Mel Brooks Essay

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Biography

[edit] Early life

Born Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., to Polish-Jewish parents Maximillian Kaminsky and Kate "Kittie" Brookman. Brooks' grandfather, Abraham Kaminsky, was a herring dealer who immigrated in 1893. He and his wife Bertha raised their ten children on Henry Street on the Lower East Side of New York City.

His father died of kidney disease at age 34. A year later, in 1930, Kittie Kaminsky and her sons Irving, Leonard, Bernard and Melvin were living at 365 S. 3rd St. in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.

As a child, Mel was a small and sickly boy. He was bullied and picked on by his peers. By taking on the comically aggressive job of Tummler in various Catskills resorts, he overcame
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Brooks developed a repertory company of sorts for his film work: performers with three or more Brooks films to their credit include Gene Wilder, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Ron Carey and Andréas Voutsinas. Dom DeLuise has appeared in six of Brooks' 12 films, the only person with more appearances being Brooks himself.

In 1975, at the height of his movie career, Brooks tried TV again with When Things Were Rotten, a Robin Hood parody that lasted only 13 episodes. Nearly 20 years later, Brooks mounted another Robin Hood parody with Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

In 1980 Brooks became interested in producing the dramatic film The Elephant Man (directed by David Lynch). Knowing that anyone seeing a poster reading "Mel Brooks presents The Elephant Man' would expect a comedy, he set up the company Brooksfilms. Brooksfilms has since produced a number of non-comedy films, including David Cronenberg's The Fly, Frances, and 84 Charing Cross Road, starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft, as well as comedies, including Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year.

The 1980s saw Brooks produce and direct only two films, the first being History of the World Part I in 1981, a tongue-in-cheek look at human culture from the Dawn of Man to the French Revolution. As part of the film's soundtrack, Brooks, then aged 55, recorded a rap entitled "It's Good to Be the King", sending up Louis XVI and the French Revolution; it was released as a single, and
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