Albert Brooks

Albert Brooks Biography

Comedian, Film Actor, Director, Actor, Television Actor (1947–)
For 40 years, Actor and comedian Albert Brooks has worked steadily in Hollywood, appearing both in other people's movies and in his own self-directed projects.


Albert Brooks was born July 22, 1947, in Beverly Hills, CA. He showed talent in stand-up comedy. He made his first major T.V. appearance in 1969. He then worked steadily in T.V., directing several short films. 1976, he took on his first big film role. For the next several years, he took small parts in popular movies until his role Broadcast News. For 40 years, he has worked steadily in Hollywood.

Early Life

Actor and comedian. Born July 22, 1947, in Beverly Hills, California, the youngest son of Thelma Leeds, a singer and actress, and Harry Parke, a radio comedian who went by the stage name of Parkya Karkus. Unable to pass up a good punchline, the two performers named their youngest son Albert Einstein, a name he changed as soon as he became an adult. Albert had two older brothers (including Bob Einstein, a comedian who performs as Super Dave Osborne) and a half-brother on his father's side.

When Brooks was 11 years old, his father died of a heart attack onstage at a Friar's Club roast of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Harry Parke slumped over into the lap of Milton Berle, whose calls for a doctor were initially met with laughter from the crowd, who thought he was joking. Following this tragedy, Brooks attended Beverly Hills High School, the alma mater of fellow actors Betty White, Rob Reiner and Angelina Jolie. After graduating, he went to Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh on an acting scholarship, but moved back to Los Angeles a few years later to start his career in show business.

Early Career

Brooks showed major talent on the stand-up comedy circuit. ''Everyone knew that Albert was head and shoulders above everybody else, a genius,'' said Reiner, a friend since high school. ''I'm talking people like Chevy Chase, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal basically acknowledging that you couldn't touch this guy. Whenever Albert started in, everyone pretty much backed off and just let him go.''

Brooks made his first major television appearance in 1969 on a Dean Martin variety show, doing a bit about a ventriloquist with no talent. He worked steadily in television, directing several short films for the first season of Saturday Night Live and appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. In 1976, he took on his first big film role in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, playing a campaign worker in love with a character played by Cybill Shepherd. In 1979, Brooks released Real Life, a mockumentary in which he played an obnoxious filmmaker (named Albert Brooks) who films an American family in an attempt to win an Academy Award. It was the first picture that Brooks wrote, directed and starred in. Though not a smash at the box office, the movie developed a cult following among fans of Brooks' self-mocking humor. He went on to write, direct and star in six more films.

Commercial Success

For the next several years, Brooks moved between small parts in popular movies (such as the boorish husband of Goldie Hawn who dies on his wedding night in Private Benjamin) and writer/director/star roles in little-seen films like Modern Romance. Then in 1985, Brooks wrote, directed and starred in Lost in America, a film about a couple who sell everything, drop out of society and bum around the country in a mobile home. To everyone's surprise (especially Brooks' own), the movie turned out to be a hit.

For his next project, Brooks played a neurotic, insecure television reporter ("Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive?") in Broadcast News (1987). The role earned him an Academy Award nomination and cemented his onscreen persona as a neurotic, emotionally complicated guy who has frequently been called the West Coast version of Woody Allen. "It's an interesting world we live in when Arnold Schwarzenegger can kill 115 people in a movie and he's fine," Brooks has said of his reputation. "I drive around a woman's house twice, and I'm neurotic. Go figure."

Later Work

For 40 years, Brooks has worked steadily in Hollywood, appearing both in other people's movies and in his own self-directed projects like Defending Your Life, Mother, The Muse and Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. In 1997, he married Kimberly Shlain, an artist. The couple has a son and a daughter.

Albert Brooks' career choices have been eclectic. He is a regular guest voice on The Simpsons and voiced a character in the 2003 Pixar hit Finding Nemo. His first novel, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, was published in 2011. An unusual Hollywood career? Maybe, but Brooks plays by his own rules. "If people don't love what you're doing," he has said, "that doesn't mean you're wrong.''

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