Celebrity Then And Now
Mel Brooks
Name: Mel Brooks
Birthdate: June 28, 1926
Famous Years: 1965-Present
Currently Known For: Hotel Transylvania 3
Networth: $85 MillionFamous For: Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, The Producers
Mel Brooks
Name Mel Brooks
Birthdate June 28, 1926
Famous Years 1965-Present
Currently Known For Hotel Transylvania 3
Networth $85 Million
Famous For Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, The Producers

If you ask any comedian over the past half century who they think that the most important person in comedy history is, a lot of them will tell you Mel Brooks. Brooks has been responsible for some of the most well received comedy productions on the big screen, as well as on television and on stage. The 92 year old is an icon that’s in a rare group of people that have won an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Tony award, and for good reason.

Brooks was born on June 28, 1926 in Brooklyn, and said that the death of his father when he was a young boy was responsible for coming up with a lot of his comedy. Seeing others laugh was a good dose of medicine for the young Brooks, but his career in comedy didn’t come as early as you might expect. Instead, Brooks went to college for psychology, and then joined the Army during World War II, and moved to the Catskill Mountains afterward.

It was there that Brooks got his first gig as a stand-up comic, and quickly rose up the ranks, being featured on TV for the first time as a writer on “Your Show of Shows”. In the 1960s, Brooks would develop a show with friend Carl Reiner called “The 2000 Year Old Man” which was sold in audio form and becoming a hot seller. He then became a co-creator for the popular comedy show “Get Smart” before starting a career on the big screen.

It was in 1967 that Brooks released his first movie called “The Producers”, which was controversial at the time because it portrayed Adolf Hitler, just a little more than 20 years after World War II had ended. “After all the people that he was responsible for killing and after utterly destroying half the world, I just thought the only weapon I’ve really got is comedy,” Brooks said of his film. “And if I can make this guy ludicrous, if I can make you laugh at him, then it’s a victory of sorts...If you can make them look ridiculous, you can win over the people.” He added “It’s been one of my lifelong jobs - to make the world laugh at Adolf Hitler.”

“The Producers” would end up being a huge hit with audiences, and helped to establish Brooks as a big name in comedy. With that, his film career as a director took off, and he followed up his initial hit with films such as “The Twelve Chairs”, “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein”. Brooks directed a total of five films in the 1970s, and added another pair in the next decade with “History of the World, Pt. 1” and “Spaceballs”. So far, “Blazing Saddles” is his biggest financial success, with a budget of just $2.6 million while pulling in nearly $120 million at the box office, bringing in huge audiences around the country during a time it was needed.

For Brooks, nothing beats the experience of seeing a movie in a packed theater. “I don’t like to watch movies at home or on TV,” he said. “I really like going to the theater. I like the community experience, especially if it’s a comedy. I like being in the dark and being transported into different worlds.” However, he says that streaming films these days has taken much of the experience away.

“I’m afraid to make another movie because I don’t want it to be seen by millions of people on a telephone,” he said. “Comedies must be seen by at least 100 people in some kind of theater. It’s really heartbreaking to me. You know, movies are still good. Acting is still good. Directing is still good. Writing is still good. It’s where they’re seen that just really gets me.”

Brooks hasn’t directed a film since 1995 with the flop “Dracula: Dead and Loving It”, though he’s certainly been busy in Hollywood to this day. For the most part, Brooks had been lending his voice to films, with his more recent ones coming in the “Hotel Transylvania” series, as well as “The Guardian Brothers”, “Leap!” and “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”. He also has an upcoming role in “Blazing Samurai”, an animated film that’s based off of his iconic “Blazing Saddles”.

On television, Brooks often appears as himself these days, and also lends his voice to the small screen. It’s been nearly 20 years since Brooks played a live role that wasn’t himself, and that came as Uncle Phil on “Mad About You”. Then again, playing himself is something that Brooks has always been great at.

As for his legacy in comedy, Brooks is perhaps the most iconic filmmaker in the genre, but doesn’t really care how he gets remembered. He says that he’s already made the funniest movie ever in the form of “Blazing Saddles” but that “My legacy (will say): ‘He was a noble philosopher who used humor to shed light on the human condition, which was hard to take sometimes but he helped us see the folly of our…’ Oh, I don’t know. Who (expletive) cares. I don’t give a (expletive). I won’t be around for any of it anyway.”

Brooks added that “One never really sees themselves in relationship to the wide world. It’s rather impossible to judge your impact on moviegoers, your impact on people who like your films or who like your television...When they tell me, I’m glad to hear it.”