I clothed my anger in com­edy. It spared me a punch in the face

The People - - NEWS FEATURES & -

The 90-year-old writer, di­rec­tor, ac­tor and pro­ducer is to be pre­sented with the 2017 Bafta Fel­low­ship by Prince Wil­liam. Fans of hit films such as Blaz­ing Sad­dles and The Pro­duc­ers will say the hon­our has been a long time com­ing. Mel called it “hum­bling”. And in typ­i­cally wacky fash­ion he said: “I am not over­whelmed but I am def­i­nitely whelmed by this sin­gu­lar hon­our. “To be in­cluded among such iconic tal­ents is ab­so­lutely hum­bling. “In choos­ing me for the 2017 Fel­low­ship, I think Bafta has made a strangely sur­pris­ing, yet ul­ti­mately wise, de­ci­sion.” Mel’s life and as­ton­ish­ing ca­reer would make a good film in it­self. He was born Melvin Kamin­sky in Brook­lyn, New York, in June 1926. His fa­ther James, a Ger­man Jew from Danzig – now Gdansk in Poland – died when he was two. Mel was brought up by his mother Kate, orig­i­nally from Kiev in Ukraine. He was a sickly child who was reg­u­larly bul­lied. The tough child­hood is re­flected in his com­edy. Mel once ex­plained: “There’s an out­rage there. I may be an­gry at God, or at the world. “I’m sure a lot of my com­edy is based on anger and hos­til­ity. Grow­ing up, I learned to clothe it in com­edy to spare my­self prob­lems – like a punch in the face.” His life changed when top jazz drum­mer Buddy Rich taught him to play and by the age of 14 he was earn­ing money work­ing in night­clubs. Mel be­gan study­ing pyschol­ogy at col­lege but the Sec­ond World War in­ter­vened and he served in an en­gi­neer com­bat bat­tal­ion, where the work in­cluded de­fus­ing land­mines. Af­ter the war he worked as a drum­mer again be­fore break­ing into com­edy on ra­dio then TV. He wrote gags for va­ri­ety pro­gramme Your Show of Shows wh to­geth th 1. Blaz­ing Sad­dles – 1974 – £437,347,747 2. Young Franken­stein – 1974 – £315,702,586 3. Silent Movie – 1976 – £117,365,492 4. High Anx­i­ety – 1977 – £96,338,096 5. His­tory of theWorld Part 1 – 1981 – £78,786,385 6. Space­balls – 1987 – £67,418,350 7. Robin Hood: Men In Tights – 1993 – £59,650,057 8. Drac­ula – 1995 – £16,960,873 9. Life Stinks – 1991 – £6,731,543 10. The Pro­duc­ers – 1968 – £19,510,398

LOVE OF HIS LIFE: Mel and sec­ond wife Anne SAD­DLES STARS : Littl

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