HE S A M EL Writer, director and actor Brooks to b honoured tonight with special Bafta a
THE madcap genius of Hollywood legend Mel Brooks will be celebrated tonight with one of British cinema’s highest honours. and became one half of a comedy duo with Carl Reiner. By 1963 he had written a Broadway musical, All American, and in 1965 had a TV hit with the James Bond-style spoof Get Smart.
Three years later he made his first feature film The Producers and won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Over the following decades everything he touched seemed to turn to box office gold, from the Star Wars spoof Spaceballs to The Elephant Man with John Hurt, who died last month.
The Producers also became a Broadway hit and Mel even returned to his musical roots by creating soundtracks.
His career so far includes 50 credits for acting, 42 for writing, 22 as a producer, 12 as director and 24 for soundtracks. He even turned up in The Simpsons.
His best friend and comedy partner Carl Reiner explained: “He became an entity. And that entity wrote some of the best and most memorable movies of all times.
“I mean, to this day farting is OK because he wrote a movie cal called Blazing Saddles.” Spoof western Blazing Saddles, starrin starring the late Gene Wilder and Cle Cleavon Little, is listed by the Am American Film Institute as the s sixth funniest movie ever.
Its satirical take on racial prejudice proved that parody could succeed in Hollywood and is seen as the trailblazer for many 80s films such as Airplane and Police Squad.
It was also the first film on which Mel and Wilder worked together. They met through Mel’s second wife, The Graduate actress Anne Bancroft.
Mel once told how Gene could not understand why he was funny and asked: “They’re always laughing at me. Why are they laughing at me?”
Mel retorted: “Look in the mirror. Blame it on God!” It was the start of a lifelong friendship and working relationship.
After Gene’s death, aged 83 last August, Mel said: “It’s a big shock. I’m still reeling. No more Gene. I can’t call him. He was such a wonderful part of my life.”
Gene will be missed by Mel tonight as he collects the highest honour of the EE British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London. He joins other s legends given the award, in Charlie Chaplin, Spielberg, Dam Dench, Alfred H – the very first rec 1971 – and last year Sidney Poitier.
The Fellowship recognise an “outsta exceptional contribut TV or game”. Amanda Berry O Executive of Bafta, said: “is a truly unique a ented film maker. W to award him the F highest honour of
Billy Crystal, wh since 1976 and wo 2015 TV series The “He is so sharp. He is a geni the most naturally funny pers a delicious guy!”
Actor Cary Elwes, who play 1993 movie Robin Hood: Me “Congratulations, Mel, on y Bafta Fellowship. You should
Mel has been married twic Florence Baum, who he had th But the love of his life was ac
They met during rehearsa Como Variety Show in 1961 a on the set to find where Ann that night so he could “bump
They married in 1964 and h was one of the strongest marria until her death from cancer i
Mel has said that he “coul of her” describing Anne as e around. He said: “Anne and during the marriage. We bot really important and what lov doing things for each other m
Anne and Gene may not be him tonight but Carl Reiner for both of them.
He said: “I call him my bes fuller because I have had Me
Mel is one of only 12 Ego have won the four awards, an Oscar and Tony.
But after tonight he will h on his shelf for one more – a