A Few Things You May Not Know About Mel Brooks
What can you say about the great comedic genius Mel Brooks? He has given us some of the funniest movies in history, such as “The Producers”, “Blazing Saddles”, “Young Frankenstein”, and “Space Balls”. A brilliant writer, director and performer, Mel is a true comedy immortal.
For your reading pleasure, here are a few Mel Brooks facts you may not know:
- Mel Brooks is one of just 11 performers who have won an Emmy, an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Tony Award, the so called “Grand Slam” of show business. He achieved this 34 years after winning the first of these awards, an Emmy in 1967. The final award was a Tony in 2001. Brooks has nearly achieved the slam multiple times, winning 4 Emmys, 3 Grammys, and 3 Tony Awards, but just 1 Academy Award. If he should happen to win another Academy Award, he’ll be the first person to have achieved the Grand Slam twice.
- Mel was supposed to have his first starring role in a movie called “Easy Come, Easy Go” starring the popular singing duo Jan and Dean in 1966. Unfortunately, the movie was cancelled when Jan Berry had his famous car accident which left him with brain damage and paralysis.
- The song “Springtime for Hitler” from “The Producers” is actually sung by Mel. His voice was dubbed-in for the singer’s in the film.
- As seemingly happened to many who go on to great things, Mel was a small, sickly child who was often picked on by his classmates.
- Brooks was a combat soldier in World War II. Specifically, Mel was a corporal in the U.S. Army stationed in North Africa. One of his duties was defusing landmines before the infantry moved in. Imagine the loss to cinema history if he’d been killed during the war… It makes one wonder what great things the world is missing out on because of all the people killed in various wars- particularly as wars are so often fought by young people who’ve yet to have a chance to realize their full potential.
- As a soldier, Mel took part in the Battle of the Bulge.
- He has three films in AFI’s list of “Funniest Movies of All-Time”: “Blazing Saddles” (1973) is #6, “The Producers” (1968) is #11, and “Young Frankenstein” (1974) is #13.
- Although “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” are often thought of as his most popular films, his biggest video sales come from “Spaceballs” (1987) and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” (1993).
- Mel is a very accomplished drummer. He even got lessons from legendary drummer Buddy Rich.
- He met his future wife, Anne Bancroft, on the set of a TV show. In order to get to know her better, he paid a woman who worked on the set to tell him where she was having dinner that evening, so he could “accidentally” bump into her.
- He married Anne Bancroft at New York city hall in 1964. A passer-by served as the witness. The two were “glued together” from then until her death in 2005.
- He recorded a rap song for “History of the World: Part I” called “It’s Good to Be the King”. It turned out to be a mildly successful hip hop/dance song.
- Morey Amsterdam’s character “Buddy Sorrell” on the classic TV show “The Dick Van Dyke Show” was based on Mel Brooks.
- His movies always feature one scene in which the main character is seated, staring blankly, wondering what went wrong, while friends console him.
- He won three Emmy awards in a row for playing “Uncle Phil” on the TV show “Mad About You” (1997-1999).
- He had a rule of “never eating with the actors” on films he directed. However, he enjoyed the company of Cleavon Little so much on the set of “Blazing Saddles”, he “begged him to eat with me”.
- Mel made a cameo appearance in his movie “Young Frankenstein”, supplying the voice of a cat.
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Actually “Easy Come, Easy Go” was cancelled because Jan Berry broke his leg when the railroad car he and the film crew were standing on was hit by the locomotive they were filming. That was in August of 1965. Jan’s auto accident in which he suffered brain damage didn’t happen until April of 1966.
“Spaceballs” was released in 1987, not 1981. Fact checking would be good on this article.
@Jenni: Many layers of fact checking. Typo checking, though, only two. 🙂