LOS ANGELES — Writer/ director/ producer/ actor and all-around funnyman Mel Brooks has been named the recipient of the 41st American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award, it was announced Friday morning.
“Mel Brooks is America’s long-reigning king of comedy — as he taught us long ago, it’s good to be the king,” Howard Stringer, chairman of AFI’s board of trustees said in a statement about the man behind the trailblazing comedies “Young Frankenstein,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Producers” and “Spaceballs,” to name just a few projects. “He’s a master of an art form that rarely gets the respect it deserves, and it’s AFI’s honor to shine a bright light on laughter by presenting Mel Brooks the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award.”
The 86-year-old Brooks joins such previous winners of the prestigious award as Shirley MacLaine, Tom Hanks, John Ford, James Cagney, Jack Nicholson, Barbra Streisand, Clint Eastwood, Sidney Poitier and both Kirk and Michael Douglas.
Brooks will be given the award at a gala tribute on June 6, 2013, in Los Angeles, which will be broadcast on TNT.
Brooks, one of only 14 entertainment figures to have been awarded a grand slam of prizes in the arts with an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony, was married to the late Oscar-winning actress Anne Bancroft. He began his career as a stand-up comic in the Catskills and as a writer on the classic early 1950s NBC comedy variety series “Your Show of Shows.”
He and “Your Show of Shows” regular Carl Reiner became fast friends and would do improv routines that lead to their “The 2000 Year Old Man” comedy albums and books. Brooks also teamed up with Buck Henry to create the long-running 1960s NBC comedy series “Get Smart.”
The 1963 animated short, “The Critic,” which he conceived and narrated, earned the Academy Award for best animated short. He wrote and directed the classic “The Producers” with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, for which he won the Oscar for best screenplay. In 2001, he turned “The Producers” into a smash Broadway musical earning a record 12 Tony Awards.
Brooks also has shown a serious side. He was executive producer of David Lynch’s acclaimed 1980 Oscar-nominated film “The Elephant Man.”
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