PBS's documentary series has chosen one of the original comedy writers, Mel Brooks, as a salute to the original comedy genius who has created movies that have spanned nearly five decades and still maintain a classic standing, with characters and quotes that remain memorable. Mel Brooks is the last of the living comedy legends and at nearly 87, he's still maintaining the energy of someone half his age.
Spanning an entire life span, from a sickly child in the Bronx to Sid Caesar's writer and creator of iconic shows such as Get Smart, Mel Brooks has had the writing career most people dream of in all entertainment mediums: theater, movie and television and established the careers of nearly a 100 prolific actors including Madeline Kahn, Gene Wilder, Dom De-Louise and Marty Feldman
Weaving archival and current interviews with other comedians, co-stars, and wife, Anne Bancroft, PBS has created a documentary that shows the other side of Mel Brooks -- the side of him rarely seen: the husband, the father and the son, but mainly the director and writer.
The most important aspect of Mel's life was his relationship with Anne Bancroft, to whom he was married for nearly 45 years until her death from uterine cancer in 2005, Coming from two different backgrounds, they managed to have one of the most successful marriages in Hollywood, Anne was quoted as saying "We have our fair share of fights, but when he comes home at night and I hear his key in the lock I say to myself, 'Oh good! The party's about to begin." Together they created Brooks Films which allowed Anne to create her own writing projects and Mel to produce without nepotism in the way. Although they only starred in one picture together, their son Max has assumed both famous parents' careers and created a directorial one of his own.
I love Mel Brooks, I think he's amazing and his creativity is something to be envious of -- in wildest dreams I could never come up with half of his characters. I realize that the actors bring his words to life, but the situations he creates, giving a new makeover to Frankenstein, taking on Hitler with catchy songs, bringing dracula to life and singing his way through The History of the World.
Given the opportunity, I would just sit down with him and pick his brain, questioning everything. To be in his presence would be one more thing crossed off my bucket list. When I was a kid, my father loved showing me all of Mel's work and as I got older, I developed an even bigger interest. I know all the lines to Young Frankenstein, Space Balls and Robin Hood Men in Tights. I even perfected Tracey Ullman's character Latrine's accent, She's another person I'd love to have a conversation with.
The American Masters biography has given insight into one of the most prolific writers, and it's amazing to learning new things about someone so consistent. For instance, Mel's father died when he was two and his mother was alone raising four boys, working as a seamstress; he was in the Navy; he wasn't sure if he even wanted to be in comedy; he regretted the decisions he'd made in his first marriage and he tried to up for them in his marriage to Anne Bancroft. It's almost like it's purging his soul, as my aunt Mame would say.
Have you seen the American Masters on Mel Brooks, what did you think? Should they have focused more on his movie and theater career than his TV or was it equal?