Happy Birthday Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks in 2010.

Mel Brooks in 2010.

Born June 28, 1926: Mel Brooks

If you wonder why a science fiction blog is celebrating Mel’s birthday, it will come back to you in a moment.

Three of his films rank in the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 comedy films of all-time — #6 Blazing Saddles, #11The Producers, and lucky #13 Young Frankenstein.

Extra lucky, because Young Frankenstein won Brooks both a Hugo and a Nebula.

His script for The Producers was so over-the-top he had to get an independent distributor to release it as an art film – but it earned him an Oscar in 1968 for Best Original Screenplay. Among the nominees he beat were Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, up for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Brooks’ next two most successful films came out in the same year, 1974. Gene Wilder agreed to appear in Blazing Saddles on condition that Brooks’ next production would be based on Wilder’s idea for a parody of Universal’s Frankenstein films.

Young Frankenstein was the third highest grossing film domestically of 1974, just behind Blazing Saddles.

Brooks collaborated with comedy writer Buck Henry on the Get Smart pilot in 1965. He directed the 1987 sf satire Spaceballs.

And Brooks voiced Albert Einstein in the 2014 animated time travel feature Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

He is one of the few artists who have received an Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy. The only other artist among those 12 with a significant connection to sf is Whoopi Goldberg.

3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Mel Brooks

  1. I met Brooks and his wife at the Royal Greenwich Observatory back in the early 1980s. Last year, when I mentioned it to his son, Max Brooks (author of World War Z), he commented that he had been there, too.

  2. A long time ago in a Galaxy down the street, Estelle Reiner had a regular gig at the Vine Street Bar & Grill, she a jazz singer. On the nights of her performances her husband, Carl, would always be there for dinner. They’d always have friends join them, be it Buck Henry, Sid Caesar or Mel Brooks, etc. Between Estelle’s sets the boys would get up and entertain. I got to hear versions of The Two Thousand Year Old Man that they could never have done on Ed Sullivan.

  3. Mr. Brooks and Mr. Henry were amazingly prescient, predicting bad cellphone manners for the sake of comedy — in the pilot episode of Get Smart, decades before it actually became a problem, Agent 86’s shoephone rings (with the sound of a conventional telephone bell) while he’s in the audience at an opera and he has to traverse an entire row of patrons and move up the aisle and out of the theater with the phone continuing to ring non-stop until he gets to a place of concealment to answer.

Comments are closed.