- Title: 'The Producer' Mel Brooks turns 95 on June 28
- Date: 26th June 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - FEBRUARY 12, 2017) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** ACTOR, COMEDIAN, PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR MEL BROOKS POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS ON THE RED CARPET AT THE BRITISH ACADEMY OF FILM AND TELEVISION ARTS (BAFTA) AWARD CEREMONY VARIOUS OF EXTERIOR OF GROSVENOR HOUSE WHERE THE 2017 BAFTAS WINNERS PARTY IS BEING HELD ACTOR MEL BROOKS ARRIVING AND POSING FOR PHOTOS WITH HIS BAFTA FILM AWARD (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR, MEL BROOKS, SAYING: "I have a cabinet and, as soon as it's filled, it all goes to eBay. Let's see what we get out of it. No, but I cherish this because I'm an American and it was damned decent of Bafta - when there are so many wonderful English artists that should, I hope, will receive it. But to think of me is wonderful. It's very touching, really." BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (FILE - MAY 17, 2017) (REUTERS) CAMERAMAN ACTOR, COMEDIAN AND DIRECTOR MEL BROOKS POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS AND MEDIA ON RED CARPET FOR NEW HBO DOCUMENTARY, "IF YOU'RE NOT IN THE OBIT, EAT BREAKFAST", WIDE OF CARPET WITH ACTOR DICK VAN DYKE SPEAKING TO REPORTER MEL BROOKS POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS CARPET WITH AMERICAN TV WRITER AND PRODUCER, NORMAN LEAR (CENTRE IN WHITE HAT) AND AMERICAN TALENT MANAGER AND TELEVISION PRODUCER, GEORGE SHAPIRO (FAR RIGHT) SPEAKING TO REPORTERS LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (FILE - APRIL 26, 2018) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MEL BROOKS SPEAKING TO REPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR, MEL BROOKS ON THE FILM BEING SCREENED HALF A CENTURY AFTER ITS RELEASE, SAYING: "I was hoping for a week and a half. I never thought that 50 years later... you know, what's thrilling about tonight is that we're going to see it on a giant, on a screen, we're not going to watch 'The Producers' on our watch like you can see it today." MEL BROOKS TALKING TO MEDIA (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR, MEL BROOKS ON 'SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER' IN THE MOVIE, SAYING: "I had to write a thousand letters to a thousand Rabbis explaining that if you get on a soapbox with Hitler you can't win but if you can make fun of him, make him ludicrous, reduce him to laughter you can win." VARIOUS OF MEL BROOKS TALKING TO PEOPLE ON THE CARPET (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR, MEL BROOKS ON LATE GENE WILDER, SAYING: "Well he was in all my movies, you know? Every time I made a movie, the first guys I thought of was Gene Wilder. he could do anything. He was a terrific, I mean really a terrific serious actor as well as a born comedian." VARIOUS OF "THE PRODUCER" SIGNAGE AT THE PREMIERE NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - APRIL 19, 2001) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS) "THE PRODUCERS" MARQUEE SIGN OUTSIDE THE ST. JAMES THEATRE CROWD OUTSIDE THE THEATRE MEDIA ON RED CARPET (SOUNDBITE) (English) MONTY PYTHON ACTOR, ERIC IDLE, ACTOR, ON BEING ASKED BY REPORTER (English) "How big a Mel Brooks fan are you?", SAYING: "About this high, thank you, there are no small Mel Brooks fans apart from Woody Allen, he's wonderful, he's just great, I love "The Producers" is one of the most funny movies ever made so this is going to be one of the funniest musicals ever made." LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (FILE - SEPTEMBER 8, 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MEL BROOKS SIGNING HIS NAME IN CEMENT AT TCL CHINESE THEATRE PAN FROM MEDIA TO WIDE OF MEL BROOKS VARIOUS OF MEL BROOKS PRESSING HIS HANDS INTO CEMENT MEL BROOKS HOLDS UP HANDS AFTER PRESSING THEM INTO CEMENT, WITH SIXTH FINGER PROSTHESIS ON LEFT HAND VARIOUS OF MEL BROOKS STANDING ON CEMENT AND PRESSING SHOES INTO CEMENT MEL BROOKS USING A HAIR COMB AS PROP FOR MOCK HITLER SALUTE FROM FILM "THE PRODUCERS" WORKER REFINING CEMENT WITH PAN TO MEL BROOKS SPEAKING WITH REPORTER (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR, COMEDIAN, DIRECTOR MEL BROOKS, ON SIX FINGER GAG, SAYING: "I decided to pep it up a little bit, do something different in the forecourt, here in the cement, so I put an extra finger on my left hand, just in case somebody from Des Moines, Iowa says 'Harry, Harry, look, Mel Brooks had six fingers on his left hand!' Anyway, it's my job to make people laugh, and I hope this peps up the cement business here at Grauman's Chinese." BROOKS (C) WITH TELEVISION WRITER AND SHOW CREATOR NORMAN LEAR (L), AND ACTOR/DIRECTOR/WRITER CARL REINER (R) POSING FOR PICTURES VARIOUS OF SIX FINGER HAND, FEET AND SIGNATURE IN CEMENT LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (FILE - APRIL 23, 2010) (REUTERS) UNVEILING OF MEL BROOKS' STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME VARIOUS OF BROOKS POSING WITH STAR LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (FILE - JUNE 6, 2013) (REUTERS) MEL BROOKS POSING IN FRONT OF A POSTER OF HIMSELF AND JOKING WITH PHOTOGRAPHER, AFTER ARRIVING TO RECEIVE THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE'S LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD BROOKS WITH ACTOR AND COMEDIAN BILLY CRYSTAL (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR AND COMEDIAN, BILLY CRYSTAL, ON WHY HE IS THERE TO SUPPORT BROOKS, SAYING: "So, that's why. His movies are hilarious. Everything he's done, he's been a real contributor to American humor for a long time." BROOKS ON RED CARPET
- Embargoed: 10th July 2021 07:23
- Keywords: Billy Crystal Eric Idle Mel Brooks The Producers actor comedian director
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM/ WASHINGTON D.C., NEW YORK, NEW YORK, AND BEVERLY HILLS, CULVER CITY AND LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM/ WASHINGTON D.C., NEW YORK, NEW YORK, AND BEVERLY HILLS, CULVER CITY AND LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Celebrities,Arts/Culture/Entertainment,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA001EIXL4R1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Mel Brooks, who unleashed his skewed sense of humor in genre-spoofing films such as "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein" and the Broadway and movie versions of "The Producers," turns 95 on Monday (June 28).
