Actor, producer, and writer Mel Brooks discussed life after winning an Oscar for his film The Producers. The entertainer says he faced financial hardship even after receiving the prestigious award.
Mel Brooks says he wasn’t making money
In 1969, Brooks won an Oscar for The Producers for best original screenplay. Roughly 30 years later, the film was transformed into a Broadway musical, starring actors Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. The production won 12 Tony Awards.
Despite the success of the 1967 film, Brooks reveals he had a tough time with his finances. Receiving an award didn’t translate into financial security.
“Up until Blazing Saddles, I was hanging on to show business with the skin of my teeth, not making any money,” says Brooks during an interview with Ruth Rogers on Ruthie’s Table 4 (presented by iHeartPodcasts). “The first movie I made was The Producers. Good movie—I won the Academy Award for the screenplay, but it just about broke even.”
Mel Brooks considered going back to television
Brooks admits he wanted to leave the film industry and return to television. He thought he might have success if he worked on projects for the small screen.
“The next [film] was The Twelve Chairs, which was a foreign movie, one of my best movies, but alas, it didn’t make a penny,” says Brooks. “So, I was thinking of going back to television where I was doing alright, I was making money, and then Blazing Saddles [was released]. That was an explosion—busted open the doors and windows and gave me enough money to buy a house and finally pay for dinner. [My wife, Anne Bancroft] didn’t have to slip me money under the table, and I was OK.”
Mel Brooks’ productions
Brooks gained Hollywood’s attention when he wrote the screenplay for The Producers. After that, he went on to write for Get Smart (1965–1970), The Twelve Chairs (1970), Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), High Anxiety (1977), Spaceballs (1987), and many more.
One of Brooks’ early acting roles was in a 1951 episode of The Milton Berle Show. After that, he appeared in the film Putney Swope (1969). His other movie appearances include To Be or Not to Be (1983), Life Stinks (1991), The Little Rascals (1994), and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995).
Brooks knew he wanted to be part of the entertainment industry after seeing the musical Anything Goes. He was captivated by Ethel Merman’s performance.
“She was amazing,” Brooks says during an interview with Fresh Air. “That show changed me and changed my life. My hands stung from screaming and applauding so much after it was over.
What Mel Brooks is doing now
History of the World: Part II is currently streaming on Hulu. The series, which is a comedic take on world history, is a continuation of Brooks’ 1981 movie. In addition to Brooks, Ike Barinholtz, Nick Kroll, and Wanda Sykes are executive producers.
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