The following biography
Mel Brooks (born June 28, 1926 as Melvin
Kaminsky) is an Academy Award-winning American actor, writer, director,
and producer best known as a creator of broad film farces and comedy
parodies, or as he says, "spoofs."
Born Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn, New York
to Russian-Jewish parents Maximillian Kaminsky and Kate "Kittie"
Brookman. Brooks's grandfather, Abraham Kominsky, was a herring dealer
who immigrated in 1893. He and his wife Bertha raised their ten children
on Henry St. on the Lower East Side in New York City. Brooks's father,
Max, was their second child.
When Brooks was only two and a half years
old, his father died of a kidney disease at age 34. A year later, in
1930, Kittie Kaminsky and her sons Irving, Leonard, Bernard and Melvin
were living at 365 S. 3rd St. in the Williamsburg neighborhood of
Brooks graduated from Abraham Lincoln High
School before serving in the US Army during World War II as an engineer,
stationed in North Africa.
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. In 1975, Brooks created When Things Were
Rotten, a Robin Hood parody that lasted only 13 episodes; nearly 20
years later, Brooks mounted another Robin Hood parody with Robin Hood:
Men in Tights.
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 Gene
Wilder, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Ron
Carey and Andréas Voutsinas. Dom Deluise has appeared in six of Brooks'
12 films; only one person has more appearances than Deluise and that is
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
Brooksfilms to produce the film. Brooksfilms has since produced a number
of non-comedy films, including David Cronenberg's The Fly, Frances, and
84 Charing Cross Road, starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft, as
well as comedies, including Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year.
Brooks' most recent success has been a
transfer of his film The Producers to the Broadway stage. Brooks also
had a vocal role in the 2005 animated film Robots. He is currently
working on an animated series sequel to his 1987 hit Spaceballs, a
parody of the Star Wars and Star Trek series, expected to premiere in
Brooks is one of a selected 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 (#13).
Brooks and wife Anne Bancroft worked
together on three films: Silent Movie (1976), his remake of To Be or Not
to Be (1983), and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995 ). Years later, they
appeared as themselves in the fourth season finale of Curb Your
Enthusiasm, spoofing the finale of The Producers. It is reported that
Bancroft encouraged Brooks to take The Producers to Broadway where it
became an enormous success, as the show broke the Tony record with 12
wins, a record that had previously been held for 37 years by Hello,
Dolly! at 10 wins. Such success has translated to a big screen version
of the Broadway adaptation/remake with actors Matthew Broderick and
Nathan Lane reprising their stage roles, in addition to new cast members
Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell. As of early April 2006, Brooks had begun
composing the score to a Broadway musical adaptation of Young
Frankenstein, which he says is "perhaps the best movie [he] ever made."
No deadline has been set for the work's completion, but after it is
finished Brooks will begin fundraising and production. 
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. More famously, he was
married to the actress Anne Bancroft from 1964 until her death on June
6, 2005. They met on rehearsal for the Perry Como variety show in 1961
and married three years later, August 5th. They had one son,
Maximillian, in 1972.
The Producers (1968) Academy Award, best
The Twelve Chairs (1970) (also actor)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Blazing Saddles (1974) (also actor)
Silent Movie (1976) (also actor)
High Anxiety (1978) (also actor)
History of the World, Part I (1981) (also
Spaceballs (1987) (also actor/producer)
Life Stinks (1991) (also actor/producer)
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) (also
Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) (also
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
(voice, Santa Claus)
The Producers (2001) (composer, lyricist,
co-book-writer, producer; Tony Award for Best Musical, Tony Award for
Best Book of a Musical,Tony Award for Best Original Score)
All-American (1962) (book-writer)
Shinbone Alley (1957) (co-book-writer)
Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952 (1952)
(sketches for a revue)
Your Show of Shows (TV) (1950 - 1954)
Get Smart (TV) (1965 - 1970) (co-creator,
Robots (2005) (voice)
The Producers (2005) (writer, producer)
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 4 (actor)
Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks
(2003-present) (voice of Wiley the Sheep)
To Be or Not to Be (1983) (actor)
The Fly (1986) (producer) (horror)
The Fly II (1989) (producer) (horror)
"The Elephant Man (film)" (1980) (executive
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is
when you fall into an open sewer and die."
