Mel Brooks Biography

(Actor, Comedian And Filmmaker)

Birthday: June 28, 1926 (Cancer)

Born In: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Melvin James Kaminsky, popularly known as Mel Brooks, is a famous American comedian, director, producer, screenwriter, actor, composer, and lyricist. He was born in a Jewish household in New York. He served in the US military as a corporal before shifting his attention to playing the piano and performing stand-up comedy acts in the ‘Borscht Belt’ resorts. From there on, his comic skills were recognized and he was hired to write for the comedy series ‘Your Show of Shows.’ Brooks contributed as a writer for many sitcoms during the early period of his life. After cementing his place in Hollywood, he went on to direct movies like ‘The Producers,’ ‘Young Frankenstein,’ ‘The Twelve Chairs,’ etc. He started his own production company under the name ‘Brooksfilms’ and produced a number of films. He also produced, wrote, and directed many Broadway musicals. He is one of the few artists in Hollywood to have received ‘Emmy,’ ‘Grammy,’ ‘Oscar,’ and ‘Tony Awards’ (EGOT). He has also received ‘AFI Life Achievement Award’ and three of his films are named in the American Film Institute's list of ‘top 100 comedy films of all-time.’

31
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Melvin Kaminsky

Age: 97 Years, 97 Year Old Males

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Anne Bancroft (m. 1964–2005), Florence Baum (m. 1953–1962)

father: James Kaminsky

mother: Kate (née Brookman), Kate Kaminsky

siblings: Bernie, Irving, Lenny

children: Eddie Brooks, Max Brooks, Nicky Brooks, Stephanie Brooks

Born Country: United States

Quotes By Mel Brooks Jewish Actors

Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Males

Notable Alumni: Eastern District High School

Ancestry: German American, Ukrainian American, Polish American, Russian American

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Eastern District High School

  • 1

    What inspired Mel Brooks to become a filmmaker?

    Mel Brooks was inspired by the classic horror film "Frankenstein" to pursue a career in comedy and filmmaking.

  • 2

    How did Mel Brooks come up with the idea for "Blazing Saddles?"

    Mel Brooks came up with the idea for "Blazing Saddles" while thinking about how absurd it would be to have a black sheriff in a western town.

  • 3

    What is Mel Brooks' approach to writing comedy?

    Mel Brooks believes in pushing the boundaries of humor and often incorporates satire, parody, and absurdity into his comedy.

  • 4

    How did Mel Brooks manage to balance satire and comedy in his films?

    Mel Brooks is known for his ability to blend satire with comedy by using humor to address serious and controversial topics in a clever and thought-provoking way.

  • 5

    What impact has Mel Brooks had on the comedy genre?

    Mel Brooks is considered a trailblazer in the comedy genre for his innovative and irreverent approach to humor, influencing generations of comedians and filmmakers.

Childhood & Early Life

Mel Brooks was born on June 28, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York, USA, to James and Kate Kaminsky. He was born into a Jewish household and had three older brothers, namely Irving, Lenny, and Bernie. His father died of a kidney disease when Brooks was two years old.

Brooks was often bullied by other boys of his age. He went to ‘Abraham Lincoln High School.’ He also attended ‘Eastern District High School’ and ‘Brooklyn College.’ He learnt to play the drums from Buddy Rich at school.

mel-brooks-37020.jpg
Continue Reading Below
Career

After his stint in the military during ‘World War II,’ Brooks played piano at the ‘Borscht Belt’ resorts and started working as a stand-up comedian. He also did some comic radio work as well. He eventually became the master entertainer at ‘Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel.’

In 1949, Brooks was hired by his friend Sid Caesar to write comic one-liners for the NBC series ‘The Admiral Broadway Revue.’ The job paid him 50 US dollars per week. He was happy to be a comedy writer.

