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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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’.
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’.