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Aaron Belz


On the Death of Leslie Nielsen

When Leslie Nielsen was 27
he appeared in Josephine,
a play by Sally Benson.

So did my friend Orson Bean,
then 25, also an
aspiring actor.

The year was 1953.
Together they toured
major cities,

including St. Louis
(they played the American),
Chicago, New York.

"That was my very first
Broadway play," Orson emails.
I show my BlackBerry

to my wife. "Wow,"
she says. (It's like the time
Allen Ginsberg called.)

"Surely Orson knew
about the death before you?"
I reply, "He says not.

And stop calling me Shirley."
But I can't do deadpan
the way Leslie could. No one can.

Aaron Belz teaches English at Providence Christian College in Pasadena, California. His second poetry collection, Lovely, Raspberry, was published by Persea Books earlier this year.

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