Mel Brooks to Receive AFI Life Achievement Award

Brooks directed classic comedies like "Blazing Saddles" and "The Producers"

Last Updated: October 5, 2012 @ 6:37 AM

Mel Brooks, satirist extraordinaire, will receive the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award, the organization said Friday.

In a career that has stretched across six decades, from Broadway to Hollywood, Brooks has deftly interwoven sophisticated wordplay and jokes about flatulence in such films as "Blazing Saddles," "Spaceballs" and "Young Frankenstein." He won an Oscar for his screenplay to the 1968 film version of "The Producers."

He has been largely absent from the screen in recent years and is best known to a younger generation for his  musical adaptation of "The Producers" — an uproarious box office smash that netted him several Tony Awards. He also turned up on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" in 2004, when the focus of the season was on Larry David appearing in "The Producers."

"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. "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."

Brooks joins a list of stars and directors including Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Barbra Streisand, Tom Hanks, Sean Connery, Warren Beatty, Steven Spielberg, John Ford and Fred Astaire. Shirley Maclaine received the award last year. The award, considered one of the industry's highest honors, rarely goes to a comedian.

As a producer, Brooks favored more dramatic fare, backing David Lynch's Oscar-nominated "The Elephant Man," a 1980 biopic about the severely deformed Joseph Merrick.

Brooks will receive the award at a gala tribute in Los Angeles on June 6, 2013. The ceremony will be broadcast on TNT.

Here's a still-hilarious look at Brooks as Moses accepting the Ten Commandments in "History of the World — Part 1":