In 1950, Sid Caesar came up with his own variety comedy series called ‘Your Show of Shows,’ which had Brooks as a writer along with Carl Reiner, Mel Tolkin, Neil Simon, etc. The series was an instant hit and ran for four years.

In 1954, Brooks wrote for another Caesar’s show called ‘Caesar’s Hour’ along with the same writing cast from ‘Your Show of Shows.’ It ran for three years at the end of which Brooks wrote ‘Shinbone Alley,’ his first Broadway musical.

In the late-1950s, Brooks became good friends with his co-writer Carl Reiner and they both started working on various comedy routines. They created the ‘2000 Year Old Man’ and performed the routine in New York, where it became a cult success.

From 1960 to 1962, Brooks and Reiner expanded the ‘2000 Year Old Man’ and took it to Hollywood and began performing it on ‘The Steve Allen Show.’ They also released a comedy album titled ‘2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.’

In 1962, he wrote ‘All American,’ a musical Broadway. Ray Bolger starred in the Broadway, which had lyrics by Lee Adams and music by Charles Strouse. The show ran for 80 performances and won two ‘Tony Awards.’

In 1963, Brooks wrote the script for an animated short film called ‘The Critic’ with an arty and obscure concept. The movie was directed by Ernest Pintoff. The movie won an ‘Oscar’ under the ‘Animated Short Film’ category.

‘Get Smart,’ a comedy series created by Brooks and Buck Henry, ran on American television from 1965 to 1970. It was a comedy series based on a clumsy spy who gets inspired by ‘James Bond.’ It received seven ‘Emmys’ in total.

Continue Reading Below

In 1967, he made his first directorial venture, ‘The Producers.’ It was released as an art film because of its bizarre concept and satirical take on Hitler. It received an ‘Oscar’ and was later turned into a musical, receiving 12 ‘Tony Awards.’

In 1970, Brooks made the movie ‘The Twelve Chairs,’ loosely based on the Russian novel with the same title. The movie was shot in Yugoslavia on a budget of 1.5 million US dollars, but it failed to achieve commercial success.

In 1972, Brooks signed a deal with ‘Warner Brothers’ to re-write the script of what was then known as ‘Tex-X.’ He was later hired as the director for the movie and it was called ‘Blazing Saddles.’ It was the second-highest grossing film of the year.

In 1974, ‘Young Frankenstein’ released. It starred Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, etc. and had Gene Hackman in an unforgettable cameo. It was the third-highest grossing film of the year and received two ‘Oscar’ nominations.

In 1975, Brooks went back to television and made a series called ‘When Things Were Rotten.’ It was a parody on the story of Robin Hood. It did not do very well and lasted for only 13 episodes.

In 1976, he released ‘Silent Movie,’ which was written and developed along with Ron Clark. It was the first full-length silent comedy in decades. It was not as successful as the last few movies by Brooks.

In 1977, Brooks made a parody on Alfred Hitchcock’s movies like ‘Vertigo,’ ‘Psycho,’ ‘Suspicion,’ ‘Dial M for Murder,’ etc., and the parody was called ‘High Anxiety.’ It was written by Brooks, Ron Clark, Rudy De Luca, and Barry Levinson.

In 1980, Brooks produced ‘The Elephant Man,’ which was directed by David Lynch. It was produced under ‘Brooksfilms,’ a production company that produced only non-comedy ventures.

In 1981, he wrote, produced, and directed a movie called ‘History of the World Part I,’ which was a parody on the history of mankind until the time of the French Revolution. It received mixed reviews and was a moderate commercial hit.

Continue Reading Below

In 1983, Brooks produced and starred in the remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s film ‘To Be or Not to Be.’ It was directed by Alan Johnson. Brooks played the role of Hitler in the movie; it was a satire on Germany during WW II.

From 1987 to 1989, Brooks directed a comedy science fiction titled ‘Spaceballs.’ He also made a sitcom called ‘The Nutt House’ which was broadcast on NBC. The series did not do very well commercially.

