It’s Good To Be The King: Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks!

Mel Brooks. Courtesy of Ferne Pearlstein

Mel Brooks is one of the first people I think of when it comes to comedy.  Today, he celebrates his 91st birthday.

Together with Carl Reiner, they created The 2000 Year Old Man.  While doing the routine for their friends, comedian George Burns told them to record an album or he would have stolen it from them.  Steve Allen was also one of those who approached them and if not for him, the album likely doesn’t get made.  It did and it was a hit.

Brooks was a part of one of the greatest comedy writing rooms of all time with his work on both Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour.

With Buck Henry, Brooks co-created Get Smart, the James Bond spoof that ran from 1965-1970 starring Don Adams as Agent Maxwell Smart.  Brooks was only involved with the pilot.

In 1968, Brooks made his directorial debut with The Producers.  Because of the film touching on subjects considered to be taboo at the time, it almost wasn’t even made.  Distributors and exhibitors didn’t even want to go near it because of the subject of the musical in the film.  It’s because of this film that Brooks was interviewed in The Last Laugh.

Even though it wasn’t a hit with either distributors or exhibitors, it was released as an indie film and led Brooks to an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Brooks went on to direct a number of movies including The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, History of the World Part 1, Spaceballs, Life Stinks, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.  Three of his movies were honored by the American Film Institute when they released their 100 Years, 100 Laughs list to honor comedies: Blazing Saddles (#6), The Producers (#11), and Young Frankenstein (#13).

Even though AFI didn’t honor it, Spaceballs is one of the funniest films I’ve seen.  The Star Wars satire really did its job.  Lucas gave him permission as long as the film didn’t have any merchandising.  A few years ago in an interview, Rick Moranis spoke about the interest in making a sequel.

Mel wanted to do a sequel after it became a cult video hit. It wasn’t a box office hit. It was a cult video hit, and MGM wanted to do a sequel. And my idea for it was Spaceballs III: The Search for Spaceballs II. And I was unable to make a deal with Mel. I couldn’t make a deal.

Moranis says he was “unable to make a deal” but that the sequel was something that the actor would have liked to do.

Brooks appeared on a podcast in early 2015 and said he would love to do a sequel.  The fact that it’s 2017 and there’s not much news on this front leaves me to believe that the project is likely not going to happen.  Complicating matters, cast members John Candy, Joan Rivers, Dick Van Patten and Dom DeLuise have all died since the movie came out.

To the man who has made so many comedies that have impacted my life, I salute you and wish you the happiest in birthdays.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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