Here’s a look at the life of comedian, actor, director, producer, playwright and screenwriter Mel Brooks, best known for comedic farces such as “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Spaceballs.”
Birth date: June 28, 1926
Birth place: Brooklyn, New York
Birth name: Melvin James Kaminsky
Father: Max Kaminsky, a process server
Mother: Kate (Brookman) Kaminsky
Marriages: Anne Bancroft (1964-2005, her death); Florence Baum (unavailable publicly-1962, divorced)
Children: with Anne Bancroft: Max; with Florence Baum: Stefanie, Nicky and Eddie
Education: Attended Virginia Military Institute as part of his Army training
Military: US Army, 1944-1945, Corporal
Brooks adopted the last name, “Brooks” from his mother’s maiden name, “Brookman.”
His parents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Brooks is one of an elite few known as EGOT winners. They have all won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award.
His second wife, actress Anne Bancroft, was almost an EGOT winner herself. She collected Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards before her death from cancer in 2005.
Nominated for three Academy Award and won one.
Nominated for three Tony Awards and won three.
Nominated for 10 Grammy Awards and won three.
Brooks learned how to play the drums in his youth from famous jazz musician Buddy Rich.
Brooks makes appearances in his own films as an actor and an occasional voice-over artist. He played character roles in “Blazing Saddles,” “High Anxiety,” “Spaceballs” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.”
1944-1945 - Serves in the US Army as a combat engineer during World War II.
1949-1958 - Begins his career as a comedy writer in television and theatre, writing for “Broadway Revue,” “Your Show of Shows,” “Caesar’s Hour,” “Sid Caesar Invites You,” along with “All American” and “Shinbone Alley.” During his time with “Your Show of Shows,” he works with Neil Simon and Carl Reiner. Reiner and Brooks share a lifelong friendship and partnership.
1960 - Brooks and Reiner release the comedy album, “The 2,000-Year-Old Man.” The hit spawns four follow-up albums, an animated TV special and several books.
1965-1970 - Teams up with writer Buck Henry to create the hit television comedy, “Get Smart.”
June 4, 1967 - Receives his first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety, for “The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris Special.”
November 1968 - “The Producers” is released in theaters, making it the first motion picture Brooks wrote and directed independently.
April 14, 1969 - Wins an Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, for “The Producers.”
1974 - Forms the production company, “Brooksfilms.” “Coming Attractions” is the company’s first film, and “Fatso,” “The Elephant Man,” “History of the World: Part I,” “To Be or Not to Be” and “The Fly” follow.
1997-1999 - Wins three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, for “Mad About You.”
February 24, 1999 - Brooks and Reiner win the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Comedy Album, for “The 2,000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000.”
April 19, 2001 - Opening night of “The Producers” on Broadway. The production adapted from Brooks’ 1968 film goes on to win a total of 12 Tony Awards.
June 3, 2001 - Brooks wins three Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical, for “The Producers.”
February 27, 2002 - Receives two Grammy Awards: Best Long Form Music Video category, for “Recording ‘The Producers: A Musical Romp with Mel Brooks’” shared with Susan Froemke and Peter Gelb, and for “The Producers” in the Best Musical Show Album category.
November 8, 2007 - “Young Frankenstein” premieres on Broadway, making it the second musical adaptation of one of his films.
December 29, 2009 - Receives the Kennedy Center Honors.
April 23, 2010 - Receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
June 6, 2013 - Recipient of the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.