5 things you didn't know about Mel Brooks
New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Mel Brooks is a comedy legend, an iconic movie star and a famous writer/director/composer; that much we know.

But here are five interesting tidbits about the man, born Melvin Kaminsky, that you may not have known:

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1. He is one of only 15 "EGOT" winners.

The rarest of feats, an "EGOT" refers to a person who has won the top awards across all of the major award categories: An Emmy (TV), a Grammy (Music), an Oscar (Movies) and a Tony (stage).  He was the eighth person to do so, first having won an Outstanding writing Emmy in 1967, along with Sid Caesar, for their work on "The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special." Two years later, Brooks won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for "The Producers." His first Grammy came in 1999, for his "2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000" album. Finally, he won three Tonys in 2001, all for the stage adaptation of "The Producers." Along the way, he picked up two more Grammys ("The Producers" albums) and three more Emmys for Guest Acting in the TV show, "Mad About You." By the way, with four Emmys, 3 Grammys, and 3 Tonys, should Mel Brooks ever win another Academy Award, he would be the first to EGOT more than once.

2. Mel served in World War II and fought at The Battle of the Bulge.

Private Kaminsky joined the Army at age 17 and was assigned to the elite Army Specialized Training Program. In 1944 he was sent to Europe as part of the 1104th Engineer Combat Group and participated in the Battle of the Bulge, although Mel has added he was not a part of the most intense portions of that battle. His most harrowing responsibility was to advance ahead of the front lines, and diffuse enemy land mines. In pure Mel fashion, he has been quoted as saying: "War isn't hell. War is loud. Much too noisy. All those shells and bombs going off around you. Never mind death. A man could lose his hearing."

3. Mel has not appeared in a movie in nearly 20 years but has maintained a career as a popular voice-actor.

Although Brooks has made cameo appearances on a few TV shows over the years, he has not appeared on-screen in a film since 1999. But he has provided voice work for several movies, most notably as Vlad in the "Hotel Transylvania" animated film series. He also voiced Albert Einstein in 2014's "Mr. Peabody and Sherman," and has dubbed his voice over English-released foreign films such as "Leap!" and "The Guardian Brothers." And voice-work is nothing new for Mel: His voice first appeared in his own film, "The Producers," as the voice that sings the iconic song, "Springtime for Hitler," and he makes the cat noises in "Young Frankenstein." Perhaps his least-known voice work is as the talking toilet, Mr. Toilet Man, in 1990's "Look Who's Talking Too."

4. Mel originally turned down the Kennedy Center Honors, because Bush was President.

According to an interview with NPR, Mel Brooks originally turned down the award when it was offered to him during the George W. Bush administration. The Honor - bestowed annually to those in the performing arts for their lifetime contributions to American culture - was originally offered to Mel a few years before he actually received the award in 2009.  According to the NPR interview, Mel said: "I shouldn't say this...but I'll say it anyway...I was offered this — the Kennedy Center Honors — maybe a year or two before, and I said, 'Well, I'm going to wait for another president if I'm still alive if you don't mind.' I just didn't feel comfortable when Bush was president to accept the honors...Had I not gotten 110 awards — you know, I'm an EGOT, so I don't need anymore...The Kennedy Center Honors, at the moment, I didn't need them...The only award I haven't received, I think, is Woman of the Year, and I don't know if that's not in the works. Just as an honorary Woman of the Year. I may get that too, but I'm not looking for it."

5. Mel Brooks continues to make public appearances across the world.

Despite being mostly retired when it comes to show-business, Mel Brooks still makes frequent appearances on stage in the States and in the UK. Throughout 2017, "An Evening with Mel Brooks" played to sold-out theaters, featuring Mel on stage giving tidbits and telling stories about his life and career. At age 91, he played Vegas for the first time in 2017. Even now, Mel continues his live in-theater shows like the upcoming "Mel Brooks Live: Back in the Saddle Again!" tour. Mel Brooks it seems is a force of nature that isn't going to be slowed down by age.