DAVID SUSSKIND - TV TALK SHOW 1970 - SUSSKIND RE-PLAYS A POPULAR EPISODE WITH GUEST STAR MEL BROOKS
HOW TO BE A JEWISH SON WITH MEL BROOKS ON THE DAVID SUSSKIND SHOW.(HF-YTV)
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SUSSKIND IN STUDIO WITH GUESTS
DAVID SUSSKIND INTRODUCES JEWISH MEN IN SHOW BUSINESS: MEL BROOKS, LARRY GOLDBERG, DAN GREENBURG (WRITER), GEORGE SEGAL (ACTOR), STAN HERMAN (DESIGNER), DAVID STEINBERG (WRITER).
David Steinberg 2:39
Jewish mothers let's talk about sharks.
Mel Brooks 2:44
Sharks sharks. This shark will never harm you. The shark is a benign creature of the sea. Of course, if you're thrashing about in the water, or if you're wearing shiny bracelets the shark will be attracted to you. on occasion the shark has followed people out of the water and has gone to the blanket and eaten their beach ball. One time the shark followed my brother Irving home on the Brighton local. And when upon being admitted to the apartment house, the shark entered his apartment apartment 4B and ate his entire family and a brand new hat in my brother's closet. Apart from that the shark, the shark. Shark. Shark is a pussy cat. we got to get back to Jewish mother. Let me tell you about my mother, my Jewish mother. She's about that thing. She's the Michael John of mother's fantastic mother. I have never seen to this day I live with my mother for good 22 years intimately. You know. I have never seen my mother's furniture to this day. Why? Because on every piece of furniture and on the lamps is a sheet to keep the dust right to keep dust off the furniture. But what really is criminal is that my mother has four great paintings, which we've never seen. We don't know what they are. He has a sheet over each paint.
David Susskind 4:31
She sounds like a very
Mel Brooks 4:33
and how about your mom?
David Susskind 4:35
She's She's lovely. I'll come to her
Mel Brooks 4:37
She's a pussycat and she does the kavat
David Susskind 4:40
Do you have any throbbing memories of your mother, Dan?
Dan Greenburg 4:45
Most of them are throbbing and filled with guilt.
David Susskind 4:48
What is the nature of a Jewish mother? She's special. You wrote a book about the Jewish mom.
Dan Greenburg 4:53
Yes, Well, the Jewish mother I think is an expert on instilling guilt into people and manipulating it in and so on my own mother when I came back for the first time, from moving to New York to Chicago, and was telling about the the wildlife in New York and was remarking to a bunch of the family about a party at which was smoke marijuana, and my mother kind of remained impassive throughout the whole thing. And then afterwards, she came up to me and she said, this, marijuana you, you smoked it. I said, Oh, no. She said Good. Because you know how allergic you are?
David Susskind 5:34
She wasn't upset. Or the party, the women where you will come from Kansas City. Yes. How our mothers out there?
Larry Goldberg 5:43
Well, Jewish people in Kansas City go underground. You know, like in New York, all the Gentiles are Jewish. So in Kansas City, so all the Jewish people are Gentile. So we had a little grocery store Goldbergs market, she used to tell me to eat and eat until I started putting a lot of weight. But you know, Jewish people in Kansas City, as soon as the doors closed, they really become Jewish. I kept eating and eating until she said, stop eating for a while. And then I weighed 320 pounds. So
David Susskind 6:09
You really did? 320 pounds from your mother's instruction.
Larry Goldberg 6:14
Yeah. But then I started losing now I'm 160. But she just had kept keep eating and eating and eating.
David Susskind 6:20
Well you look terrific.
Larry Goldberg 6:23
I don't feel so good.
David Susskind 6:25
You're currently starring in Where's Papa?
George Segal 6:27
David Susskind 6:27
In which you try to do away with your mother by a variety of means.
George Segal 6:31
David Susskind 6:32
some physical and violent?
George Segal 6:33
David Susskind 6:35
Did you have any particular identification with that part?
George Segal 6:38
complete, complete. It has nothing to do with my mother, Ruth Gordon. Right. Well, actually, Ruth Gordon has something to do with my mother, but the character that she plays has nothing to do with the character that my mother plays.