"If God wanted us to fly, He would have
given us tickets."
"Humor is just another defense against the
Chorus: "Hope for the best. Expect the
worst. / Life is a play. We're unrehearsed."
Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel): "That's it,
baby, when you've got it, flaunt it, flaunt it!"
Stormtrooper Mel (Mel Brooks): "Don't be
stupid, be a smarty / Come and join the Nazi Party!"
LSD as Adolf Hitler (Dick Shawn): "Heil
Lead Tenor Stormtrooper (John Barrowman):
"Springtime, for Hitler, and Germany / Winter, for Poland and France!"
Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel): ":How could
this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong
director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?"
Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder): "Actors are not
animals! They're human beings!"
Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel): "They are?
Have you ever eaten with one?"
Jim "The Waco Kid" (Gene Wilder): "My name
is Jim, most people call me... Jim."
Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little): "Mornin',
ma'am! And isn't it a lovely mornin'?"
Old Woman: "Up yours, nigger!"
Jim "The Waco Kid" (Gene Wilder) [consoling
Bart afterwards]: "What did you expect? 'Welcome, sonny'? 'Make yourself
at home'? 'Marry my daughter'? You've got to remember that these are
just simple farmers... these are people of the land... the common clay
of the New West. You know – morons."
Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little):"Excuse me
while I whip this out."
Igor (Marty Feldman): "My grandfather used
to work for your grandfather. Of course the rates have gone up."
Igor (Marty Feldman) (limping off): "Walk
this way" - and Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) limps off after him.
Dr. Frankenstein: (Gene Wilder): "Igor,
would you give me a hand with the bags?"
Igor: (Marty Feldman): "[doing a Groucho
Marx] Certainly, you take the blonde and I'll take the one in the
Igor: (Marty Feldman): "Sed-a..."
Inga: (Teri Garr): "Sed-a..."
Igor: (Marty Feldman): "Dirty word! He said
a dirty word!"
History of the World, Part I
Josephus (Gregory Hines): "I'm Josephus,
and I'm the main course over at the Colosseum!"
Count de Monet (Harvey Korman)
[consistently mispronounced as "money"]: "Bearnaise, do we have any of
those delicious raisins left?"
Bearnaise (Andréas Voutsinas) : "You ate
yours. These are mine."
Count de Monet: "Au contraire, they are
mine! I paid for them! Hand them over!"
Bearnaise [sotto voce, mimicking]: "'I paid
for them! They're mine!'" [Blows a raspberry]
Count de Monet: "Don't get saucy with me,
Count de Monet: "It is said that the people
King Louis XVI (Mel Brooks): "You said it.
They stink on ice."
Impoverished Paris Street Merchant (Jack
Carter): "Rats, rats for sale. Get your rats. Good for rat stew, rat
soup, or the ever-popular ratatouille."
Other Street Merchant:"Nothing, I have
absolutely nothing for sale!"
King Louis XVI [prior to his arrest]: "It's
good to be the king. (Also used in Robin Hood- Men In Tights)"
Tomás de Torquemada: "It's better to lose
your skullcap than your skull."
Moses (Mel Brooks): "God has given us these
fifteen- (after dropping one of the tablets) ten-ten commandments!"
Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis): "I see your
schwartz is as big as mine."
Radar Officer (Michael Winslow): "I've lost
the sweeps, the bleeps, and the creeps!" [Explains via vocal sound
Dark Helmet [aside to Colonel Sandurz]:
"That's not all he's lost."
Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis): "What? You went
over my helmet?"
President Skroob (Mel Brooks): "What the
hell, it works on Star Trek!"
Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis): "What's the
matter Colonel Sandurz... chicken?!"
Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis): "I knew it, I'm
surrounded by assholes."
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Ahchoo (Dave Chappelle): "Man, white men
King Richard (Patrick Stewart): "From this
day forward, all toilets in this kingdom shall be known as...'John's'!"
Little John: "Let's face it - you've got to
be a man to wear tights!"
Man In Front of Castle: "Hey Abbot!"
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