Mel Brooks (born Melvin Kaminsky, June 28, 1926) is an American filmmaker, actor, comedian, and composer. He is known as a creator of broad film farces and comedic parodies. Brooks began his career as a comic and a writer for the early TV variety show Your Show of Shows. He created, with Buck Henry, the hit television comedy series Get Smart, which ran from 1965 to 1970.
In middle age, Brooks became one of the most successful film directors of the 1970s, with many of his films being among the top 10 moneymakers of the year they were released. His best-known films include The Producers (1967), The Twelve Chairs (1970), Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (also 1974), Silent Movie (1976), High Anxiety (1977), History of the World, Part I (1981), Spaceballs (1987) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). A musical adaptation of his first film, The Producers, ran on Broadway, from 2001 to 2007.
In 2001, having previously won an Emmy, a Grammy and an Oscar, he joined a small list of EGOT winners with his Tony Award for The Producers. He received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2009, a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2010, the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award in June 2013, a British Film Institute Fellowship in March 2015, a National Medal of Arts in September 2016, and a BAFTA Fellowship in February 2017. Three of his films ranked in the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 comedy films of the past 100 years (1900–2000), all of which ranked in the top 15 of the list: Blazing Saddles at number 6, The Producers at number 11, and Young Frankenstein at number 13.
Brooks was married to the actress Anne Bancroft from 1964 until her death in 2005. Their son Max Brooks is an actor and author, known for his novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006).
Brooks receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 23, 2010
June 28, 1926
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Brooklyn College|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, composer, filmmaker|
|Children||4; including Max Brooks|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1944–1946|
|Unit||1104 Engineer Combat Battalion, 78th Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||Battle of the Bulge|
Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky on June 28, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York, to Max (1895-1929) and Kate (née Brookman) Kaminsky (1896-1989), and grew up in Williamsburg. His father's family were German Jews from Danzig (present-day Gdańsk, Poland); his mother's family were Jews from Kiev, in the Pale of Settlement of the Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine). He had three older brothers: Irving, Lenny, and Bernie. Brooks' father died of kidney disease at 34 when Brooks was 2 years old. He has said of his father's death, "There's an outrage there. I may be angry at God, or at the world, for that. And I'm sure a lot of my comedy is based on anger and hostility. Growing up in Williamsburg, I learned to clothe it in comedy to spare myself problems—like a punch in the face."
Brooks was a small, sickly boy who often was bullied and teased by his classmates because of his size. He grew up in tenement housing. At age 9, Brooks went to a Broadway show with his uncle Joe—a taxi driver who would drive the Broadway doormen back to Brooklyn for free and was given the tickets in gratitude—and saw Anything Goes with William Gaxton, Ethel Merman and Victor Moore at the Alvin Theater. After the show, he told his uncle that he was not going to work in the garment district like everyone else but was absolutely going into show business.
When Brooks was 14 he gained employment as a pool tummler. Brooks kept his guests amused with his crazy antics. In a Playboy interview Brooks explained that one day he stood at the edge of a diving board wearing a large overcoat and 2 suitcases full of rocks who then announced: "Business is terrible! I can't go on!" before jumping, fully clothed into the pool. He was taught by Buddy Rich (who had also grown up in Williamsburg) how to play the drums and started to earn money as a musician when he was 14. During Brooks' time as a drummer he was given his first opportunity as a comedian at the age of 16 following an ill emcee. During his teens, Melvin Kaminsky officially changed his name to Mel Brooks. (from his mother's maiden name Brookman) after being confused with the trumpeter Max Kaminsky.
Brooks was drafted into the United States Army in 1944. After scoring highly on the Army General Classification Test (a Stanford-Binet-type IQ test), he was sent to the elite Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at the Virginia Military Institute to be taught skills such as military engineering, foreign languages or medicine. Manpower shortages led the Army to disband the ASTP so Brooks returned to basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in May 1944.
Brooks served as a corporal in the 1104 Engineer Combat Battalion, 78th Infantry Division, defusing land mines as the allies advanced into Nazi Germany. With the end of the war in Europe, Brooks took part in organizing shows for captured Germans and American forces.
After the war, Brooks started working in various Borscht Belt resorts and nightclubs in the Catskill Mountains as a drummer and pianist. After a regular comic at one of the nightclubs was too sick to perform one night, Brooks started working as a stand-up comic, telling jokes and doing movie-star impressions. He also began acting in summer stock in Red Bank, New Jersey, and did some radio work. He eventually worked his way up to the comically aggressive job of tummler (master entertainer) at Grossinger's, one of the Borscht Belt's most famous resorts. Brooks found more rewarding work behind the scenes, becoming a comedy writer for television. In 1949 his friend Sid Caesar hired Brooks to write jokes for the NBC series The Admiral Broadway Revue, paying him $50 a week.
