Mel Brooks

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Brooks, Mel,

1927–, American film director, writer, actor, and producer, b. New York City as Melvin Kaminsky. His earliest work was in television, notably as a gag writer for Sid CaesarCaesar, Sid
(Isaac Sidney Caesar), 1922–2014, American comedian, one of the stars of the "golden age of live television," b. Yonkers, N.Y. While performing in a World War II military show he met the producer Max Liebman who, impressed with Caesar's comic abilities, later
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's "Your Show of Shows" (1950–54). He also scored a hit with a 1964 comedy recording, in which he played an irascible, Yiddish-accented 2,000-year-old man. Turning to film, he wrote and directed The Producers (1968), a comic masterpiece of uproarious bad taste. His other hit comedies are usually wild parodies that mix satire with slapstick; they include Blazing Saddles (1974), a spoof of Western movies; Young Frankenstein (1975), a Brooksian take on the horror genre, and High Anxiety (1977), a comic version of Alfred HitchcockHitchcock, Sir Alfred,
1899–1980, English-American film director, writer, and producer, b. London. Hitchcock began his career as a director in 1925 and became prominent with The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938).
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's spine-tinglers. Among his later movies, which have been less successful with the public, are To Be or Not To Be (1983), Life Stinks (1991), and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). Brooks turned to the stage in 2001, adapting his first film hit, The Producers, into a smash hit, Tony-winning Broadway musical (film, 2005).

Bibliography

See biography by J. R. Parish (2007); N. Smurthwaite and P. Gelder, Mel Brooks and the Spoof Movie (1982); M. Yakowar, In Method Madness: The Comic Art of Mel Brooks (1982); N. Sinyard, The Films of Mel Brooks (1987).