Mel Brooks Biography

Known as the king of farces and comic parodies, Mel Brooks is a famous American film director, comedian, actor, producer and composer. This biography provides detailed information on his childhood, life, career, works, achievements & timeline.

Mel Brooks
Quick Facts

Birthday: June 28, 1926

Nationality: American

Famous: Jewish Actors Jewish Comedians

Age: 92 Years, 92 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Melvin James Kaminsky

Born in: Brooklyn, New York, U. S.

Famous as: American Film Director, Comedian, Actor & Producer

Height: 1.65 m

Family:

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

father: James Kaminsky

mother: Kate (née Brookman)

siblings: Bernie, Irving, Lenny

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

U.S. State: New Yorkers

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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 for sometime but later started to play piano and perform stand-up comedy acts in Borscht Belt resorts. From there on his talent for comedy was recognized and he was hired to write for the comedy series ‘Your Show of the Shows’. Brooks did writing for many sitcoms during the early creative period of his life and once he was quite settled with Hollywood and fame, he ventured into directing movies, like: ‘The Producers’, ‘Young Frankenstein’, ‘The Twelve Chairs’, etc. He started his own production company under the name of ‘Brooksfilms’ and produced a number of non comedy films. He also produced, wrote and directed many Broadway musicals. He is one of the few artists in Hollywood who has received Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards. He recently received AFI Life Achievement Award and three of his films are ranked in the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 comedy films of all-time.

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Mel Brooks
Childhood & Early Life
  • Mel Brooks was born in Brooklyn, New York, to James and Kate Kaminsky. He belonged to a Jewish household and had three older brothers Irving, Lenny and Bernie. His father died of a Kidney disease when Brooks was only 2.
  • Brooks used to get bullied by other boys when he was young as he was of a small built. He went to Abraham Lincoln High School and attended Eastern District High School and Brooklyn College. He learnt drums from Buddy Rich at school.
  • He went to the Army Specialized Training Program at the Virginia Military Institute and served in the US Army as a corporal at the time of World War II. He later returned to work at resorts in the Catskill Mountains for some time.
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Career
  • After his stint in the World War II, Brooks played piano at the Borscht Belt resorts and started working as a stand-up comedian and did some comic radio work as well. He eventually became the master entertainer at the Grossinger’s.
  • 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 a sum of 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. It was an instant hit and it ran for 4 years.
  • In 1954, Brooks wrote for another of Caesar’s shows called ‘Caesar’s Hour’ along with the same writing cast from ‘You Show of Shows’. It ran for 3 years and by the end of it Brooks wrote ‘Shinbone Alley’, his first Broadway musical.
  • In the late 1950s, Brook 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 1960-1962, Brooks and Reiner expanded the ‘2000 Year Old Man’ and took it to Hollywood and began performing it on ‘The Steve Allen Show’. They release a comedy album ‘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.
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  • 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 in the category for Animated Short Film.
  • From 1965-1970, ‘Get Smart’, a comedy series created by Brooks and Buck Henry, ran on the American television. It was a comedy series based on a clumsy spy who is inspired by James Bond. It received 7 Emmys in total.
  • In 1968, 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 gather any 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 of the movie and it was called ‘Blazing Saddles’. It was the 2nd highest grossing film of that year.
  • In 1974, ‘Young Frankenstein’ came out. It starred Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, etc. and had Gene Hackman in an unforgettable cameo. It was the 3rd highest grossing film of that year and received 2 Oscar nominations.
  • In 1975, Brooks went back to the 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 only for 13 episodes.
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  • In 1976, he released ‘Silent Movie’, an idea written and developed along with Ron Clark. It was a 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., called ‘High Anxiety’. It was a joint written collaboration of Brooks, Ron Clark, Rudy De Luca and Barry Levinson.
  • In 1980, Brooks produced ‘The Elephant Man’. It was directed by David Lynch. It was produced under the name of the company called ‘Brooksfilms’, a production company that only produced 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 French Revolution. It received mixed reviews and was a moderate commercial hit.
  • In 1983, Brooks produced and starred in the remake of Ernst Lubitsch 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 1987-1989, Brooks directed a comedy science fiction ‘Spaceballs’. He also made a sitcom called ‘The Nutt House’ which was broadcast on NBC. The series only ran for 5-11 episodes and did not do very well commercially.
  • In 1990s, Brooks directed movies like: ‘Life Stinks’ which was 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’.
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  • In 2000s, he appeared on the TV in ‘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’, etc.
  • Alongside, he worked on musicals like ‘The Producers’, ‘Young Frankenstein’, etc. and appeared on the HBO special called ‘Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again’.
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Awards & Achievements
  • Brooks received 3 Grammys for ‘The 2000 Year Old Man’, ‘The Producers’ and ‘Recording the Producers’. He received his first 4 Emmys for ‘Your Show of Shows’ and received 3 Emmy for the sitcom ‘Mad About You’.
  • He is the winner of 3 Tony Awards for ‘The Producers’ and a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award for ‘Young Frankenstein’. He received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010 and after a few years received the AFI Life Achievement Award.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • In 1951, brooks got married to Florence Baum and the couple had three children together, Stephaine, Nicky and Eddie. Their marriage ended within 10 years.
  • He married actress Anne Bancroft in 1964 and remained married to her until her death in 2005. They had a son together, Max Brooks. Bancroft had been Brooks’ inspiration behind ‘The Producers’ and ‘Young Frankenstein’.
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Trivia
  • Brooks wrote an adaptation of Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ but could not get anyone to finance his idea and thought at the time that his career was over.
  • At the age of 55, Brooks recorded a rap titled ‘It’s Good to Be the King’.
  • He received the Kennedy Center Honors 2009 for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
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1. Young Frankenstein (1974)

  (Comedy)

2. Blazing Saddles (1974)

  (Western, Comedy)


3. The Elephant Man (1980)

  (Biography, Drama)

4. Ten from Your Show of Shows (1973)

  (Comedy)



5. The Producers (1967)

  (Comedy)

6. The Muppet Movie (1979)

  (Musical, Family, Comedy, Adventure)




7. My Favorite Year (1982)

  (Comedy)

8. Frances (1982)

  (Drama, Romance, Biography)





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)
1999 Best Spoken Comedy Album Winner

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
Last Updated
- July 31, 2017
Mel Brooks

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