In 1950 Caesar created the revolutionary variety comedy series Your Show of Shows and hired Brooks as a writer along with Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, and head writer Mel Tolkin. The show was an immediate hit and has been influential to all variety and sketch-comedy TV shows since. Reiner, as creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show, based Morey Amsterdam's character Buddy Sorell on Brooks. Likewise, the film My Favorite Year (1982) is loosely based on Brooks' experiences as a writer on the show including an encounter with the actor Errol Flynn. Neil Simon's play Laughter on the 23rd Floor (1993) is also loosely based on the production of the show, and the character Ira Stone is based on Brooks.Your Show of Shows ended in 1954 when performer Imogene Coca left to host her own show. Caesar then created Caesar's Hour with most of the same cast and writers (including Brooks and adding Woody Allen and Larry Gelbart). Caesar's Hour ran from 1954 until 1957.
Brooks and co-writer Reiner had become close friends and began to casually improvise comedy routines when they were not working. Reiner would play the straight man interviewer who would set Brooks up as anything from a Tibetan monk to an astronaut. As Reiner explained: "In the evening, we'd go to a party and I'd pick a character for him to play. I never told him what it was going to be." On one of these occasions, Reiner's suggestion concerned a 2000 year-old-man who had witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (who "came in the store but never bought anything"), had been married several hundred times, and had "over forty-two thousand children, and not one comes to visit me." At first Brooks and Reiner would only perform the routine for friends, but by the late 1950s, it had gained a reputation in New York City. Kenneth Tynan saw the comedy duo perform at a party in 1959 and wrote that Brooks "was the most original comic improvisor I had ever seen."
In 1960, Brooks moved from New York to Hollywood. He and Reiner began performing the "2000 Year Old Man" act on The Steve Allen Show. Their performances led to the release of the comedy album 2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks that sold over a million copies in 1961. They eventually expanded their routine with two more albums in 1961 and 1962, a revival in 1973, a 1975 animated TV special, and a reunion album in 1998. At one point, when Brooks had financial and career struggles, the record sales from the 2000 Year Old Man were his chief source of income.
Brooks adapted the 2000 Year Old Man character to create the 2500 Year Old Brewmaster for Ballantine Beer in the 1960s. Interviewed by Dick Cavett in a series of ads, the Brewmaster (in a German accent, as opposed to the 2000 Year Old Man's Yiddish accent) said he was inside the original Trojan horse and "could've used a six-pack of fresh air."
Brooks was involved in the creation of the Broadway musical All American which debuted on Broadway in 1962. Brooks wrote the play with lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse. The show starred Ray Bolger as a southern science professor at a large university who uses the principles of engineering on the college's football team and the team begins to win games. The show was directed by Joshua Logan, whose script doctored the second act and added a gay subtext to the plot. The show ran for 80 performances and received two Tony Award nominations.
The animated short film The Critic (1963), a satire of arty, esoteric cinema, was conceived by Brooks and directed by Ernest Pintoff. Brooks supplied running commentary as the baffled moviegoer trying to make sense of the obscure visuals. The short film won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film.
With comedy writer Buck Henry, Brooks created a comedic TV show titled Get Smart about a bumbling James Bond-inspired spy. Brooks explains: "I was sick of looking at all those nice sensible situation comedies. They were such distortions of life... I wanted to do a crazy, unreal comic-strip kind of thing about something besides a family. No one had ever done a show about an idiot before. I decided to be the first." The show stars Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86. The series ran from 1965 until 1970, although Brooks had little involvement after the first season. Get Smart was highly rated for most of its production and won seven Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series in 1968 and 1969.
For several years, Brooks had been toying with a bizarre and unconventional idea about a musical comedy of Adolf Hitler. Brooks explored the idea as a novel and a play before finally writing a script. Eventually, he was able to find two producers to fund the show, Joseph E. Levine and Sidney Glazier, and made his first feature film, The Producers (1967).
The Producers was so brazen in its satire that major studios would not touch it, nor would many exhibitors. Brooks finally found an independent distributor who released it as an art film, a specialized attraction. In 1968, Brooks received an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film instead of such writers as Stanley Kubrick and John Cassavetes. The Producers became a smash underground hit, first on the nationwide college circuit, then in revivals and on home video. Brooks later turned it into a musical, which became hugely successful on Broadway, receiving an unprecedented twelve Tony awards.
