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Mel Brooks Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (20) | Trivia (51) | Personal Quotes (29)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 28 June 1926Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameMelvin James Kaminsky
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Melvin James Kaminsky was born on June 28th, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian Jewish immigrants, Kate and James Kaminsky. His father died when Mel was twelve years old, and he has said that his angry humor stems from that event. As a young boy, he learned how to play the drums.

After brief education, he served in WWII, and afterwards got a job playing the drums at nightclubs in the Catskills. Brooks eventually started a comedy act and also worked in radio and as Master Entertainer at Grossinger's Resort before going to television.

He was a writer for, Your Show of Shows (1950) Caesar's Hour (1954) and wrote the Broadway show Shinbone Alley. He also worked in the creation of The 2000 Year Old Man (1975) and Get Smart (1965) before embarking on a highly successful film career in acting and directing.

Brooks was famous for the spoofs of different film genres that he made such as Blazing Saddles (1974), History of the World: Part I (1981), Silent Movie (1976), Young Frankenstein (1974), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), High Anxiety (1977), Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) and Spaceballs (1987). However, one of his most famous ones was The Producers, which was originally on stage, was adapted again on stage, and was adapted into future movies. Brooks has also worked on television shows such as, The Electric Company (1971) and Saturday Night Live (1975).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Foster

Spouse (2)

Anne Bancroft (5 August 1964 - 6 June 2005) (her death) (1 child)
Florence Baum (26 November 1953 - 20 January 1962) (divorced) (3 children)

Trade Mark (20)

Has frequently cast himself, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman (1927-2008), Rudy De Luca, Madeline Kahn (1942-1999), Cloris Leachman, Dom DeLuise (1933-2009), Ron Carey (1935-2007), Marty Feldman (1933-1982), and Kenneth Mars (1935-2011).
Almost always uses music by John Morris
Frequently uses the line: "we have much to do and less time to do it in"
His films usually contain many Jewish references and jokes
Always features one scene in his movies in which the main character is seated and staring blankly, wondering what went wrong, while friends console him.
The main villain wears a moustache or a beard
Always features a scene where one character is explaining a plan to another, and the latter character repeats everything the former says, including something outrageous. After realizing this, the latter exclaims "what?"
Lead character in his films is always a male
[Parody] Nearly all of Brooks' films parody a genre or a single film
His films often contain references to the film's sequel, which never come to pass. Good examples of this are History of the World: Part I (1981), Spaceballs (1987) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).
["Walk this way" gag] One character says "Walk this way!" (as in "Follow me!"), and another character(s) copies the way he/she is walking (History of the World: Part I (1981), Young Frankenstein (1974) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)).
Frequently has a bust of his head on the poster of video/DVD cover of his movies.
All of his movies feature a wacky song-and-dance number
Frequently makes fun of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany
Visual or verbal gags where the characters break the fourth wall and reference the fact that they're in a movie.
His main characters often stop and sarcastically direct a line to the camera/audience.
Energetic, raspy voice
His films often make numerous references to previous films whether a poster or cassette or an actual line spoken
Despite being known for directing comedies many of the films he acts as a producer on are heavy, serious dramas
References to Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"

Trivia (51)

