Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks
Los Angeles Times


Mel Brooks
Film: South side of the 6700 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Actor | Director | Producer | Screenwriter
Born Melvin Kaminsky on June 28, 1926 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mel Brooks is arguably one of the world's funniest men; he certainly has the Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and Grammys to prove the point.

But for him, it all started on Henry Street in Brooklyn. “I was a street-corner comic,” he told The Times in 2009. “I would comment on the goings-on in the neighborhood — 'Here comes Mrs. Bloom. Duck.' "

In the 1940s, he honed his comedic chops as a young stand-up in New York's Catskill Mountains — fertile ground for future funnymen. “I was doing the Catskill jokes, which were like 'Let me tell you about this girl I took out last night. This was a slender girl. Skinny. We're talking about a very skinny girl. I took her to a restaurant and the waiter said, 'Check your umbrella.' "

Brooks’ first foray into films was providing the witty commentary for the 1963 animated short “The Critic,” which won an Oscar. Five years later, he made his feature writing and directorial debut with “The Producers,” for which he won an Oscar for original screenplay. Over the next 30 years, he wrote and directed such comedy spoofs as “Young Frankenstein,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Silent Movie,” “High Anxiety” and “Spaceballs.”

On TV, Brooks was a writer on “Your Show of Shows” and, along with Buck Henry, created the seminal spy-spoof series “Get Smart,” but his Emmys came for writing a variety special in 1967 and his guest appearances on the show “Mad About You” in the 1990s.

Brooks also conquered Broadway with the musical version of “The Producers,” which won a dozen Tony Awards, although his follow-up, a lavish musical version of “Young Frankenstein,” didn't wow the critics.

He won Grammys for the spoken-comedy album “The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000” and two stemming from “The Producers” in 2001.

He was married to actress Anne Bancroft from 1964 until her death in 2005.

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Points of interest

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1968 Best Original Screenplay The Producers Win
    1974 Best Adapted Screenplay Young Frankenstein Nomination
    1974 Best Song "Blazing Saddles" from Blazing Saddles Nomination*
    * A joint nomination shared with other people.

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