With the moderate financial success of the film The Producers, Glazier financed Brooks' next film, The Twelve Chairs (1970). Loosely based on the Russian novel The Twelve Chairs (1928) by Ilf and Petrov about greedy materialism in post-revolutionary Russia, the film stars Ron Moody, Frank Langella, and Dom DeLuise as three men individually searching for a fortune in diamonds hidden in a set of 12 antique chairs. Brooks makes a cameo appearance as an alcoholic ex-serf who "yearns for the regular beatings of yesteryear." The film was shot in Yugoslavia with a budget of $1.5 million. The film received poor reviews and was not financially successful.
Brooks then wrote an adaptation of Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer, but was unable to sell the idea to any studio and believed that his career was over. In 1972, Brooks met agent David Begelman, who helped him set up a deal with Warner Brothers to hire Brooks (as well as Richard Pryor, Andrew Bergman, Norman Steinberg, and Al Uger) as a script doctor for an unproduced script called Tex-X. Eventually, Brooks was hired as director for what would become Blazing Saddles (1974), his third film.
Blazing Saddles starred Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, Madeline Kahn, Alex Karras, and Brooks himself, with cameos by Dom DeLuise and Count Basie. The film had music by Brooks and John Morris, and had a modest budget of $2.6 million. This film is a satire on the Western film genre and references older films such as Destry Rides Again (1939), High Noon (1952), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), as well as a surreal scene towards the end of the film referencing the extravagant musicals of Busby Berkeley.
Upon its release, Blazing Saddles was the second-highest US grossing film of 1974, earning $119.5 million worldwide. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a success with younger audiences. It was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Madeline Kahn, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Original Song. The film won the Writers Guild of America Award for "Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen" and in 2006 it was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Brooks has said that the film "has to do with love more than anything else. I mean when that black guy rides into that Old Western town and even a little old lady says 'Up yours, nigger!', you know that his heart is broken. So it's really the story of that heart being mended."
When Gene Wilder replaced Gig Young as the Waco Kid, he did so only if Brooks agreed that his next film would be an idea that Wilder had been working on a spoof of the Universal series of Frankenstein films from several decades earlier. After the filming of Blazing Saddles was completed, Wilder and Brooks began writing the script for Young Frankenstein and shot the film in the spring of 1974. It starred Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman and Kenneth Mars, with Gene Hackman in a cameo role. Brooks' voice can be heard three times, first as the wolf howl when the characters are on their way to the castle, second as the voice of Victor Frankenstein when the characters discover the laboratory, and third as the cat sound when Gene Wilder accidentally throws a dart out of the window in a scene with Kenneth Mars. Composer John Morris again provided the music score and Universal monsters film special effects veteran Kenneth Strickfaden worked on the film.
Young Frankenstein was the third-highest-grossing film domestically of 1974, just behind Blazing Saddles. It earned $86 million worldwide and received two Academy Award nominations: Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay and Academy Award for Best Sound. It received some of the best reviews of Brooks' career and even critic Pauline Kael liked the film, saying: "Brooks makes a leap up as a director because, although the comedy doesn't build, he carries the story through...Brooks even has a satisfying windup, which makes this just about the only comedy of recent years that doesn't collapse."
In 1975, at the height of his movie career, Brooks tried TV again with When Things Were Rotten, a Robin Hood parody that lasted only 13 episodes. Nearly 20 years later, in response to the 1991 hit film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Brooks mounted another Robin Hood parody with Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). Brooks' film resurrected several pieces of dialogue from his TV series, as well as from earlier Brooks films.
Brooks followed up his two hit films with an audacious idea: the first feature-length silent comedy in four decades. Silent Movie (1976) was written by Brooks and Ron Clark, starring Brooks in his first leading role, Dom DeLuise, Marty Feldman, Sid Caesar, Bernadette Peters, and in cameo roles playing themselves: Paul Newman, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Anne Bancroft, and the non-speaking Marcel Marceau who ironically uttered the film's only word of audible dialogue: "Non!" Although not as successful as his previous two films, Silent Movie was a hit and grossed $36 million. Later that year, Brooks was named number 5 on a list of the Top Ten Box Office Stars.
Brooks' parody of the films of Alfred Hitchcock in High Anxiety (1977) was written by Brooks, Ron Clark, Rudy De Luca, and Barry Levinson. It was the first movie produced by Brooks himself. It starred Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman, Ron Carey, Howard Morris, and Dick Van Patten. The film satirizes such Hitchcock films as Vertigo, Spellbound, Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest, Dial M for Murder, and Suspicion. Brooks stars as Professor Richard H. (for Harpo) Thorndyke, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist who also happens to suffer from "high anxiety".
By 1980 Siskel and Ebert called Mel Brooks and Woody Allen "the two most successful comedy directors in the world today ... America's two funniest filmmakers." Released that year was the dramatic film The Elephant Man directed by David Lynch and produced by Brooks. Knowing that anyone seeing a poster reading "Mel Brooks presents The Elephant Man" would expect a comedy, he set up the company Brooksfilms. Brooksfilms has since produced a number of non-comedy films, including David Cronenberg's Frances (1982), The Fly (1986), and 84 Charing Cross Road (1987), starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft, along with comedies, including Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year (1982), which was partially based on Mel Brooks' real life. Brooks sought to purchase the rights to 84 Charing Cross Road for his wife, Anne Bancroft, for many years. He also produced the comedy Fatso (1980) that Bancroft directed.
In 1981, Brooks joked that the only genres that he had not spoofed were historical epics and Biblical spectacles. History of the World Part I was a tongue-in-cheek look at human culture from the Dawn of Man to the French Revolution. The film was written, produced, and directed by Brooks with narration by Orson Welles. This film was another modest financial hit, earning $31 million. It received mixed critical reviews. Critic Pauline Kael, who for years had been critical of Brooks, said: "Either you get stuck thinking about the bad taste or you let yourself laugh at the obscenity in the humor as you do Buñuel's perverse dirty jokes."
Brooks produced and starred in (but did not write or direct) a remake of the Ernst Lubitsch 1942 film. To Be or Not to Be (1983) was directed by Alan Johnson and starred Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Tim Matheson, Jose Ferrer, and Christopher Lloyd. The film garnered international publicity by featuring a controversial song on its soundtrack – "To Be or Not to Be (The Hitler Rap) – satirizing German society in the 1940s with Brooks playing Hitler.
The second movie Brooks directed in the 1980s came in the form of Spaceballs (1987), a parody of science fiction, mainly Star Wars. The film starred Bill Pullman, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, Joan Rivers, Dom DeLuise, and Brooks. In 1989, Brooks (with co-executive producer Alan Spencer) made another attempt at television success with the sitcom The Nutt House, which featured Brooks regulars Harvey Korman and Cloris Leachman and was originally broadcast on NBC, but the network only aired five of the eleven episodes produced before canceling the series. During the next decade, Brooks directed Life Stinks (1991), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995). People magazine suggested, "anyone in a mood for a hearty laugh couldn't do better than Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which gave fans a parody of Robin Hood, especially Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."
Like Brooks' other films, it is filled with one-liners, and even the occasional breaking of the fourth wall. Robin Hood: Men in Tights was Brooks' second time exploring the life of Robin Hood, the first, as mentioned above, having been with his 1975 TV show, When Things Were Rotten. Life Stinks was a financial and critical failure, but is notable as being the only film that Brooks directed that is neither a parody nor a film about other films or theater. (The Twelve Chairs was actually a parody of the original novel.) In the 2000s, Brooks worked on an animated series sequel to Spaceballs called Spaceballs: The Animated Series, which premiered on September 21, 2008, on G4 TV. Brooks has also supplied vocal roles for animation. He voiced Bigweld, the master inventor, in the animated film Robots (2005), and in the later animated film Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) he had a cameo appearance as Albert Einstein. He returned, to voice Dracula's father, Vlad, in Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018).
The musical adaptation of his film The Producers to the Broadway stage broke the Tony record with 12 wins, a record that had previously been held for 37 years by Hello, Dolly! at 10 wins. This success led to a big-screen version of the Broadway adaptation/remake with actors Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane reprising their stage roles, in addition to new cast members Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell in 2005. In early April 2006, Brooks began composing the score to a Broadway musical adaptation of Young Frankenstein, which he says is "perhaps the best movie [he] ever made." The world premiere was performed at Seattle's Paramount Theater, between August 7, 2007, and September 1, 2007, after which it opened on Broadway at the former Lyric Theater (then the Hilton Theatre), New York, on October 11, 2007. It earned mixed reviews from the critics.
Brooks joked about the concept of a musical adaptation of Blazing Saddles in the final number in Young Frankenstein, in which the full company sings, "next year, Blazing Saddles!" In 2010, Mel Brooks confirmed this, saying that the musical could be finished within a year. No creative team or plan has been announced.
Brooks is one of the few people who have received an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, and a Grammy. He was awarded his first Grammy for Best Spoken Comedy Album in 1999 for his recording of The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 with Carl Reiner. His two other Grammys came in 2002 for Best Musical Show Album for the cast album of The Producers and for Best Long Form Music Video for the DVD "Recording the Producers – A Musical Romp with Mel Brooks". He won his first of four Emmy awards in 1967 for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety for a Sid Caesar special and went on to win three consecutive Emmys in 1997, 1998, and 1999 for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his role of Uncle Phil on Mad About You. Brooks won his Academy Award for Original Screenplay (Oscar) in 1968 for The Producers. He won his three Tony awards in 2001 for his work on the musical, The Producers for Best Musical, Best Original Musical Score, and Best Book of a Musical.
Brooks won a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award for Young Frankenstein. In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted No. 50 of the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
On December 5, 2009, Brooks was one of five recipients of the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. He was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 23, 2010 with a motion pictures star located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard. American Masters produced a biography on Brooks which premiered May 20, 2013, on PBS. The AFI presented Brooks with its highest tribute, the AFI Life Achievement Award, in June 2013. In 2014 Brooks was honored in a handprint and footprint ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre. His concrete handprints include a six-fingered left hand as he wore a prosthetic finger when making his prints. On March 20, 2015, Brooks was awarded a British Film Institute Fellowship from the British Film Institute.
Brooks was married to Florence Baum (1926-2008) from 1953-1962, their marriage ending in divorce. They had three children: Stephanie, Nicky, and Eddie. Brooks married stage, film and television actress Anne Bancroft in 1964, and they remained together until her death in 2005. They had 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. Their son, Max Brooks, was born in 1972, and their grandson, Henry Michael Brooks, was born in 2005.
In 2010, Brooks credited Bancroft with having been "the guiding force" behind his involvement in developing The Producers and Young Frankenstein for the musical theater, saying of an early meeting with her: "From that day, until her death…we were glued together."
Regarding religion, Brooks stated, "I'm rather secular. I'm basically Jewish. But I think I'm Jewish not because of the Jewish religion at all. I think it's the relationship with the people and the pride I have. The tribe surviving so many misfortunes, and being so brave and contributing so much knowledge to the world and showing courage."
Brooks' great-nephew from his brother Lenny, Todd Kaminsky, is a New York state senator for state senate district 9 on Long Island and formerly represented Long Island's state assembly district 20 in the New York State Assembly.
|Title||Year of release||Distributor||Rotten Tomatoes rating||Budget (estimated)||Domestic gross|
|The Producers||1967||Embassy||91%||$0.941 million||N/A|
|The Twelve Chairs||1970||UMC||92%||N/A||N/A|
|Blazing Saddles||1974||Warner Bros.||90%||$2.6 million||$119.6 million|
|Young Frankenstein||20th Century Fox||93%||$2.78 million||$86.3 million|
|Silent Movie||1976||81%||$4.1 million||$36.1 million|
|High Anxiety||1977||75%||$4 million||$31.1 million|
|History of the World, Pt. I||1981||62%||$10 million||$31.7 million|
|Spaceballs||1987||MGM||54%||$22.7 million||$38.1 million|
|Life Stinks||1991||19%||$13 million||$4.1 million|
|Robin Hood: Men in Tights||1993||20th Century Fox||48%||$20 million||$35.7 million|
|Dracula: Dead and Loving It||1995||Columbia||11%||$30 million||$10.8 million|
|1963||The Critic||Narrator (voice)||Short film|
|1967||The Producers||Singer in "Springtime for Hitler" (voice)||Also director and writer|
|1969||Putney Swope||Mr. Forget It|
|1970||The Twelve Chairs||Tikon||Also director and writer|
|1974||Blazing Saddles||Governor William J. Lepetomane, Indian Chief||Also director and writer|
|Young Frankenstein||Werewolf, Cat Hit by Dart, Victor Frankenstein (voice)||Also director and writer|
|1975||The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother||Bruner (voice)||Uncredited|
|1976||Silent Movie||Mel Funn||Also director and writer|
|1977||High Anxiety||Richard H. Thorndyke||Also director, producer, writer|
|1979||The Muppet Movie||Professor Max Krassman|
|1981||History of the World, Part I||Moses, Comicus, Tomas de Torquemada, Louis XVI of France, Jacques le Garçon de Pisse||Also director, producer, writer|
|1983||To Be or Not to Be||Dr. Frederick Bronski||Also producer|
|1987||Spaceballs||President Skroob, Yogurt||Also director, producer, writer|
|1990||Look Who's Talking Too||Mr. Toilet Man (voice)|
|1991||Life Stinks||Goddard Bolt||Also director, producer and writer|
|1992||Mickey's Audition||Movie director||Short film|
|1993||Robin Hood: Men in Tights||Rabbi Tuckman||Also director, producer and writer|
|1994||The Silence of the Hams||Checkout Guest||Uncredited|
|The Little Rascals||Mr. Welling|
|1995||Dracula: Dead and Loving It||Dr. Abraham Van Helsing||Also director, producer, writer|
|1998||The Prince of Egypt||Additional voices||Uncredited|
|1999||Screw Loose||Jake Gordon|
|2000||Sex, Lies and Video Violence||Stressed old man|
