He was interred in Fort Lauderdale's Evergreen Cemetery. In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Nielsen pointed out that he remembers Curtiz as "a sadist a charming sadist but a sadist".
Nielsen's performance in the films Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure received positive reviews as a serious actor although he is primarily known for his comedic roles during the 1980s and the early 1990s. Nielsen made his film debut in 1956 and began collecting his roles in dramas westerns and romance films between the 1950s and the 1970s. Nielsen's portrayal of comedic characters seemingly oblivious to (and complicit in) their absurd surroundings gave him a reputation as a comedian.