Mel Brooks (Melvin Kaminsky)

portrait of Mel Brooks

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Born: 28 June 1926, Brooklyn, New York

Born Melvin James Kaminsky, his father died when he was two. Small and sickly, he learned to avoid bullies by serving as the jester for older kids at school. After high school he studied psychology at Brooklyn University for a year before being drafted by the US Army, he served in North Africa in an engineering battalion, defusing mines. He worked the Borscht Belt clubs in the Catskills after the war, taking the name Mel Brooks and playing drums and piano until a comic took sick and he filled in successfully. Sid Caesar hired him as a writer for Caesar's Your Show of Shows in 1950, along with Carl Reiner and Neil Simon. Brooks and Reiner worked up a comedy bit in which Brooks was "The 2000 Year Old Man", performing only for friends at parties until he was spotted by a critic. Brooks moved to Hollywood in 1960, he and Reiner were soon doing their act on the Steve Allen Show. He went on to successfully produce both films and television, mostly parodies. He is one of only eleven artists to win the EGOT - an earned Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. (The first winner was Richard Rodgers, born on this date in 1902.) After a ten-year marriage ended in divorce, Brooks was married to Anne Bancroft until her death in 2005.

Biography from Wikipedia and IMDB

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