David Susskind 6:52
Right? Could you explain that?
George Segal 6:58
It is the story of of a man who's trying who's still at 38 or whatever. Still living with his mother, which I assume is a mother's dream.
Mel Brooks 7:08
A mother's dream is to be under the huppa with you.
David Susskind 7:12
No, no, no, no, please. No, no, no, this is this is television.
Mel Brooks 7:17
Just explain what the huppa is. It's not dirty. If you're a Jew, you'd understand David.
David Susskind 7:24
Mel Brooks 7:24
If you hadn't segwayed out so early. A huppa is a little kind of tent that is held by four people, usually the immediate family. They're invited to the eats later. And under under this tent, you are married and are in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony. So when I said your mother would like to be under the huppa, she'd really like to be wed on to you. That's all I mean.
David Susskind 7:45
Oh, I thought it was worse than that.
Mel Brooks 7:47
It's not under the sheets under the huppa
David Susskind 7:52
Did the character you played. It was such a clinging suffocating
George Segal 7:57
Why are you looking past me
David Susskind 8:00
Sorry. All right, George. Yes,
Mel Brooks 8:02
He has a bad
David Susskind 8:05
mother, Ruth Gordon. Yes. was such a suffocating wretched lady. Yes. Is that characteristic of the Jewish mother?
George Segal 8:14
Well, I am not a thought on authority on the Jewish mother. I after all grew up in Great Neck. I had a dog a collie dog, which is a gentle thing to have. I had a 24 inch bike, and I rode around the neighborhood with the dog. So I didn't eat much and she didn't care. So I'm not an authority.
Mel Brooks 8:35
Wait a minute a 20 a 24 inch bike. That's a short. That's a short 24 was called No 24 inches.
George Segal 8:46
I always had a 24 bike even when I was 18
Mel Brooks 8:50
That must be the size of the wheels. I mean, the whole bike can't be 24 inches
David Susskind 8:57
I think we're all we're all off on a digression
Stan Herman 9:00
I had a 28 and I'm like 4 foot 2
David Susskind 9:04
Stan Herman you are how tall
Stan Herman 9:06
I am five foot two, three, and I had a 28 bike that's been a problem for me. stretching my legs
Mel Brooks 9:12
Stan Herman 9:12
David Susskind 9:16
Stan Herman 9:16
David Susskind 9:18
How does your mother feel about your being a fashion designer? mothers don't rear their sons to be fashion designers
Stan Herman 9:23
no they don't. She's got lots of relatives who love it though. They live very close by she she accepted now I'm very successful. She accepted You see David I had two mothers my first mother gave me piano lessons gave me all the artistic things that I wanted. My second mother decided to take the piano out and as Mel said we had a small house mell and upstairs
David Susskind 9:25
not 24 inches
Stan Herman 9:40
No but we had we had a we had a like a small chamber that she came up so she took off the doors so that it looks bigger. My bedroom had no doors. Have you ever slept in that doors?
Mel Brooks 9:56
That's so that you don't do private things
Stan Herman 9:58
that's right that's what it's all about right? And on top of that, she took the lock off the John door I spend my whole life like this against the jon door
George Segal 10:08
Did you ever talk about this with her?
Stan Herman 10:10
No, I'm telling her now over television.
George Segal 10:14
You never discussed you have to do it here on a television.
Stan Herman 10:17
I had to do it on a television show.
David Susskind 10:18
stan, did you ever say Mom, wouldn't it be nice to have a bathroom door?
Stan Herman 10:23
No, she we didn't have the door. We had David we have the door. We didn't have the lock. I don't know whether there was a lock problem in Passaic New Jersey. But, but we just didn't. We just didn't have the lock on the door
David Susskind 10:32
Did it tend to open?
Stan Herman 10:34
It tend to open all the time. The most embarrassing moments.
David Susskind 10:37
So you never had a normal?
