The Sound of the Crowd

But in parentheses?

Anne Bancroft has died in New York. And I mean no disrespect to her or her distinguished body of work (The Oscar, the Tony, The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, Agnes of God…).

But what I thought of first was her husband.

By all accounts Bancroft and Mel Brooks were one of the greatest, and seemingly most unlikely, of show biz love stories. They were married for over 41 years, after Brooks approached her at a rehearsal for a play she was in with the words, “I’m Mel Brooks–I’d kill for you.”

He liked to joke that when he told his mother (Jewish, in case you hadn’t heard) he was bringing home the Italian women whom he planned to marry, her response was, “That’s fine, dinner will be on the table. If you need me, my head’ll be in the oven.” But that when she met Bancroft, she immidiately concluded that her son wasn’t good enough for her.

And I’m thinking of the one film in which they co-starred (although she played cameo roles in a couple of his pictures), To Be Or Not To Be. This is a movie which fits into the category with the remake of The Manchurian Candidate and Psycho II: Films that are probably as good as they could be, considering they never should have been made.

But it’s a love letter to Bancroft, shooting her like she was a ’40s movie star.

In reading about Bancroft, the picture forms of a perceptive woman with a good sense of humor about herself and her craft, and it is easy to see what attracted Brooks. My good thoughts are with him and all her family and friends this morning.


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