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Farewell ‘Forbidden Planet’ actor Nielsen, ‘Empire Strikes Back’ director Kershner

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Leslie Nielsen in Forbidden PlanetFans of science fiction said goodbye to two icons this weekend.

First, actor Leslie Nielsen, who started out with “serious” roles like the spaceship commander in 1956’s Forbidden Planet but shifted late in his career toward comedy with Airplane! and The Naked Gun, died Sunday in Florida at age 84.

His role in Forbidden Planet as the dashing Cmdr. John J. Adams is widely believed to be the inspiration the Capt. James T. Kirk character in Star Trek.

Irvin KershnerOn Monday it was announced that Irvin Kershner, the director of 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, had died over the weekend in Los Angeles. He was 87. Kershner is credited with bringing darkness and depth of character to the Star Wars sequel.

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