What can you say about the great comedic genius Mel Brooks? He has given us some of the funniest movies in history. Which of Mel's wonderful films made you laugh the most? Was it The Producers? Blazing Saddles? Young Frankenstein?
A brilliant writer, director and performer, Mel is a true comedy immortal. Here's a few facts you may not have known about Mr. Mel Brooks.
* Mel is one of the rare performers who have won an Emmy, an Oscar, a Grammy and a Tony award.
* He has three films in AFIs list of Funniest Movies of All-time: Blazing Saddles (1973) is #6, The Producers (1968) is #11, and Young Frankenstein (1974) is #13.
* Although Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein are thought of as his most popular films, his biggest video sales come from Spaceballs (1987) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).
* Mel was a small, sickly child who was often picked on by his classmates.
* He was a combat soldier in World War II. Mel was a corporal in the U.S. Army stationed in North Africa. One of his duties was defusing land mines before the infantry moved in.
* As a soldier, Mel took part in the Battle of the Bulge.
* Mel is a very accomplished drummer. He was actually taught by legendary drummer Buddy Rich.
* He attended the funeral of fellow director Alfred Hitchcock.
* He met his future wife, Anne Bancroft, on the set of a TV show. He paid a woman who worked on the set to tell him where she was having dinner that evening, so he could "accidentally" bump into her.
* Mel recorded a rap song for History of the World: Part I called “It's Good to Be the King.” It was actually a surprisingly successful hip hop/dance song.
* Morey Amsterdam's character “Buddy Sorrell" on the classic TV show The Dick Van Dyke Show was based, by writer Carl Reiner, on Mel.
* His movies always feature one scene in which the main character is seated, staring blankly, wondering what went wrong, while friends console him.
* Mel had a cardinal rule to "never eat with the actors" on films he directed, but he enjoyed the company of star Cleavon Little so much on the set of Blazing Saddles, he "begged him to eat with me.”
* He won three Emmy awards in a row for playing “Uncle Phil" on the TV show Mad About You (1997-1999).
* Mel was supposed to have his first starring role in a movie called Easy Come, Easy Go starring the popular singing duo Jan and Dean in 1966. Unfortunately, the movie was cancelled when Jan Berry had his famous car accident which left him with brain damage and paralysis.
* He married Anne Bancroft at New York City Hall. A passer-by served as the witness.
* Mel made a cameo appearance in his movie Young Frankenstein, supplying the voice of a cat.
* The song “Springtime for Hitler" from The Producers is actually sung by Mel. His voice was dubbed-in for the singer's in the film.
* In 2014, Mel placed his handprints and footprints in the forecourt of Mann's Chinese Theater. At the ripe old age of 88, Mel became the oldest-ever performer to have his prints enshrined in the historic forecourt.
(Title image credit: Angela George)