It's Good to Be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks

Overview

This book traces the extraordinary life and career of Mel Brooks, who has ridden a wave of show business success perhaps unsurpassed by anyone of his generation. Offering many insights into the wacky world of Brooks and his many collaborators, as well as an intimate look into his successful marriage to the brilliant and beautiful actress Anne Bancroft, It's Good to Be the King might just be the most delightful, engaging, and entertaining biography you'll ever read.

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It's Good to Be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks

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Overview

This book traces the extraordinary life and career of Mel Brooks, who has ridden a wave of show business success perhaps unsurpassed by anyone of his generation. Offering many insights into the wacky world of Brooks and his many collaborators, as well as an intimate look into his successful marriage to the brilliant and beautiful actress Anne Bancroft, It's Good to Be the King might just be the most delightful, engaging, and entertaining biography you'll ever read.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Parish, author of many books including Katharine Hepburn: The Untold Storyand Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flaps), here traces the life and career of mirthmaker Mel Brooks from the Borscht Belt to Broadway. Born Melvin Kaminsky, he grew up as a Brooklyn classroom clown, honing his stage skills in the Catskills before arriving in WWII France as an army combat engineer. The bombastic Brooks clawed his way into early television as a writer for Sid Caesar: "I was aggressive. I was a terrier, a pit bull terrier. I was unstoppable. I would keep going until my joke or my sketch was in the show." Caesar's shows were a launchpad, catapulting Brooks into a multifaceted comedy career that embraced theater (Shinbone Alley) and sitcoms (Get Smart), recordings (the 2000 Year Old Man series) and acting (Mad About You). He began directing in 1968 with The Producers, followed by the equally hilarious Blazing Saddlesand Young Frankenstein. Along the way, he picked up Emmys, Tonys, a Grammy, an Oscar and Anne Bancroft, whom he married in 1964. Brooks's probing self-insights and clever quotes abound. While his sense of timing, delivery and charming goofiness may not always translate to the written page, readers will be satisfied with the details unearthed by Parish's exhaustive research. 16 b&w photos. (Mar.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Parish, the ubiquitous author of many a film-genre work (e.g., Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops), has compiled a serviceable popular biography of comic genius Mel Brooks. Although readers get the gist of the entertainer's life story, Parish depends too heavily on quotes from secondary sources to make up for the lack of original interview material and unevenly distributes the content, overemphasizing Brooks's quick-tempered mentor, Sid Caesar, and rushing through the highlights of the past 20 years of this seriously funny entertainer. Additionally, Parish tries too hard to psychoanalyze the complicated ego of a very private individual. However, his attention to the mutual devotion between Brooks and his late wife, the actress Anne Bancroft, is well paid and right on target. Brooks, the unquenchable, self-driven risk taker who made a lifetime metamorphosis from Catskills tummler to television writer/film director/Broadway producer, begs for a more scholarly treatment in print. This biography is good for satisfying the curiosities of new and old fans who've seen the smash revival of The Producers, but not much else. For larger public libraries only.
—Richard A. Dickey

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470225264
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 2/26/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 406,314
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

James Robert Parish, a former entertainment reporter, is the author of numerous books on the entertainment industry, including Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops, the Hollywood book of Breakups, and the Hollywood Book of Extravagance: The totally Infamous, Mostly Disastrous, and Always Compelling Excesses of American's Film and TV Idols.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

1. Out of the Ashes of Despair.

2. Born into the Spotlight.

3. The King of the Street Corner.

4. Hello and Good-bye to Brighton Beach.

5. Swimming in the Borscht Belt.

6. Off to War.

7. Becoming Mel brooks.

8. Hal Caesar!

9. Smashing into the Ranks.

10. Your Show of Shows.

11. Living on the Edge.

12. On the Torturous road to Success.

13. Broadway, Love and Marriage.

14. Farewell, Caesar.

15. Unraveling.

16. A Wacky Man for the Millenniums.

17. A Season of Many Changes.

18. A remarkable New Love.

19. Back to Broadway and Beyond.

20. Becoming the Critic.

21. Getting Smart.

22. Flaunt It, Baby.

23. Jumping in Front of the Cameras.

24. Back in the Running - Again.

25. A Monster Hit.

26. On the Hollywood Treadmill.

27. Stretching His Career Horizons.

28. A Mighty Monarch at Last.

29. Next Stop, Outer Space.

30. Back to Work.

31. Comedy - Tonight!

32. Carrying On.

Mel Brooks's Film, Stage, and Television Credits.

Bibliography.

Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2008

    It's BORING to Be the Reader . . . of this book!

