reputation for being pretty funny." And he says, "Oh. I don't go looking for those kinds of roles..." At this point I think he's just pulling my leg.

So I go to Paddock Pools to look for some props, and find some plastic pink flamingos (which we did some other shots with) and 7 of these inflatable penguins. I used Paddock's air compressor to blow them up... (have you ever tried to blow up one of these inflatable things -- it takes forever, and 7 of them... forget about it). So I pay for the penguins and put them in the back of my truck and drive home.

The next day, I show up with the 7 inflatable penguins and knock on the door of his house. Leslie Nielsen comes out and I introduce myself and my assistant, and then show him one of the inflatable penguins. I say "I got 7 of these, what do you think?" He says "that's pretty good..." Then Leslie suggested we have him and the penguins at the table playing poker.

I tell him it'll take about 90 minutes to set up the shot. We get everything set up and I ask his wife if they "have a spray gun for the hose, so he can shoot the water in the air like I want him to." She says they don't, but "Just have him use his thumb, cause the shot's about him and not the spray gun, right?" So we had him use his thumb, and it was no big deal.

I gave one of the inflatable penguins to Leslie Nielsen and another to my assistant. I returned the other 5 to Paddock, cause what am I gonna do with 7 inflatable penguins? That is my towel though, so I brought it home.

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