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Mel Brooks Wins Lifetime Recognition From American Film Institute

Image: Mel Brooks Wins Lifetime Recognition From American Film Institute

By Ken Mandel   |  

Mel Brooks didn't have High Anxiety over his latest accomplishment, when the prolific comic film director, writer, actor and songwriter received the American Film Institute's lifetime achievement award.

Many Hollywood elite attended the ceremony to honor the 86-year-old producer of classic films Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and The Producers.

"Movies saved my life," he told the audience full of celebrities after accepting the award from fellow director Martin Scorsese.

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Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg applauded Brooks via video, while Robert DeNiro, David Lynch and Larry David were among those in attendance, the BBC reported. Actor Martin Short opened the presentation at the Dolby Theatre with a song-and-dance medley of tunes from Brooks' movies.

"The word genius is used a lot in Hollywood, so I might as well call Mel one," Short said.

David joked that his fear of Brooks made him afraid to try comedy.

"Mel Brooks didn't get me into comedy, he kept me away from it," David said. "I spent years doing nothing because of him."

Brooks has done plenty since coming into the world as Melvin James Kaminsky on June 28, 1926. In the 1950s, he was a writer for Sid Caesar's hugely successful comedy variety series, "Your Show of Shows," which also featured writers Carl Reiner and Neil Simon.

One famous sketch he performed with Reiner was "The 2000-year-old man," and the two would also create the television show, "Get Smart."

The funnyman extraordinaire is one of 11 entertainers who has won an Oscar, a Grammy, an Emmy and a Tony Award. He is the 41st recipient of the AFI honor, a list that also includes Jimmy Stewart, James Cagney, Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Poitier and Spielberg.

"Mel has made his own tradition of greatness, and it's that tradition -- drawing from the past, honoring it, toying with it, vamping on it, extending it to places wise men, very funny men previously feared to go – that's what we're celebrating here and honoring tonight," Scorsese said.

"Mel has always made his own way, and he brought us all along for the joyride," Scorsese added.

The evening was anything but serious, with many poking fun at Brooks at a private dinner held at the Dolby Theatre.

"We are going to miss you so much, Mel," comedian Jimmy Kimmel said. "You were one of the greats. Rest in peace, my friend."

Brooks answered during his acceptance speech. He shouted an expletive at Kimmel, then added, "I'm not gonna die."

His movies certainly won't, including 'Springtime for Hitler' from 1968's 'The Producers':





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Mel Brooks didn't have High Anxiety over his latest accomplishment, when the prolific comic film director, writer, actor and songwriter received the American Film Institute's lifetime achievement award.
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