The actor, writer, producer, director and comedian is one of the few people who has achieved an EGOT: won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.
Brooks has a sense of humor that ranges from simple to silly to crass. He attributes it to his Jewish heritage and his own fears and insecurities.
"Look at Jewish history," he once said. "Unrelieved lamenting would be intolerable. So, for every 10 Jews beating their breasts, God designated one to be crazy and amuse the breast-beaters."
By the time he was 5, Brooks said, he knew he was one of the crazies.
He started in show business as a writer on Sid Caesar's landmark television series "Your Show of Shows" in the 1950s. There he worked with Carl Reiner, a collaboration that led to the hit comedy record "The 2,000-Year-Old Man" in the 1960s and a friendship that lasted through seven decades.
Brooks and Reiner, who died at age 98 in June 2020, remained close into their late 90s with Reiner telling USA Today in 2019 that they got together regularly to watch game shows and movies.
Brooks co-created the hit TV show "Get Smart," a spoof of the James Bond movies and in the 1970s he concentrated on movies. Often appearing in his films, Brooks directed and wrote such popular 1970s farces as "Blazing Saddles," "Silent Movie," "High Anxiety" and "Young Frankenstein."
Time magazine called Brooks' films "collages of chaos seemingly cut out by some giant pair of deranged scissors, pitiless assemblages of sight gags, smart cracks and terrible puns."
Gene Wilder, who appeared in several Brooks films, said, "What Mel wants to do is set off atom bombs of laughter."
Brooks won his Oscar for the screenplay for himself for the 1968 film "The Producers," a cult comedy classic that included a Busby Berkeley-style chorus line of Nazi soldiers singing "Springtime for Hitler." It starred Wilder and Zero Mostel in the story of an accountant and a producer who want to stage a flop play in order to get a tax write-off. Although initially scorned, the film built a cult following.
"The Producers" eventually became a Broadway play but was far from a flop in its six-year run, winning 12 Tony Awards, including three for Brooks, in 2001. It was made into a movie again in 2005.
Brooks won Grammys for the comedy recording "The 2,000-Year-Old Man" and music from the stage version of "The Producers." He also won Emmys in 1997, 1998 and 1999 for a recurring role in the television sitcom "Mad About You."
Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky in the New York borough of Brooklyn on June 28, 1926. He had a ready audience - his Russian immigrant mother and three older brothers - as he tried to keep his impoverished family amused, especially after the early death of his father.
At 16, he became a drummer at Jewish mountain resorts in New York State known as the "Borscht Belt." He changed his name to Brooks, a shortened version of Brookman, his mother's maiden name, and began performing comedy. After World War Two army service, Brooks went to work for Caesar.
In 1974 he made "Blazing Saddles," a parody of Westerns about a Black sheriff and a drunken gunfighter who overcome prejudice and corruption amid non-stop jokes featuring flatulence and a horse being punched out. Brooks, who played a Yiddish-speaking Indian chief in the movie, said it never could have been made in the current era of political correctness.
He moved on to spoof horror films with "Young Frankenstein" and silent films in "Silent Movie," which featured only one spoken word ("No!" from mime Marcel Marceau.)
In 1981, Brooks directed and starred in "The History of the World, Part I." He joined wife Anne Bancroft in 1983 in "To Be or Not To Be," and in 1987 he directed a space epic parody "Spaceballs."
In 2015 HBO aired his one-man show, which Brooks called an "introspective retrospective" about his career, and he took the show to London in March of that year.
In 1954, Brooks married Broadway dancer Florence Baum, with whom he had three children before a 1962 divorce. Two years later, he married Bancroft - who once described him as "a strange combination of the serf and the intellectual" - and they had one son. Bancroft died from cancer in 2005.
(Production: Lisa Giles-Keddie, Bill Trott)
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