Born Melvin Kaminsky, a self-described "skinny, stringy little Jew with endless energy," on this day in Brooklyn, New York, comedy virtuoso Mel Brooks (1926-) has created classic humor for over 50 years. His side-splitting films mix satire with slapstick.
"My movies rise below vulgarity," he admitted.
During World War II, Brooks served as a U.S. corporal in North Africa. After the war, he did standup at the "Borscht Belt" of Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains of New York, then wrote spoofs for Sid Caeser's television hit, Your Show Of Shows.
"If God wanted us to fly, He would have given us tickets," the audacious comic once observed. "Humor is just another defense against the universe."
In 1968, he won a Best Screenplay Oscar for his showbiz farce, The Producers, which is now enjoying a successful Broadway musical run, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards, including best musical of 2001.
"That's it baby, when you got it, flaunt it," he wrote.
Brooks remains famous for his hilarious portrayal of the Two-Thousand-Year-Old Man, and for writing and directing such classic films as Blazing Saddles (1974) and Young Frankenstein (1974). And icing on the cake: he was married to actress Anne Bancroft (Mrs. Robinson, The Graduate) for over 40 years.
"I want to go on making the loudest noise to the most people," he said.
More Film-Making Quotations
Look for the humor in each situation.