Mel Brooks is the grand master of movie satire and one of Hollywood's most successful and autonomous filmmakers. He was born Melvin Kaminsky to a Russian Jewish family on June 28, 1926, in Brooklyn. In 1964 he married actress Anne Bancroft.
Brooks' career began in the forties in the military. He was serving as a combat engineer in the US Army, and took part in the deactivation of land mines after the Battle of the Bulge. After the battle the Germans broadcasted propaganda to the American troops via loudspeakers, and Brooks was known to respond by doing an Al Jolson imitation of "Toot Toot Tootsie." During this time Brooks also organized shows for fellow servicemen.
After returning to the states, Brooks began working as a stand-up comedian in the "Borscht Belt"- a string of Catskills resorts, and changed his name to avoid confusion with the musician Max Kaminsky. On the resort scene Brooks gained little income but earned great personal satisfaction. He was known for his odd antics, including during one show jumping fully clothed into a swimming pool, which earned him a few laughs. His first acting role was in Red Bank, New Jersey, starring in Clifford Odets' drama "GOLDEN BOY."