|The Producers||Hilda the Pigeon, Tom the Cat (voices) / Himself||Also producer and writer|
|2010||Ruby's Studio: The Feelings Show||Sally Simon Simmons Narrator (voice)|
|2014||Mr. Peabody & Sherman||Albert Einstein (voice)||Cameo|
|Underdogs||The Preacher (voice)||Cameo|
|Hotel Transylvania 2||Vlad (voice)|
|2017||Leap!||M. Luteau (voice)||American English dub of an animated French film|
|The Guardian Brothers||Mr. Rogman (voice)||English dub of an animated Chinese film|
|2018||Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation||Vlad (voice)|
|TBA||Blazing Samurai||Shogun (voice)||Post-production; also executive producer|
|1961||The New Steve Allen Show||2000 Year Old Man||2 episodes|
|1965–70||Get Smart||N/A||Co-creator/character developer|
|1967||The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special||Himself||Special|
|1971–77||The Electric Company||Blond-Haired Cartoon Man (voice)||780 episodes|
|1974||Free to Be... You and Me||Baby Boy (voice)||Television film|
|1975||The 2000 Year Old Man||2000 Year Old Man (voice)||Special; also writer|
|1975||When Things Were Rotten||N/A||Co-creator, executive producer; writer (1 episode)|
|1983||An Audience with Mel Brooks||Himself||Special|
|1989||The Nutt House||N/A||Co-creator, executive producer; writer (1 episode)|
|1990||The Tracey Ullman Show||Buzz Schlanger||Episode: "Due Diligence"|
|1993||Frasier||Tom (voice)||Episode: "Miracle on Third or Fourth Street"|
|1995||The Simpsons||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Homer vs. Patty and Selma"|
|1996–99||Mad About You||Uncle Phil||4 episodes|
|2000||The Kids from Room 402||Mr. Miller (voice)||Episode: "Squeezed Out"|
|2002||It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie||Joe Snow (voice)||Television film|
|2003||The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius||Santa Claus (voice)||Episode: "Holly Jolly Jimmy"|
|2003–07||Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks||Wiley the Sheep (voice)||47 episodes|
|2004||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Himself||4 episodes|
|2008–09||Spaceballs: The Animated Series||President Skroob, Yogurt (voice)||13 episodes; also co-creator, executive producer, writer|
|2010||Glenn Martin, DDS||Canine (voice)||Episode: "A Very Martin Christmas"|
|2011||Special Agent Oso||Grandpa Mel (voice)||Episode: "On Old MacDonald's Special Song/Snapfingers"|
|2011||The Paul Reiser Show||The Angry Cat (voice)||Episode: "The Playdate"|
|2011||Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again||Himself||Special|
|2012||Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee||Himself||Episode: "I Want Sandwiches, I Want Chicken"|
|2012||Mel Brooks Strikes Back||Himself||Special|
|2014||Dora the Explorer||Mad Hatter (voice)||Episode: "Dora in Wonderland"|
|2015||Mel Brooks: Live at the Geffen||Himself||Stand-up special|
|2015||The Comedians||Himself||Episode: "Celebrity Guest"|
|2018||To Tell the Truth||Himself||Season 3, Episode 2|
|1952||New Faces of 1952||Writer|
|2001||The Producers||Composer, lyricist, writer, producer|
|2007||Young Frankenstein||Composer, lyricist, writer, producer|
Blazing Saddles is a 1974 American satirical comedy-western film directed by Mel Brooks. Starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder, the film was written by Brooks, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg and Al Uger, and was based on Bergman's story and draft. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and audiences, was nominated for three Academy Awards and is ranked No. 6 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Laughs list.
Brooks appears in three supporting roles, Governor William J. Le Petomane, a Yiddish-speaking Native American chief and "a director" in line to help invade Rock Ridge (a nod to Hitchcock); he also dubs lines for one of Lili von Shtupp's backing troupe. The supporting cast includes Slim Pickens, Alex Karras and David Huddleston, as well as Brooks regulars Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn and Harvey Korman. Bandleader Count Basie has a cameo as himself.
The film satirizes the racism obscured by myth-making Hollywood accounts of the American West, with the hero being a black sheriff in an all-white town. The film is full of deliberate anachronisms, from the Count Basie Orchestra playing "April in Paris" in the Wild West, to Slim Pickens referring to the Wide World of Sports, to the German army of World War II.Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner (born March 20, 1922) is an American comedian, actor, director, screenwriter and publisher whose career spans seven decades.
