Mel Brooks is an American actor, writer
director, and theatrical producer best known as a creator
of broad film farces and parodies.
Born Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn, New York, Brooks
served in the US Army during World War II as an engineer.
He started out in show business as a stand-up comic
before becoming a comedy writer for television, working
on Your Show of Shows. In 1961, with Carl Reiner, he
created the persona of the 2000 Year Old Man, a collection
of ad libbed comedy routines made into a series of
comedy records. With Buck Henry, he created the successful
TV series Get Smart.
He later moved into film, working as an actor, director,
writer and producer. Among his most popular films have
been Young Frankenstein (co-written with Gene Wilder)
and Blazing Saddles (co-written with Richard Pryor),
both of which were released in 1974. Brooks developed
a repertory company of sorts for his film work: performers
with three or more Brooks films to their credit include
Wilder, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman,
Cloris Leachman and, of course, Brooks himself.
In 1980 Brooks became interested in producing the
film "The Elephant Man" directed by David
Lynch. Knowing that anyone seeing the poster with "Mel
Brooks presents The Elephant Man" would go along
expecting a comedy, he set up the company Brooksfilm
to produce the film. Brooksfilm has since produced
a number of non-comedy films, including David Cronenberg's
The Fly (1986), Frances, and 84 Charing Cross Road,
starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft, as well
as comedies, including Richard Benjamin's My Favorite
Brooks' most recent success has been a transfer of
his film The Producers to the Broadway stage. He is
currently working on a sequel to his 1987 hit Spaceballs,
a parody of the Star Wars films.
Brooks is one of a select group who have received
an Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy. In a 2005 poll to
find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted #50 of the
top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy
insiders. Three of Brooks' films are on the American
Film Institute's list of funniest American films: Blazing
Saddles (#6), The Producers (#11), and Young Frankenstein
He was married to the actress Anne Bancroft from
1964 until her death June 6, 2005. They met on rehearsal
for the Perry Como variety show in 1961 and married
3 years later, August 5th. They had one son Maximillian
in 1972. They were seen on the screen twice together:
Brook's 1983 remake of To Be or Not to Be and in his
1976 Silent Movie. It is reported that Bancroft encouraged
Brooks to take The Producers to Broadway. Previously,
Brooks was married to Florence Baum from 1951 to 1961.
Their marriage ended in divorce. Mel and Florence had
three children, Stefanie, Nicky, and Eddie.