Stan Herman 10:38
No, no, no, no, no doors, no locks,
David Susskind 10:41
right. I'm coming right back to David Steinberg after this pause
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BACK IN STUDIO - INTERVIEW CONTINUES:
David Susskind 10:45
David Steinberg 10:52
David Susskind 10:55
Do You have any particular burden having been born in a very religious household? Your father was a rabbi.
David Steinberg 11:01
Yes. I've been there two things that I never really think about. And that is my mother and transvestites.
David Susskind 11:12
Could you tell me why? Why you chose not to think of these things?
David Steinberg 11:16
I don't know, David. I just never thought of it before. My mother. I don't think about my mother that much. You know,
David Susskind 11:23
does she is she living?
David Steinberg 11:27
Yes. I mean, we haven't spoken in the last five minutes. But she's alive. I have dreams. You know, I have dreams, as we all do.
David Susskind 11:35
What are some of your dreams
David Steinberg 11:38
I'm in the middle of this gigantic ocean. And I'm on a huge luxury liner. There's no one on board the entire ship except me and my mother. And we're in this grand ballroom. And we drink seltzer from Jared bone. And we dance to burn. I'm three and she's 52. And I'm just about to get her in my crib. And I wake up. And I'm like everyone else. Yeah. Every night every Tuesday, usually
David Susskind 12:18
every Tuesday. As a lay analyst. How would you feel about that?
Mel Brooks 12:26
You can see that the the filter, the disgusting dirtiness. We won't talk about that aspect. But the other things are very interesting. For instance, he says, we were all alone on a luxury line. Well, that can be interpreted very simply in Freudian terms as to people being alone on a luxury liner. That's why
David Susskind 12:52
I never would have thought of it that way.
Mel Brooks 12:54
That's the meaning behind that. And the other thing is ocean. The ocean is absolutely fetal stage, Fetal, meaning that your feet in the ocean, so therefor there is a salt water connotation to that. That probably gargling with salt water makes sense memory of being inside mama at a very early age. So analyzing it, I would say it's not hard to figure out because the dream is paper. Right? But it's difficult to go less so to speak.
David Susskind 13:32
I'm glad I asked you that yes clears up the whole dream. Dan, you in your book, you deal with such things as how to administer the third helping how to make guilt work. You explain how a mother makes guilt work?
Dan Greenburg 13:47
Well, for instance, I can tell you the effect it's had on me for instance, I'm now 34 years old, which is a fair a fairly old age for a person who must finish every single thing on his plate. Everything on everybody else's plate at the table. And even in restaurants going gets embarrassing going out other people's tables and saying listen, could you does you're not going to eat that I would be very glad to take it home. It's very embarrassing.
Mel Brooks 14:14
Does your mother say that carrot on your plate is so lonely for the carrot in your stomach.
Dan Greenburg 14:20
Yes, yes. That's the other curious thing that has happened which I attribute to my mother is that I feel anthropomorphic about about things like wastepaper, filth and like talking on the show. wastepaper I cannot throw out because I feel it is a rejection of the waste paper and so I save sheets of waste paper cardboard, I save string, old manila envelopes which I use again, I've never sent out or bought a new manila envelopes. You get a thing from I've received scripts from things crossed off on it. It's terrific. Apple sauce sauce jars. Empty Bufferin bottles.
Mel Brooks 15:00
I didn't see a glass till I was 38
David Susskind 15:03
what were you drinking out of?
Mel Brooks 15:04
fruit fruit jelly jars jelly, right? The wait an hour for it to get cold, right? Wait another hour for the cloud to make itself into water right? Because it's very white when it comes out of the tap. And then you smash into another jelly jar. You say confusion to the French I don't know what you said. We're just a confusion to the French. Very classic.
David Susskind 15:28
He interrupted you George
George Segal 15:29
No, I was just I haven't I find now as you talk about your composure that I doors in men's rooms on a problem to me I will tend if it's if it's like a hook handle, I will tend to get my pinky under the least part of the hand of what I feel the least number of people have opened the door by that because who knows maybe they haven't washed their hands. God knows I haven't.
