"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."

Happy birthday Mel Brooks!

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Mel Brooks (born June 28, 1926) is an American film producer, director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, and actor. He is credited with the films The Producers (1968), Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), History of the World - Part 1 (1981), and many others. He got his start as part of a comedy duo with Carl Reiner. Brooks is one of the few people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony (EGOT).

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Brooks was born Melvin James Kaminsky to James Kaminsky and Kate Brookman in Brooklyn, New York. His father died abruptly at the age of 34 due to kidney disease.

In his youth, he became a neighborhood jokester, also learning to play the drums. After attending Brooklyn College for one year, he was drafted to serve in World War II. When he returned he began appearing in various clubs and resorts in the Catskills, playing piano and drums.

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When one of the regular comics was sick one night, Brooks began doing stand up. Soon, he was the main entertainer at Grossingers, one of the Catskills' most popular resorts.

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In 1949, Brooks partnered with Sid Caesar as a writer on The Admiral Broadway Revue. Then, in 1950, he worked with Carl Reiner to create the skit, the "2000 Year Old Man."

 

Throughout the first half of the 1960s, Brooks found success in his television series, Get Smart. The latter half of the decade saw his entry into film. After winning an Academy Award for his animated short, The Critic, Brooks released his first feature-length film, The Producers (1968). Though the film did not immediately do well at the box office, it did win the 1969 Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

 

Brooks took time to direct and write before his biggest success to date came in 1974. His 1974 film, Blazing Saddles, earned almost $120 million in the United States alone. Later that year, he released Young Frankenstein, starring Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman and Peter Boyle.

Other films by Mel Brooks include Silent Movie (1976), High Anxiety (1977), History of the World - Part 1 (1981), Spaceballs (1987), Life Stinks (1991), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995).

 

Brooks was married to Anne Bancroft for more than four decades, and their son is the author of The Zombie Survival Guide series and World War Z.

Brooks continues to work. The past decade has seen The Producers become a an award-winning Broadway musical and the creation of the musical version of Young Frankenstein.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 28 June 2014
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