In the 1990s, Brooks directed movies like ‘Life Stinks,’ a critical and commercial failure, ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights,’ which was loosely based on his sitcom ‘When Things Were Rotten,’ and ‘Dracula: Dead and Loving It.’

In the 2000s, he appeared in TV series like ‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Mad About You,’ ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,’ etc. He also did cameos in movies like ‘It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.’

Simultaneously, he also worked on musicals like ‘The Producers,’ ‘Young Frankenstein,’ etc. and appeared on the HBO special ‘Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again.’

He also voiced ‘Vlad’ in the animated comedy film ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ in 2015. He reprised his role as ‘Vlad’ in ‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’ in 2018.

mel-brooks-37021.jpg
Awards & Achievements

Brooks received three ‘Grammys’ for ‘The 2000 Year Old Man,’ ‘The Producers,’ and ‘Recording the Producers.’ He received his first four ‘Emmys’ for ‘Your Show of Shows.’ He received three ‘Emmys’ for the sitcom ‘Mad About You.’

He received three ‘Tony Awards’ for ‘The Producers.’ He won a ‘Hugo Award’ and ‘Nebula Award’ for ‘Young Frankenstein.’ He received a star on ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ in 2010. After a few years, he received the ‘AFI Life Achievement Award.’

Continue Reading Below

He also received the prestigious ‘National Medal of Arts’ in 2016. In 2017, he was honored with a ‘BAFTA.’

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1951, brooks got married to Florence Baum and the couple had three children, namely Stephanie, Nicky, and Eddie. Their marriage ended in 1962.

He then married actress Anne Bancroft in 1964 and remained married to her until her death in 2005. They had a son named Max Brooks. Brooks credits Bancroft as an inspiration for ‘The Producers’ and ‘Young Frankenstein.’

mel-brooks-37022.jpg
Facts About Mel Brooks

He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, where he defused land mines in Europe.

Brooks is one of the few entertainers to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award, also known as an EGOT.

He is known for his comedic parodies, including "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein."

In addition to his work in film and television, Brooks has also composed music for some of his projects.

Mel Brooks Movies

1. Young Frankenstein (1974)

  (Comedy)

2. Blazing Saddles (1974)

  (Western, Comedy)

3. The Elephant Man (1980)

  (Biography, Drama)

4. The Producers (1967)

  (Comedy)

5. Ten from Your Show of Shows (1973)

  (Comedy)

6. The Muppet Movie (1979)

  (Musical, Family, Comedy, Adventure)

7. History of the World: Part I (1981)

  (Comedy)

8. My Favorite Year (1982)

  (Comedy)

9. Frances (1982)

  (Drama, Romance, Biography)

10. The Fly (1986)

  (Drama, Sci-Fi, Horror)

Awards

Academy Awards(Oscars)
1969 Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen The Producers (1967)
Primetime Emmy Awards
1999 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Mad About You (1992)
1998 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Mad About You (1992)
1997 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Mad About You (1992)
1967 Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special (1967)
Grammy Awards
2002 Best Long Form Music Video Great Performances (1971)
2002 Best Musical Show Album Winner
1999 Best Spoken Comedy Album Winner

Follow Mel Brooks On:

See the events in life of Mel Brooks in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Mel Brooks Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/melvin-kaminsky-2333.php

People Also Viewed


Timothée Chalamet Biography
Timothée Chalamet
(American)
 
Drake Bell Biography
Drake Bell
(American)
 
Robert Downey Jr. Biography
Robert Downey Jr.
(American)
 
Dwayne Johnson Biography
Dwayne Johnson
(American)
 
Jake Gyllenhaal Biography
Jake Gyllenhaal
(American)
 
Christopher Nolan Biography
Christopher Nolan
(American, British)
 
Austin Butler Biography
Austin Butler
(American)
 
Ryan Reynolds Biography
Ryan Reynolds
(American)