    What a disappointment this book is! Instead of personal accounts and funny stories about Mel Brooks, this book reads like a bad fifth grade book report detailing from a distance one step-by-step utter boring detail after another of the events in Brooks' life. I don't know how this author managed to make Mel boring to a Brooks fan like me, but he sure did!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    Mel Brooks has had an incredible career in television, films, and theater. James Robert Parish's book puts it all in perspective. Believe it or not, there have been many setbacks and failures in the life and career of a man most of us think of as hugely successful. Parish, who has written many fine Hollywood biographies, does an excellent job of telling the story of Brooks' life, extensively covering the personal and professional. It's an interesting, entertaining book that also includes a nifty section detailing Brooks' entertainment credits. I particularly enjoyed the behind-the-scenes information about the making of Young Frankenstein as well as the gossip concerning his improbable marriage with Anne Bancroft.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2007

    A reviewer

    The life of Mel Brooks has been a scattered affair with Sid Caesar highs and Robin Hood lows. In between has been a rogue's gallery of memorable screen characters including Max Bialystock in The Producers to Madeline Kahn's unforgettable Lili von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles plus the best screen work Don DeLuise has ever done. Parish's book's a page-turner and includes a compelling look into his remarkable marriage to movie great Anne Bancroft. 'When he told his mother he was marrying an Italian Catholic divorced actress he couldn't hear her reply as her head was in the oven.' By this account it was a happy union for both with Bancroft's input into it in minor caps as per their remake of To Be or Not to Be. Brooks comes across as an egomaniacal funnyman who always wants to make people laugh but on his terms. There was a time when his name meant box-office gold and it's still golden, if a bit tarnished, by the stage musical of his biggest hit The Producers, a low point in tastelessness even for him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2007

    A Surprising Love Story

    James Robert Parish turns out another one of his interesting books on 'Hollywood' with this biography of funnyman Mel Brooks. If you're a Brooks fan - I am! I am! - then you'll want to read it. For me, the most interesting aspect was Parish's words about the marriage of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. Not very much had been written about this most unlikely coupling of two very talented - and totally different - people. What a love story! After reading Parish's book, I was sad that the married couple didn't make more films together. But then, maybe that's why their marriage worked so well, for so long.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2007

    A bit lazy

    I think the author was a bit lazy in compiling this book. There were practically no first hand interviews. He relied heavily on reviews of Mr. Brooks' movies rather than focusing on what it was like making these movies because he never spoke to anybody. It was a good read but I would like to have had more information on what it was like to work with this person.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2007

    Looking Back at Comedy History

    The life of Mel Brooks reads like a history of comedy from the last 60 years - from the Borscht Belt resorts to recordings, early T.V. theater, movies to Broadway, Brooks has done it all. Along the way he has given us many comedy classics such the 2,000 year old man recordings, Get Smart on T.V. , movies such as Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. There were many low points and forgettable shows, but just when you think he had been forgotten, Mel Brooks roared back with the hugely successful Producers musical on Broadway. Mr. Parish has wonderfully described a life of creative ups and downs and working with many comedy greats such as Sid Ceaser, Jerry Lewis, and Carl Reiner. There are also great desciptions of life in the old Jewish sections of Brooklyn and summers in the Catskills. And with a musical based on Young Frankenstein on the horizon - we can be sure there is more to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2007

    Solid Account

    James R. Parish's biography of Mel Brooks is well worth reading because the author tries to understand -- and tries to make the reader understand -- the man behind the comic facade. Some think Brooks is a genius. Others can't stand him. But his is undeniably one of the most curious and intricate entertainment personalities of the second half of the 20th century. 'It's Good to Be the King' takes you there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2007

    Seriously Entertaining

    Anyone - especially anyone who leanred to love movies by watching Mel Brooks' 'The Producers', 'Blazing Saddles' and 'Young Frankenstein' - will thoroughly enjoy this book. Particularly interesting are the stories of Brooks work in early television and his little-known personal life - including a moving account of his marriage to Anne Bancroft.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2007

    Another Winner from Parish

    Another Winner from Parish, March 3, 2007 Reviewer: M. L. Kennedy 'movie nut' (Mitchell, SD) - See all my reviews There is simply no more reliable and readable commentator on show business than Jim Parish. His knowledge is seemingly inexhaustible. In taking on Mel Brooks, he delves far deeper than most would dare. Brooks is certainly more complex than his most full throttle hysterical movies would suggest, witness his long marriage to Anne Bancroft and the variety of entries on the Brooks resume. As for It's Good to be King, it is fully up to the Parish standard. Peppered with such delicious supporting players as Sid Caesar, Cloris Leachman, and Buck Henry, and devoted to detailed coverage of Brooks' most beloved movies, It's Good to be King is a delightful, infectious read that brings to life its crazy, wonderful subject.

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