From the Back Cover
A deeply textured and compelling portrait of comedy giant Mel Brooks, covering his rags-to-riches life and triumphant career in television, film, and theater, from one of our greatest film biographers, Patrick McGilligan Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award-winner Mel Brooks was behind the camera (and sometimes in front of it) on some of the most influential comedy hits of our time, including The 2000 Year Old Man , Get Smart , The Producers , Blazing Saddles , Young Frankenstein , and Spaceballs . But before this actor, writer, director, comedian, and composer entertained the world, his first audience was his family. Mel Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky on his family's kitchen table in Brooklyn, New York, in 1926. Growing up in a household too poor to own a radio, Mel was a mischievous child whose role was to make the family laugh. But beyond boyhood, and after he reinvented himself as Mel Brooks, the laughs that came easily inside the Kaminsky home proved more elusive. Brooks's lifelong crusade to become a brand name of popular humor is at the center of this exhaustively researched and wonderfully novelistic look at Brooks's personal and professional life. McGilligan insightfully navigates the epic ride that has been the famous funny-man's life story, from his childhood in Williamsburg tenements to his breakthrough in early television--working alongside Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner--to Hollywood and Broadway peaks (and valleys). Funny Man offers a meditation on the Jewish immigrant culture that influenced Brooks, snapshots of the golden age of comedy, behind-the-scenes revelations about the celebrated shows and films, and a telling look at the four-decade romantic partnership with actress Anne Bancroft that superseded Brooks's troubled first marriage. In Funny Man , McGilligan lays bare the strengths and drawbacks that shaped Brooks's psychology, his willpower, his persona, and his comedy, delivering to us a great man's unforgettable life story and an anatomy of the American dream of success.