Farce, satire, and parody come together with Vaudeville roots and manic energy to create the Mel Brooks style of comedy. Born Melvin Kaminsky to a Russian Jewish family in Brooklyn, NY, the writer/producer/director/actor was one of very few people to win an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he worked as a standup comic at resorts in the Catskills and started writing comedy. Along with [[Performer~P79388~Woody Allen~woodyallen]], [[Performer~P111573~Neil Simon~neilsimon]], and others, he wrote for [[Performer~P10145~Sid Caesar~sidcaesar]]'s [[Feature~V56062~Your Show of Shows~yourshowofshows[tvseries]]], which later became [[Feature~V7806~Caesar's Hour~caesarshour:season01]]. Teaming up with fellow staff writer [[Performer~P107881~Carl Reiner~carlreiner]], he developed the award-winning "2000 Year Old Man" comedy skit, which led to several recordings, television appearances, and a 1998 Grammy. He and writer [[Performer~P94069~Buck Henry~buckhenry]] also created the spy-parody TV series [[Feature~V284007~Get Smart~getsmart[tvseries]]] (1965-1970) starring [[Performer~P264~Don Adams~donadams]].
During this time, he produced theater, married actress [[Performer~P80576~Anne Bancroft~annebancroft]], and made his first film: an Oscar-winning animated short parody of modern art called The Critic. He then put together a screenplay based upon his experiences working with Broadway executives that led to his feature-length debut [[Feature~V39399~The Producers~theproducers]]. He cast stage legend [[Performer~P51019~Zero Mostel~zeromostel]] in the lead role and got B-movie producer [[Performer~P99518~Joseph Levine~josephelevine]] to put up the funds, but the movie didn't get distributed until [[Performer~P64447~Peter Sellers~petersellers]] saw it and encouraged its release. Brooks ended up winning an Oscar for Best Screenplay and, in 2000, adapted the film into a highly successful Broadway musical. By 1970, after the release of his next film [[Feature~V51290~The Twelve Chairs~thetwelvechairs]], Hollywood thought his work was "too Jewish." In 1974, Brooks made the marketable move toward parodies with the Western spoof [[Feature~V6029~Blazing Saddles~blazingsaddles]], winning him a Writer's Guild award and introducing his stock actors [[Performer~P39121~Harvey Korman~harveykorman]] and [[Performer~P36650~Madeline Kahn~madelinekahn]]. Finding his niche, he would continue to make parodies throughout his career by spoofing horror ([[Feature~V55978~Young Frankenstein~youngfrankenstein]]), silent movies ([[Feature~V44686~Silent Movie~silentmovie]]), [[Performer~P94487~Hitchcock~alfredhitchcock]] ([[Feature~V22354~High Anxiety~highanxiety]]), historical epics ([[Feature~V22619~History of the World -- Part I~historyoftheworldparti]]), and science fiction ([[Feature~V45901~Spaceballs~spaceballs]]).
Working simultaneously as writer, director, and lead actor, Brooks started to generate negative press about his excessive style. In 1983, appearing opposite [[Performer~P80576~Bancroft~annebancroft]], he concentrated on just acting for the remake of the [[Performer~P100296~Ernst Lubitch~ernstlubitsch]] classic To Be or Not to Be. He continued working with his production company Brooksfilms during the '80s as an executive producer on projects as varied as [[Feature~V17925~The Fly~thefly]], [[Feature~V15593~The Elephant Man~theelephantman]], [[Feature~V45500~Solarbabies~solarbabies]], and [[Feature~V327~84 Charing Cross Road~84charingcrossroad]] (starring [[Performer~P80576~Bancroft~annebancroft]]). His brief stray into non-parody films in 1991 ([[Feature~V29216~Life Stinks~lifestinks]]) was universally dismissed, so he returned to form with [[Feature~V41688~Robin Hood: Men in Tights~robinhood:menintights]] and [[Feature~V135508~Dracula: Dead and Loving It~dracula:deadandlovingit]]. Other than the occasional cameo or random appearance as voice talent, Brooks spent the late '90s winning awards and playing Uncle Phil on the NBC series [[Feature~V274541~Mad About You~madaboutyou[tvseries]]]. In 2001, the Broadway musical version of [[Feature~V39399~The Producers~theproducers]] (starring [[Performer~P40372~Nathan Lane~nathanlane]] and [[Performer~P8627~Matthew Broderick~matthewbroderick]]) led to a successful national tour and broke a new record by winning one Grammy and 12 Tony awards. The stage version would lead to a new big screen adaptation in 2005, creating a whole new generation of fans.
Over the coming years, Brooks would lend his voice to Spaceballs: The Animated Series and Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi