Born Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn, New York, Brooks served in the US Army during World War II as an engineer. He started out in show business as a stand-up comic before becoming a comedy writer for television, working on Your Show of Shows. In 1961, with Carl Reiner, he created the persona of the 2000 Year Old Man, a collection of ad libbed comedy routines made into a series of comedy records. With Buck Henry, he created the successful TV series Get Smart. In 1975, Brooks created When Things Were Rotten, a well-received Robin Hood parody that lasted only 13 episodes; nearly 20 years later, Brooks mounted another Robin Hood parody with Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
He later moved into film, working as an actor, director, writer and producer. Among his most popular films have been Young Frankenstein (co-written with Gene Wilder) and Blazing Saddles (co-written with Richard Pryor), both of which were released in 1974. Brooks developed a repertory company of sorts for his film work: performers with three or more Brooks films to their credit include Wilder, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman and, of course, Brooks himself.
In 1980 Brooks became interested in producing the film "The Elephant Man" directed by David Lynch. Knowing that anyone seeing the poster with "Mel Brooks presents The Elephant Man" would go along expecting a comedy, he set up the company Brooksfilm to produce the film. Brooksfilm has since produced a number of non-comedy films, including David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986), Frances, and 84 Charing Cross Road, starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft, as well as comedies, including Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year.
Brooks' most recent success has been a transfer of his film The Producers to the Broadway stage. Brooks was also featured in the 2005 animated film Robots. He is currently working on a sequel to his 1987 hit Spaceballs, a parody of the Star Wars and Star Trek series.
Brooks is one of a select group who have received an Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy. In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted #50 of the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. Three of Brooks' films are on the American Film Institute's list of funniest American films: Blazing Saddles (#6), The Producers (#11), and Young Frankenstein (#13).
Brooks was married to Florence Baum from 1951 to 1961. Their marriage ended in divorce. Mel and Florence had three children, Stefanie, Nicky, and Eddie. More famously, he was married to the actress Anne Bancroft from 1964 until her death June 6, 2005. They met on rehearsal for the Perry Como variety show in 1961 and married 3 years later, August 5th. They had one son, Maximillian, in 1972.
They worked together on two films: Brooks' 1983 remake of To Be or Not to Be and in his 1976 Silent Movie. Years later, they appeared as themselves in the fourth season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm, spoofing the finale of The Producers. It is reported that Bancroft encouraged Brooks to take The Producers to Broadway which became an enormous success, as the show broke the Tony record with 12 wins, a record that had previously been held for 37 years by Hello, Dolly! at 10 wins. Such success has translated 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 for Christmas 2005.
- The Producers (1968) (writer, director; Academy Award, best original screenplay)
- The Twelve Chairs (1970) (writer, director, actor)
- Young Frankenstein (1974) (co-writer, director)
- Blazing Saddles (1974) (writer, director, actor)
- Silent Movie (1976) (writer, director, actor)
- High Anxiety (1978) (writer, director, actor)
- History of the World, Part I (1981) (writer, director, actor)
- To Be or Not to Be (1983) (actor)
- Spaceballs (1987) (writer, director, actor)
- Life Stinks (1991) (writer, director, actor)
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) (writer, director, actor)
- Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) (writer, director, actor)
- Robots (2005) (voice)
- The Producers (2005) (writer, producer)
- Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 4 (actor)
Works for Broadway theater
- The Producers (2001) (composer, lyricist, co-book-writer, producer; Tony Award for Best Musical, Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical,Tony Award for Best Original Score)
- All American (1962) (book-writer)
- Shinbone Alley (1957) (co-book-writer)
- Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952 (1952) (sketches for a revue)
- Template:Imdb name
- Mel Brooks at the Internet Broadway Database
- Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks Marriage Profile
- Interview with Brooks on NPR's Fresh Air (March 16, 2005)
Some quotes from select movies
"Ahchoo" (Dave Chappelle) from Robin Hood: Men in Tights: "Man, white men can't jump!!"
"Radar officer" (Michael Winslow) from Spaceballs: "I've lost the sweeps, the bleeps, and the creeps!"
"Josephus" (Gregory Hines) from History of the World, Part I: "I'm Josephus, and I'm the main course over at the Coliseum!"
Also from History of the World, Part I:
Count de Monet (Harvey Korman) (consistently mispronounced as "money"): "Bernaise, do we have any of those delicious raisins left?"
Bernaise: "You ate yours. These are mine."
Count de Monet: "Au contraire, they are mine! I paid for them! Hand them over!"
Bernaise: (sotto voce, mimicing): "'I paid for them! They're mine!'" (blows raspberry)
Count de Monet: "Don't get saucy with me, Bernaise."
Count de Monet: "Sire, sire, the peasants are revolting!"
King Louis XVI: (Mel Brooks) "You said it, they stink on ice."
Impoverished Paris Street Merchant: "Rats, rats for sale. Get your rats. Good for rat stew, rat soup, or the ever-popular ratatouille."
King Louis XVI (prior to his arrest): "It's good to be the king."
Tomás de Torquemada: "It's better to lose your skullcap than your skull."
"President Skroob" (Brooks) from Spaceballs: "What the hell, it works on Star Trek!!"