Served as a corporal with the U.S. army in North Africa during World War II, where one of his duties was defusing land mines before the infantry moved in.
His stage name is an adaptation of his mother's maiden name, Brookman.
His film, The Producers (1967), was the inspiration for the title of U2's album, "Achtung Baby".
He produced and wrote the music, lyrics, and book for the Broadway musical "The Producers" (2001), the musical version of his earlier movie The Producers (1967). The Broadway hit musical then lead to the musical movie The Producers (2005).
One of the few people to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony. He won an Oscar for the screenplay of The Producers (1967); 3 Emmys in a row (1997-1999) for his guest appearance as Uncle Phil in Mad About You (1992); 3 Tonys for The Producers- Best Musical, Original Music Score and Book (musical); and 3 Grammys- Best Spoken Comedy Album for "The 2000 Year Old Man In The Year 2000" (1998, with Carl Reiner) and two for The Producers (2001): Best Musical Show Album (as composer/lyricist) and Best Long Form Music Video (as artist).
Son Eddie Brooks manages a band called "Early Edison".
Named one of E!'s "Top 20 entertainers of 2001.".
Called his late wife Anne Bancroft his Obi-Wan Kenobi since she encouraged him to turn his movie The Producers (1967) into a Broadway musical.
Named one of People Magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People of 2001".
According to his 1975 Playboy interview, Mel's favorite candy is Raisinets.
At the opening of the Broadway version of "The Producers", he was asked by a reporter if he was nervous about the play's reception, since it cost $40 million to produce. Brooks joked, "If it flops, I'll take the other sixty million and fly to Rio." He didn't have to worry, since the play was both a critical and financial success.
He and Anne Bancroft met on the set of a TV talk show, and Mel later paid a woman who worked on the show to tell him which restaurant Bancroft was going to eat at that night so he could "accidentally" bump into her again and strike up a conversation.
He and Bancroft married at New York's Municipal Building, where a passer-by served as their witness.
Children from his first marriage: Stefanie Brooks (born 1956), Nicky Brooks (born 1957) and Eddie Brooks (born 1959). Son, Max Brooks, with Anne Bancroft was born in 1972.
In 1966 he was about to co-star in a movie called "Easy Come, Easy Go" with Jan Berry and Dean Torrence in the leading roles. What would have been his on-screen debut, was canceled due to a car wreck during shooting, in which Berry suffered a severe brain damage and paralysis. On the casting list was also British comedy star Terry-Thomas.
Performed a rap song for the soundtrack of History of the World: Part I (1981) called "It's Good To Be The King". It was a surprisingly successful hip-hop/dance hit in 1981. He followed it up with "Hitler Rap" for To Be or Not to Be (1983). The song was not as successful. But the lyric "Don't be stupid, be a smarty/Come and join the Nazi Party" was originally used in the original movie version of The Producers (1967), then later reused in Brooks' Broadway version of "The Producers".
The 1944 edition of the Eastern District High School (Brooklyn, N.Y.) yearbook featured the future Mel Brooks (born Melvin Kaminsky) stating that his goal was to become President of the United States; forty-three years later, in 1987, his ambition was to be fulfilled, if only in fiction and in part -- in the movie Spaceballs (1987), he portrayed Spaceball leader "President Skroob".
His favorite song is "Yankee Doodle Dandy" by George M. Cohan.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy", by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 63-66. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985." Pages 162-167. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
He is a close friend of Italian TV star Ezio Greggio, whose movies he inspired. Brooks is often a guest in Greggio's shows, and Brooks offered Greggio a small part in his Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), due to this friendship.
In 2001 won three Tony Awards for "The Producers": as a co-producer of the Best Musical winner; as Best Book (Musical), with collaborator Thomas Meehan; and as Best Original Musical Score, both lyrics and music.
Grandson Henry Michael Brooks (Max's son) born April 2005.
In the original film version of The Producers (1967), Brooks' voice can be heard singing the line "Don't be stupid/Be a schmarty/Come and join the Nazi Party" during the "Springtime for Hitler" number. For the Broadway musical version, he repeats this task, with the live actor lip-synching to a recording of Brooks.
Has cited his favorite films as Bicycle Thieves (1948) (aka The Bicycle Thief) and La Grande Illusion (1937).
Though Blazing Saddles (1974) and Young Frankenstein (1974) are often cited as his best and most popular films as a director, his biggest video sales are Spaceballs (1987) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).
His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants. He is an avid fan of Russian literature, occasionally making references to works and writers in his films.
His running "walk this way" gag is also the inspiration for the song "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith. The gag was copied from William Powell's ad-lib in After the Thin Man (1936).
Would much rather write than direct.
He, Anne Bancroft and their son Max Brooks have all won Emmys.
Has directed two performers to Oscar nominations: Gene Wilder (for The Producers (1967)) and Madeline Kahn (for Blazing Saddles (1974)).
Worked with son Nicky Brooks at Brooksfilm. Nicky was a story editor on The Fly (1986), The Fly II (1989) and Spaceballs (1987).
Godfather of Alan Yentob's children.
He attended film director Alfred Hitchcock's funeral.
In an NPR interview he mentioned that he attended Virginia Military Institute and thus, in reference to the 1938 film's setting, was a "Brother Rat".
Was considered for the role of Dr. Sam Loomis in Halloween (1978).
One of the five winners of the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors. Other 2009 winners were Bruce Springsteen, Robert De Niro, Dave Brubeck, and Grace Bumbry.
Has directed three of the American Film Institute's 100 Funniest Movies: Blazing Saddles (1974) at #6, The Producers (1967) at #11 and Young Frankenstein (1974) at #13.
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 23, 2010.
His father died when Mel was age 2 and his impoverished childhood has been called 'Dickensian'.
Worked as a stand-up comedy "tummeler" in Catskill Mountains resorts before joining Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows (1950) immortal writing staff in the 1950s, which featured Neil Simon. It's also where he met performer Carl Reiner. This legendary Caesar show was the basis for the comedy classic, My Favorite Year (1982).
Often ate dinner at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Santa Monica, California, with his wife Anne Bancroft.
Will be presented, by Martin Scorsese, the 41st Life Achievement Award, on June 6, 2013 in Los Angeles, from the American Film Institute [October 5, 2012].
Grew up at 365 S. 3rd St in Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
Currently working on turning his 1974 comedy film hit, Young Frankenstein (1974), into his next Broadway musical, with a possible opening in 2005. [August 2004]
The stage musical adaptation of Brooks' hit 1974 film, Young Frankenstein (1974), opens to rave reviews in Seattle. [August 2007]
Opening the Australian production of "The Producers" in Melbourne. [April 2004]
Producing the stage musical adaptation of his hit 1974 film, Young Frankenstein (1974). The musical is slated to open Halloween night, Oct. 31st, 2007, at the St. James Theatre on Broadway after a summer try-out at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. [April 2007]
Best friends with Carl Reiner. Both of them widowers, they hang out and watch movies together every night.
His musical, "Young Frankenstein" at the Drury Lane Productions in Chicago, Illinois was nominated for a 2014 Joseph Jefferson Equity Award for Large Musical Production.
He has two roles in common with both Peter Cushing and Dennis Price: (1) Cushing played Victor Frankenstein in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), One More Time (1970) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), Price played him in Drácula contra Frankenstein (1972) and The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1972) and Brooks played him in Young Frankenstein (1974) and (2) Cushing played Professor Van Helsing in Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), Price played him in Son of Dracula (1974) and Brooks played him in Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995).

