Celebrating Mel Brooks

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Mel Brooks (Photo: HBO; used with permission)

Mel Brooks is one of just 17 artists who have earned “EGOT” status, winning an Oscar (Best Writing for The Producers), a Grammy (Best Spoken Comedy Album for The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000, Best Musical Show Album for The Producers and Best Long Form Music Video for Recording the Producers – A Musical Romp with Mel Brooks), an Emmy® (Outstanding Writing Achievement for a Sid Caesar special and three consecutive awards for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Mad About You) and a Tony (Best Musical, Best Original Musical Score and Best Book of a Musical for The Producers).

Others who have earned a rare EGOT include Andrew Lloyd Webber, Audrey Hepburn and John Legend. From the groundbreaking TV series Your Show of Shows to landmark films like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, Brooks has been one of the most influential voices in comedy.

Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky on June 28, 1926 in Brooklyn, NY. The legendary filmmaker, writer and actor was the subject of a 2019 career-spanning HBO special, Mel Brooks Unwrapped.

The HBO comedy special features the award-winner in interviews with Alan Yentob, former creative director for the BBC. Since 1981, Yentob has filmed Brooks for a number of candid conversations and mock interviews, many of which showcase a more reserved Yentob as “straight man” to Brooks’ high-energy, quick-witted, unsparingly sarcastic persona.

Mel Brooks Unwrapped also shows Yentob following Brooks in his day-to-day life, including a visit with long-time friend and collaborator Carl Reiner – who dubs Mel “the funniest human being in the world” – to share some spaghetti and meatballs and watch some iconic clips from Brooks’ 60-plus years in showbiz.

Watch the trailer for Mel Brooks Unwrapped

Among Brooks’ other classic comedy films as director, writer, producer and/or actor are History of the World Part 1, Silent Movie, Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Blazing Saddles, The Producers and Young Frankenstein all appear on the AFI’s list of Funniest American Films. Brooks co-created, with Buck Henry, the hit TV series, Get Smart.

Incredibly, both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein were released in the same year. The latter earned two Academy Award nominations, though it failed to win.

“How about some more beans, Mr. Taggart?” Watch a classic scene from Blazing Saddles

He married his second wife, actress Anne Bancroft, in 1964. She died in 2005. The pair starred together in Brooks’ 1983 film, To Be or Not To Be where they, yes, sang “Sweet Georgia Brown” in Polish.

Related: Gene Wilder, who starred in Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and The Producers, died in 2016

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner (Photo via Reiner’s Facebook page)

He and Carl Reiner formed a comedy duo in the 1950s, which notably featured The 2000 Year Old Man sketch, with Brooks as the titular character interviewed by his friend: “I have over 1500 children and not one of them ever comes to visit.”

The two widowers, both well into their nineties, had dinner together almost every night until Reiner passed in 2020.

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  1. Error:840
    #1 Error:840 6 December, 2019, 02:43

    I wish we could listen to their dinner conversation, it’s likely much funnier then dialog heard in today’s comedies.

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  2. Bargainburger
    #2 Bargainburger 29 June, 2021, 14:47

    I laugh out loud every time I think of some of the films and television he created , the stories are so over the top ! It’s a signature like no other, that’s a gigantic gift to all of us. Thank you God for Mel Brooks

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  3. mick62
    #3 mick62 1 July, 2021, 10:17

    Comedy would never have been the same without the magnificent MEL BROOKS !
    Thanks for many happy years of laughter, Mr. Brooks.
    Thank you also for ‘The Elephant Man.’

    Reply this comment
  4. T-Vine
    #4 T-Vine 28 June, 2022, 20:48

    The Producers was so funny, I laughed until my jaw hurt.

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