Gallagher, melon-smashing comedian who hurled food into audience, dies at 76
By Associated Press / December 13, 2012
Los Angeles — After a long stage career in musical theater, actor Mel Brooks was known for his outrageous comedy routines. In the 1960s and 1970s he was known for his roles in “Blazing Saddles” and “Him or Me.”
In a career spanning more than 50 years, he was also known for his off-stage antics.
Brooks died Friday of complications from pneumonia at his home in Los Angeles and was 76.
Brooks was renowned for his role in “Blazing Saddles” and his film roles in “Key Largo” and “The Producers.”
But he was also known for his live act, in which he often smashed a variety of food during his routines. His act often included a mix of singing, shouting, dancing and, at times, smashing fruit and vegetables.
“Mental illness did not come into play for me at all, I was just a happy, bright, loving, happy guy and he had a funny, good, funny, happy life and it’s sad,” Brooks said in a 2009 interview with Time magazine. “You never get over it and you always wish that you could erase whatever you did, but you can’t. That’s a tragedy in my life, but I’m thankful for the life I had and hope to one day have another.”
Brooks first joined the cast of “Blazing Saddles” in 1969, and appeared in the classic movie with John Candy, Chevy Chase and Tom Berenger. In addition to singing, he had a variety of characters, from cowboys riding on a rodeo to a cowboy in a circus.
In 1976, at the age of 39, he became one of the youngest actors nominated for the Oscar for best actor — the only actor in history to be nominated four times for the same accolade.
His other movie roles included “Blazing Saddles,” “King Kong” and “Lethal Weapon.”
In the ’70s and ’80s, he starred in several sitcoms, including the revival of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the short-lived “Caddyshack.”
He also became a television movie star