Leslie Nielsen’s life celebrated at open-casket cocktail party

As the jazzy soundtrack of The Naked Gun blared on the speakers and Canadian mounties saluted, actor Leslie Nielsen’s coffin was carried into Fort Lauderdale’s Lago Mar Resort Monday afternoon for a memorial billed as “Cocktails With Leslie and Barbaree.”

About 100 family members and friends of the actor’s socialized near the open casket set up in one of the resort’s ballrooms. Some wiped away tears, others laughed quietly as they watched on a giant screen clips from famous the Canadian-born Nielsen’s films and TV shows, including Airplane!, The Naked Gun and TV’s Police Squad!.

No celebrity showed up, even though there had been a rumor last week that Priscilla Presley, Nielsen’s co-star in The Naked Gun, would be there.

Nielsen’s wife, Barbaree, and the couple’s neighbors at the nearby Point of the Americas in Fort Lauderdale greeted those who’d come to pay homage to the beloved comic.

“Leslie was someone who respected greatly law enforcement and loved to play cops at the movies,” said a source at the party. “That’s why the Mounties were there. The party was a celebration of his life. It was very respectful, but people seemed to enjoy it.”

Members of Broward’s 10-13 Club, retired New York City policemen, provided the color guard and Broward Sheriff’s motorcycles escorted the coffin from the funeral home to Lago Mar.

Nielsen, who was 84, died in a Broward hospital Nov. 28 from pneumonia.

I’m told Nielsen was scheduled to be cremated today.

-- Jose Lambiet, Palm Beach Post