(NEW YORK) — The man who played the 2,000 Year-Old Man has gotten one year closer: comedy legend Mel Brooks is 90 today.
Born Melvin James Kaminsky in Brooklyn, NY, Brooks started as a writer on Your Show of Shows. Brooks and another comedy icon, Carl Reiner first met in 1950. They delighted audiences and inspired a generation of comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and others with the improvised sketch about a really old man who has seen it all, as well as other now-famous bits.
The pair remain close to this day.
Brooks directed some of the most beloved comedies of all time, with three ranked on the American Film Institute Top 100 Comedies of All Time: 1968’s The Producers and 1974’s Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles.
Brooks’ specialty became the spoof, not only the Emmy-winning James Bond send-up Get Smart! on TV, but also on the big screen with the 1977 Alfred Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety, 1987 Star Wars parody Spaceballs, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
Brooks credited his second wife, the late Anne Bancroft, for inspiring him to bring both The Producers and Young Frankenstein to Broadway.
The Producers became a 12-Tony-winning hit with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick playing the respective roles originated by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. The musical, which ran for more than 2,500 performances on Broadway, came full-circle when it was turned into a movie musical with Lane and Broderick in 2005.
A musical adaptation of Young Frankenstein didn’t fare as well; it closed after 484 shows.
Incidentally, Brooks is one of history’s rare EGOTs: that is, a winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar — for the screenplay to The Producers — and a Tony.
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