During the early years of television comedy from 1950 to 1957, he co-wrote and acted on Caesar's Hour and Your Show of Shows, starring Sid Caesar. In the 1960s, Reiner was best known as the creator, producer, writer and actor on The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also had great success as a film director and writer and in the 1970s and 1980s co-wrote and directed some of Steve Martin's most successful films, including 1979's The Jerk.
Reiner formed a comedy duo with Mel Brooks in "2000 Year Old Man" and acted in films such as The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) and the Ocean's film series (2001–2007). Reiner has won nine Emmy Awards and one Grammy Award during his career. He is the father of actor and director Rob Reiner, author Annie Reiner and grandfather to Tracy Reiner.High Anxiety
High Anxiety is a 1977 American satirical comedy film produced and directed by Mel Brooks, who also plays the lead. This is Brooks' first film as a producer and first speaking lead role (his first lead role was in Silent Movie). Veteran Brooks ensemble members Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, and Madeline Kahn are also featured.
The film is a parody of suspense films, most obviously the films directed by Alfred Hitchcock: Spellbound, Vertigo and The Birds. The film was dedicated to Hitchcock, who worked with Brooks on the screenplay and later sent Brooks an expensive case of wine as a token of his appreciation.History of the World, Part I
History of the World, Part I is a 1981 American anthology comedy film written, produced, and directed by Mel Brooks. Brooks also stars in the film, playing five roles: Moses, Comicus the stand-up philosopher, Tomás de Torquemada, King Louis XVI, and Jacques, le garçon de pisse. The large ensemble cast also features Sid Caesar, Shecky Greene, Gregory Hines (in his film debut), Charlie Callas; and Brooks regulars Ron Carey, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Andreas Voutsinas, and Spike Milligan.
The film also has cameo appearances by Royce D. Applegate, Beatrice Arthur, Hugh Hefner, John Hurt, Phil Leeds, Barry Levinson, Jackie Mason, Paul Mazursky, Andrew Sachs and Henny Youngman, among others. Orson Welles narrates each story.
Despite carrying the title Part 1, there is no sequel; the title is a play on The History of the World, Volume 1 by Sir Walter Raleigh, as detailed below.Life Stinks
Life Stinks is a 1991 American comedy-drama film co-written, produced, directed by and starring Mel Brooks. It is one of the few Mel Brooks comedies that is not a parody, nor at any time does the film break the fourth wall. It co-stars Lesley Ann Warren, Howard Morris and Jeffrey Tambor. The original music score was composed by John Morris. The film was both a critical and box office flop.Silent Movie
Silent Movie is a 1976 American satirical comedy film co-written, directed by, and starring Mel Brooks, and released by 20th Century Fox on June 17, 1976. The ensemble cast includes Dom DeLuise, Marty Feldman, Bernadette Peters, and Sid Caesar, with appearances by Anne Bancroft, Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Marcel Marceau, and Paul Newman playing themselves. While indeed silent (except for one word, music, and numerous sound effects), the film is a parody of the silent film genre, particularly the slapstick comedies of Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett, and Buster Keaton. Among the film's most famous gags is the fact that the only audible word in the film is spoken by Marcel Marceau, a noted mime. Sound is a big factor in the film's humor, as when a scene that shows the New York City skyline begins with the song "San Francisco", only to have it come to a sudden stop as if the musicians realize they are playing the wrong music. They then go into "I'll Take Manhattan" instead. A play on the current trend of large corporations buying up film studios is parodied by the attempt of the Engulf and Devour Corporation to take control of a studio (a thinly veiled reference to Gulf+Western's takeover of Paramount Pictures).Spaceballs
Spaceballs is a 1987 American comic science fiction film co-written, produced and directed by Mel Brooks. Starring Brooks, Bill Pullman, John Candy and Rick Moranis, the film also features Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, and the voice of Joan Rivers. In addition to Brooks in a supporting role, the film also features Brooks regulars Dom DeLuise and Rudy De Luca in cameo appearances.
The film's setting and characters parody the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as other sci-fi franchises including Star Trek, Alien and the Planet of the Apes films. It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 24, 1987, and was met with a mixed reception. It has since become a cult classic on video and one of Brooks's most popular films.The Producers (1967 film)
The Producers is a 1967 American satirical comedy film written and directed by Mel Brooks and starring Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn, and Kenneth Mars. The film was Brooks's directorial debut, and he won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Decades later, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and placed eleventh on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs list. It was later adapted by Brooks and Thomas Meehan as a stage musical, which itself was adapted into a film.The Producers (2005 film)
The Producers is a 2005 American musical comedy film directed by Susan Stroman and written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan based on the eponymous 2001 Broadway musical, which in turn was based on Brooks's 1967 film of the same name starring Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Andreas Voutsinas. The film stars an ensemble cast led by Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Gary Beach, Roger Bart, and Jon Lovitz. Creature effects were provided by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.
