HE S A M EL Writer, di­rec­tor and ac­tor Brooks to b hon­oured tonight with spe­cial Bafta a

The People - - NEWS FEATURES & - By Emma Don­nan

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

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