Mel Brooks, born on June 28, 1926, started his career as a comedian and writer for a variety show in the 1950s. In a career spanning 70 years, he has made many successful films, most of which were comedies of various forms. Brooks has won a variety of awards for his films and recently published his autobiography as well. Join us as we celebrate the special day of this legendary filmmaker and comedian!
Mel Brooks was born Melvin James Kaminsky on June 28, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York. The son of Kate and Max Kaminsky, he is one of the most celebrated names in comedy, having made many award-winning films. Around 1945, he began performing at resorts and nightclubs as a pianist and drummer. He then started to write comedy for television. In 1950, Sam Caesar created “Your Show of Shows” and employed Brooks as one of the writers. The show ran till 1954. He began to perform improvisation routines where he would play a new character each time. From 1956 to 1960, he and Carl Reiner began performing “2000 Year Old Man” on the “Steve Allen Show.” In 1962, Brooks wrote a Broadway musical titled “All American.” The musical ran for 20 performances and was nominated for two Tony Awards. He also created the short animated film “The Critic” (1963), which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film.
One of Brooks’ most famous creations was “Get Smart” (1965 to 1970), which won seven Emmy awards. In 1968, he made his first feature film titled “The Producers” for which he won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. He started getting noticed as a film director in the ‘70s; he directed “Blazing Saddles” (1974) and “Silent Movie” (1976). The latter movie starred Brooks in his first leading role. In the 2000s, he began lending his voice to animated film characters, notably in the “Hotel Transylvania” movie series.
Brooks released his autobiography “All About Me!” in 2021. He was married for nine years to Florence Baum, a Broadway dancer; they have three children. After their divorce, he married actress Anne Bancroft with whom he has a son (Max Brooks, who is also an actor and author). He was married to Bancroft until she died in 2005.
He works as a comedy writer for Sam Caesar’s T.V. series “Your Show of Shows,” which runs for four years.
Along with Carl Reiner, Brooks does improvisation routines, among which is the comedy sketch “2000 Year Old Man.”
He writes “All American,” a Broadway musical, which runs for 80 performances; it is nominated for two Tony Awards.
For his film “The Critic,” Brooks wins an Academy Award for Best Animated Film.
Brooks directs the hugely successful “The Producers,” a satirical comedy film about Adolf Hitler.
He forms his company Brooksfilms, which makes a variety of award-winning comedy and non-comedy films.
Why We Love Mel Brooks
He was only nine when he decided he wanted to enter show business. After the war, his mother had arranged a job for him as a clerk, but Brooks took a cab to the Catskills where he worked as a pianist and drummer. It was from there that he rose to become a great comedian, actor, and filmmaker. Brooks made his dream a reality through his talent and sheer determination!
He wasn’t afraid of the consequences
The filmmaker often made satires that centered around controversial figures in history, like “The Producers.” He wasn’t afraid of whatever consequences such satirical storylines would bring. He showed Hollywood he didn’t go with the flow.
He wasn’t restricted to one genre
Though he is famous for being a comedy film director, he expanded to other genres, such as drama. One of the reasons he established Brooksfilms was that he knew that any poster that said “Mel Brooks presents…” would be perceived as a comedy film. His production company, therefore, allowed him to make successful non-comedy films as well.
5 Surprising Facts
He served in the army
Brooks was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944 and served during World War II; he was sent to a specialized training program that taught military engineering, foreign languages, and medicine.
The eighth “E.G.O.T.” awardee
He has won the four most prestigious awards: the Emmy, Grammy (for a 1961 comedy album), Oscar, and Tony Awards; and he is acknowledged as the eighth “E.G.O.T.” awardee.
Alfred Hitchcock helped him once
Brooks made the mystery comedy film “High Anxiety” based on inputs from Alfred Hitchcock; the film was released in 1977.
Brooks’ father and mother were Jewish natives of Gdansk, Poland, and Kyiv, Ukraine, respectively.
“The Producers” as a Broadway musical
Brooks’ first feature-length film “The Producers” was performed as a Broadway musical from 2001 to 2007.
Mel Brooks FAQs
What was the last movie Mel Brooks made as a director?
The last motion picture Brooks made as a director was “Dracula: Dead and Loving It” in 1995.
What was the reason behind Mel Brooks’ professional name?
This was to avoid any mix-up with renowned trumpeter Max Kaminsky; the surname Brooks was taken from Brookman, his mother’s maiden name.
How did Mel Brooks meet Anne Bancroft?
Brooks met Bancroft when he took a break from a Broadway musical’s production and attended the rehearsal of a Perry Como Show where she was a guest star.
Mel Brooks’s birthday dates