The film was released in the United States by Universal Pictures in a limited release on December 16, 2005, followed by a wide release on December 25. It garnered generally mixed reviews from critics and was a commercial failure, earning $38 million worldwide from a $45 million budget.The Producers (musical)
The Producers is a musical adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks's 1967 film of the same name, with lyrics written by Brooks and music composed by Brooks and arranged by Glen Kelly and Doug Besterman. As in the film, the story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful. The humor of the show draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of homosexuals and Nazis, and many show business in-jokes.
After 33 previews, the original Broadway production opened at the St. James Theatre on April 19, 2001, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and ran for 2,502 performances, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. It spawned a successful London production running for just over two years, national tours in the US and UK, many productions worldwide and a 2005 film version.The Twelve Chairs (1970 film)
The Twelve Chairs is a 1970 American comedy film directed by Mel Brooks and starring Frank Langella, Ron Moody, and Dom DeLuise. The screenplay was written by Brooks. The film was one of at least 18 film adaptations of the Russian 1928 novel The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov.To Be or Not to Be (1983 film)
To Be or Not to Be is a 1983 American war comedy film directed by Alan Johnson, produced by Mel Brooks, and starring Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Tim Matheson, Charles Durning, Christopher Lloyd, and José Ferrer. The screenplay was written by Ronny Graham and Thomas Meehan, based on the original story by Melchior Lengyel, Ernst Lubitsch and Edwin Justus Mayer. The film is a remake of the 1942 film of the same name.When Things Were Rotten
When Things Were Rotten is an American sitcom television series created in 1975 by Mel Brooks and aired for half a season by ABC.
A parody of the Robin Hood legend, the series starred Dick Gautier (who earlier had played Hymie the Robot in Brooks' Get Smart series) as Robin Hood. The remaining series regulars included Dick Van Patten as Friar Tuck, Bernie Kopell (another Get Smart veteran) as Alan-a-Dale, Henry Polic II as the Sheriff of Nottingham (whose name was Hubert), Ron Rifkin as Prince John, Misty Rowe as Maid Marian, and David Sabin as Little John. Richard Dimitri played a dual role as identical twin brothers; Renaldo, one of the Merry Men, and Bertram, the Sheriff's right-hand man. Brooks again spoofed the Robin Hood legend in his 1993 film Robin Hood: Men in Tights.Young Frankenstein
Young Frankenstein is a 1974 American comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder as the title character, a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and Peter Boyle as the monster. The supporting cast includes Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, and Gene Hackman. The screenplay was written by Wilder and Brooks.The film is a parody of the classic horror film genre, in particular the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein produced by Universal Pictures in the 1930s. Much of the lab equipment used as props was created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein. To help evoke the atmosphere of the earlier films, Brooks shot the picture entirely in black and white, a rarity in the 1970s, and employed 1930s' style opening credits and scene transitions such as iris outs, wipes, and fades to black. The film also features a period score by Brooks' longtime composer John Morris.
A critical favorite and box office smash, Young Frankenstein ranks No. 28 on Total Film magazine's readers' "List of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films of All Time", No. 56 on Bravo TV's list of the "100 Funniest Movies", and No. 13 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 funniest American movies. In 2003, it was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the United States National Film Preservation Board, and selected for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry. It was later adapted by Brooks and Thomas Meehan as a stage musical.
On its 40th anniversary, Brooks considered it by far his finest (although not his funniest) film as a writer-director.Young Frankenstein (musical)
Young Frankenstein (promoted as The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein) is a musical with a book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, and music and lyrics by Brooks. It is based on the 1974 comedy film of the same name written by Brooks and Gene Wilder and directed by Brooks, who has described it as his best film. It is a parody of the horror film genre, especially the 1931 Universal Pictures adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and its 1939 sequel, Son of Frankenstein.
After tryouts in Seattle and four weeks of previews, the musical opened on Broadway on November 8, 2007 to mixed reviews. The Broadway production closed on January 4, 2009 after 30 previews and 484 performances. A U.S. tour started on September 29, 2009 in Providence, Rhode Island.A revised version of the show opened in London's West End at the Garrick Theatre on 10 October 2017 (after a tryout at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle) to positive reviews.
|Television series created|
|Musicals written for the stage|
listed by duration and year of completion