Celebrating Mel Brooks On His 90th Birthday: A Classic Routine

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Everyone thought he was crazy when Mel Brooks told them he was going to make a movie about a Broadway musical called "Springtime For Hitler." But "The Producers" now considered a satirical masterpiece, won the fledgling filmmaker a 1968 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and turned his career around.

While he's best known today for hilarious films like "Young Frankenstein," "High Anxiety" and "Blazing Saddles," and for his later in life Broadway success with THE PRODUCERS and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, during the 1950s Brooks was primarily known as a sketch comedy writer. His Broadway debut came penning scenes for the revue Leonard Sillman'S NEW FACES OF 1952, which featured his bit where a small-time crook, played by Paul Lynde, was upset because his son (Ronny Graham) wanted to be a musician instead of following in his footsteps.

He then turned to television, joining Carl Reiner, Neil Simon and Larry Gelbart on the writing staff of Sid Caesar's "Caesar's Hour," before heading back to Broadway as co-bookwriter of SHINBONE ALLEY, a musical based on Don Marquis' stories of "archie and mehitabel," about a poetry-writing cockroach and his alley cat friend.

His book for the 1962 musical ALL-AMERICAN (score by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams) had Ray Bolger playing a European college professor who takes a position at a football crazy American university and uses mathematical equations to turn their sorry football team into winners.

During this time, Brooks' outrageous personality and energy made him a popular television guest, especially when he and Reiner teamed up for routines where Brooks was interviewed as a 2,000 year old man.

In this 1967 clip from the Colgate Comedy Hour, Brooks and Reiner are introduced by Dick Shawn for a set that includes an explanation of how applause was invented.

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From This Author Michael Dale