Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks, birthname Melvin Kaminsky, is an American actor, comedian, film producer, director, and screenwriter. He is most renowned for his broad film farces and humorous parodies, which he has created during a seven-decade career. Brooks began his career on Sid Caesar's variety show Your Show of Shows (1950–1954), where Brooks worked alongside Woody Allen, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart as a comic and writer. He co-created the comic character The 2000 Year Old Man with Carl Reiner. From 1965 to 1970, he co-wrote the hit television comedy series Get Smart with Buck Henry.

Related Biography: Heath Ledger

Background and Education

Brooks grew up in Williamsburg and was born as Melvin Kaminsky on June 28, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York, to Max and Kate Kaminsky. His father's family were German Jews from Danzig, and his mother's family were Jews from Kyiv, in the Russian Empire's Pale of Settlement (now Ukraine). He had three older brothers: Irving, Lenny, and Bernie. Brooks' father died of kidney disease at the age of 34 when Brooks was two years old.

Brooks was a tiny, sickly youngster who was frequently tormented and teased by his classmates because of his stature. Brooks witnessed Anything Goes with William Gaxton, Ethel Merman, and Victor Moore at the Alvin Theater when he was nine years old with his uncle Joe, a taxi driver. The latter brought the Broadway doormen back to Brooklyn for free and was given the tickets as a thank you. After the show, he told his uncle that he would not work in the garment district like everyone else but was going into show business instead.

Brooks started working as a pool tummler when he was 14 years old. Brooks' outrageous antics kept his visitors entertained. Brooks explained in a Playboy interview that one day he stood on the edge of a diving board wearing a large overcoat and two suitcases full of rocks and exclaimed, "Business is terrible! I can't go on!" before jumping clothed into the pool. He was taught to play the drums by Buddy Rich (who had also grown up in Williamsburg) when he was 14. After being confused with trumpeter Max Kaminsky in his teens, Melvyn Kaminsky changed his name to Mel Brooks, influenced by his mother's maiden name Brookman.

Brooks attended Eastern District High School and Brooklyn College for a year, where he studied psychology.

Early Career

After the war, his mother had obtained him a position as a clerk at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but Brooks "hopped into a taxi and told the driver to take him to the Catskills," where he started working in various Borscht Belt resorts and nightclubs in the Catskill Mountains as a drummer and pianist. Brooks began working as a stand-up comedian after a regular comic at one of the nightclubs became ill and was unable to perform one night. He spoke jokes and imitated movie stars. He also performed some radio work and began acting in summer stock in Red Bank, New Jersey. He finally rose through the ranks at Grossinger's, one of the Borscht Belt's most famous resorts, to the humorously aggressive position of tummler (master entertainment). Brooks found more fulfilling work behind the scenes as a television comedy writer. Brooks was hired to write jokes for the DuMont/NBC series The Admiral Broadway Revue in 1949 by his buddy Sid Caesar, who paid him $50 per week.

Personal Life

From 1953 until 1962, Brooks was married to Florence Baum (1926–2008), with whom he divorced. Brooks married Anne Bancroft, a stage, film, and television actress, in 1964, and they remained together until she died in 2005. They met at a rehearsal for the Perry Como Variety Show in 1961 and were married three years later on August 5, 1964, at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau.

According to Brooks, Bancroft was "the guiding force" behind Brooks' involvement in developing The Producers and Young Frankenstein for the musical theatre, who said of an early meeting with her, "From that day until her death... we were welded together."

Brooks had this to say about religion:

"I'm rather secular. I'm Jewish," she says, "but I don't think I'm Jewish because of the Jewish religion; I think it's because of my relationship with the people and the pride I feel for the tribe, which has survived so many misfortunes and contributed so much knowledge to the world and shown courage."

Brooks endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race in his first-ever public endorsement of a political candidate.

Quick Facts
Birth Date: 28 Jun, 1926
Age: 93 yrs
Citizenship: United States of America
Birth Place: Brooklyn
residence: Fire Island
Gender: Male
Description: American director, writer, actor, and producer
Twitter Id: MelBrooks
Spouse: Anne Bancroft[1964-2005]
Net Worth 2021: 100 million
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Last Modified: Feb 19 2023
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