Home > History of ZAP, ZAP Customers, ZAP People > In Electric Car Memoriam: Actor Leslie Nielsen (1926–2010)

In Electric Car Memoriam: Actor Leslie Nielsen (1926–2010)


Leslie Nielsen's autographed photo, "To ZAP - ZAP the World!!"

Actor and electric car advocate Leslie Nielsen.

Hollywood marked the passing of actor Leslie Nielsen at age 84, but it was his contributions to the electric car world and ZAP that we remember most.

Actor Leslie Nielsen next to the Nieman Marcus electric car by Solar Electric Engineering.

Leslie Nielsen in a 1993 promotion of U.S. Electricar's GT electric car in the Nieman Marcus Catalog.

Famous for his later roles in the “Airplane” and “Naked Gun” comedies, Leslie Nielsen was indeed an early electric car advocate, long before they became popular and before billions in funding were given to those who fought electric cars.  He owned two different electric cars converted by Solar Electric Engineering (now Enova Systems).

Long-time electric car advocate Gary Starr developed a friendship with Nielsen, and when Starr founded ZAP in 1994, Nielsen became one of the very first shareholders and customers.

He helped promote electric cars by driving a Destiny 2000 from Solar Electric, built specially for the 1991 film Naked Gun 2-1/2.  Directed by David Zucker, the comedy depicted a cabal of power elite led by actor Robert Goulet trying to prevent the public from knowing about the benefits of the electric car. In the 1994 sequel “Naked Gun 33-1/3: The Final Insult,” it’s interesting to note that Nielsen backs his electric car over OJ Simpson.

Nielsen will be remembered most for the range of his acting talent.  Few actors were able to successfully transition from dramatic roles to comedy, but Nielsen “made it look easy,” according to CNN.

He loved to joke around whenever he visited ZAP and usually had his favorite rubber chicken or whoopee cushion on-hand.  Perhaps some of Nielsen’s fun-loving personality rubbed off on ZAP because the famous rubber chicken made an appearance this year to lighten the mood during several anxious moments leading up to the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE.

Thank you, Leslie for making us laugh and for doing your part for the electric car movement!

The Destiny 2000 solar electric car from Naked Gun 2-1/2: The Smell of Fear

From the 1991 film "Naked Gun 2-1/2: The Smell of Fear"

  1. DManuel
    November 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Sad to know he won’t be arround anymore.

  2. December 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for the informative article, it was a good read and I hope its ok that I share this with some facebook friends. Thanks.

  3. May 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I sold Leslie and David Zucker their electric cars….quite proud of that since they were both solid supporters of doing the right thing for the right reasons. Filming with Leslie on Daytona Beach, with Benny Hill was one of my fondest memories. Spent a lot of time at Leslie’s house in the Hollywood hills, right above Sunset Blvd. What a view. His home in Scottsdale also sported environmental goodies as well. Spent many hours on the various TV and movie sets them both. We had a ball here in my home town of Las Vegas, filming ads for ZAP and the electric water scooters. Also, spending time with David Zwas always a pleasure, even though we ended up with a not so good scooter (not electric) for his ranch, which I stayed at several times. WhaleRock Ranch, fond memories for me, my wife, and son.

    Leslie was always funny, AND ONE OF THE SMARTEST PEOPLE I HAVE EVER MET.
    David referred to himself often as the “Davy Crockett” of Electric cars, very appropriate think. A great guy.

    Don Bright

  1. November 30, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: