For the S.F. Examiner, in 1988 I interviewed Nielsen on the occasion of the big screen release of Naked Gun. As highly respected a prankster as he was a comic actor, without thinking of the possible consequences, I asked him some question or other that included the word farceur. And without missing so much as a beat, he feigned cutting the cheese with the omni-present whoopee cushion he always carried with him. Blaaaaat. Now that's fast!
This was the same press junket where I was instructed by the film's publicist that under no circumstances was I to ask Priscilla Presley any questions whatsover about either the pre-carb or post- carb Elvi. This was Priscilla's film debut and so there was not much of an ouevre to chat about. But I had a last minute inspiration almost as quick-minded as Nielsen's (above). "Ms. Presley," I said, "I realize I'm not supposed to ask you questions about your former husband. But if I COULD, what question wouldn't you mind answering?" That broke the ice. She gave out with a charming laugh and then proceded to talk almost exclusively about Elvis, when she wasn't otherwise engaged plugging Naked Gun. All the while, the publicist fuming immediately to my right.
Upon his passing, U.K. actor/comedian Russell Brand remarked yesterday "Shirley, he will be missed" (as in "Don't call me Shirley."
I wonder if Nielsen will be buried with his beloved whoopee cushion?