Personal Quotes (29)

"Why should I indulge myself and do a David Lean-ish kind of film? I could do my little Jewish Brief Encounter (1945) and disguise it - shorten the noses. But it wouldn't be as much fun as delivering my dish of insanity".
I cut my finger. That's tragedy. A man walks into an open sewer and dies. That's comedy.
My movies rise below vulgarity.
Critics can't even make music by rubbing their back legs together.
Oh, I'm not a true genius. I'm a near genius. I would say I'm a short genius. I'd rather be tall and normal than a short genius.
I'm the only Jew who ever made a buck offa 'Hitler'!
On Zero Mostel (1915-1977): He could be wicked and cruel, and he could be almost sweet, loving, kind, generous. The great thing about Zero was that he was uniquely gifted. He was really, truly talented, more talented than any actor except for Sid Caesar that I have ever worked with.
Look at Jewish history. Unrelieved lamenting would be intolerable. So, for every ten Jews beating their breasts, God designated one to be crazy and amuse the breast-beaters. By the time I was five I knew I was that one.
Humor is just another defense against the universe.
On his late Blazing Saddles (1974) star, Cleavon Little (1939-1992): My rule was not to eat with actors, but I enjoyed him so much that I begged him to eat with me.
As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna be dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes.
You're young forever when you write. Alfred Hitchcock directed until the day he died. As long as you don't have any dementia or Alzheimer's, if you have your All-Bran every day and clear yourself out, I think your brains are gonna be all right.
[on Woody Allen] Woody Allen is a genius. His films are wonderful.
[on Anne Bancroft] I'm married to a beautiful and talented woman who can lift your spirits just by looking at you.
[on the CIA] They don't know right from wrong. That's what makes a satire of these government bureaus [Get Smart (2008)] really funny.
On Buster Keaton (1895-1966): I don't think he was a genius. Einstein was a genius; Buster Keaton was astonishing. I've never seen any human being able to perform as brilliantly and gracefully with such unusually gifted timing. There was only one Keaton. His eyes shone with a certain intensity, fire and love. His face had little expression, but his eyes were always dynamically alive. His eyes spoke more than any script could speak.
Dom DeLuise was a big man in every way. He was big in size and created big laughter and joy. He will be missed in a very big way.
[on David Lynch] He's like James Stewart from hell.
I said to Slim Pickens you've made a hundred movies. Do you have any advice? He said, "Mel, whenever you get the chance. Sit down". Sit down? I felt like I was asking Orson Welles how you make Citizen Kane (1941) he says sit down? But Slim was right because it can get very tiring.
I love spaghetti and sex, sometimes together. My dream of heaven is walking naked through fields of pasta fazool.
Immortality is a by-product of good work. Masterpieces are not for artists, they're for critics. Critics can't even make music by rubbing their back legs together. My message to the world is 'Let's swing, sing, shout, make noise! Let's not mimic death before our time comes! Let's be wet and noisy!'
[on the famous campfire scene in Blazing Saddles (1974)]: I only break wind on the prairie.
[on Richard Pryor in Blazing Saddles (1974)] I knew how bright he was. I hired him because I was going to do a lot of black jokes. I said, 'I'm not going to take the heat for these. I want somebody there to give me the okay, see if I cross the line, what's in good taste, what's in bad taste.' Strangely enough, Pryor wrote very little of the black stuff. I wound up doing that.
I thank my lucky stars that I was born and that my brother Irving was so kind and good to me. He gave me... a tricycle, trying to make up for the loss of--I didn't realize it, but trying to make up for the loss of our father.
I had the best childhood. I loved life. I thought life was the most wonderful thing ever created.
I'm not such a comedy giant. I'm five-six. There are guys not as funny, but they're bigger. And I think that counts.
I've always been a huge admirer of my own work. I'm one of the funniest and most entertaining writers I know.
The musical blows the dust off your soul.
[on Hedy famously suing him] I was very flattered by it. I was extremely flattered by it. I was so flattered, I actually wrote Hedy a letter, thanking her, that a big, famous movie star, like her, could take notice of a little not-well-known writer, like myself. Because of it, Hedy and I became close. Besides my father, Hedy is the only person who got mad enough at me to yell at me in Hebrew. I was so flattered by the attention, I flew to Austria for her funeral. Until the day I die, I will able to say how flattered I was that one of the biggest stars, in Old Hollywood, paid attention to that unknown writer.

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