David Susskind 15:51
This this is a heritage from your mother
George Segal 15:54
beats me where I got that from but he was talking about
Dan Greenburg 15:56
You're a source of contamination of public restrooms
David Steinberg 16:02
to California, because in California when you go to a men's room, you get called the Cavaleiro. I like to know when I'm coming out of a men's room for just what I did. I'm all of a sudden that Cavaleiro
Dan Greenburg 16:13
only certain people in men's rooms call you the Cavaleiro
Stan Herman 16:16
I have told me about the cooking but I I'm convinced that the Jewish mother thing about mothers being good cooks is is hogwash. My mother's a lousy cook. She always was a lousy cook. She cooks the same thing over and over again. lousier I think the lovely lady. She's a lovely lady, but a lousy cook. I come home on a Friday night for dinner and it's it's pot roast and it's so thin. And I tried to tell her how to make it
Dan Greenburg 16:40
But it's very tender right?
David Susskind 16:46
Do you have your secrecies that you think that came out of your boyhood out of your mother's supervision?
Stan Herman 16:52
Oh, probably Sure, didn't we? Oh, I think so.
Mel Brooks 16:59
But you do tend It's true. That's a very good point. You do tend to emulate characteristics of your mother subliminally without realizing it. For instance, I'm sure that Stan's mother had a mustache some otherwise why
Stan Herman 17:14
She was born. She was born in January, which is a mustache month.
Mel Brooks 17:18
I didn't know that. I thought it was I thought it was the month of the tiger to tell you the truth.
David Susskind 17:23
Do you have little phobias little
Mel Brooks 17:25
Do you want to see them?
David Susskind 17:30
Do you have eccentricities that you you know lay at the doorstep. boyhood experiences.
Mel Brooks 17:35
I was in analysis six years, and I could not launch a decent attack against my mother. I like my mother. I love my mother. If I could. I would go skinny dipping with my mother. I'm crazy about that lady, good natured, bright, fierce little woman that came over from Russia didn't speak the language never learned this language never learned Russian. Anyone talks like this. And yet gets to everywhere she wants to go she's a fantastic
David Susskind 18:10
How does she do it? Well, even when she gets on a on a subway
Mel Brooks 18:15
she gets on the subway. She says to the conductor. I'm writing my son. you know my television. She tells the conductor you know by Mel Brooks. She tells everybody
David Susskind 18:30
that gets her to Brighton.
Mel Brooks 18:32
Yes. Well, Mel Brooks, you must want to go to Kings Road right. You know the most Myron Cohn has influenced me more than my mother. Why? Because the two sides of me that do different things. Mel Brooks that strange amalgam marvelous pastiche that is me
David Susskind 18:51
to describe the comes from the two sides
Mel Brooks 18:57
Well the first side Sir Anthony Right. Clearly, Myron Cohen tells a joke he starts off like Anthony. There's not a trace, not a scintilla not the end of a Jewish accent. You don't know he's Jewish till he hits the joke. Right. Now, David, when he starts out he doesn't he doesn't like this right Myron Cohen. picture if you will. Right. Here we go. There were two gentlemen. Robert Hebraic persuasion who encountered each other on the reality one gentleman said to the other something about boarding public conveyance. And so both of them got on board of tram or bus. I don't really know what you call it. I don't know what you call it in the United States. And they were riding down one of the morvelous boulevards you have here in your lovely city, and one of the Jewish gentlemen turned to the other and said me It's good to practice to different people. Right? Right. You don't know he's Jewish until that Vbus
David Susskind 20:07
what's the other part of you?
Mel Brooks 20:09
And the other part of you is just a lot of Fred Astaire. You think I'm kidding? I'll show you a little. I'm puttin' on my white tie, tying up my black tie putting on my yarmulke
David Susskind 20:39
you're a dead ringer for Astaire your ringer? Yeah, they have to do the Fred Astair story.
Mel Brooks 20:46
David Susskind 20:48
Yes. And we'll be back in a minute
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BACK IN STUDIO - INTERVIEW CONTINUES:
David Susskind 20:49
before pushing on, I can't help wondering before you became famous celebrity how did your mother get to brighten up gentlemen were on. Before you became an international celebrity
Mel Brooks 20:49
By the way, did you read Judith Christie? review of the 12 chairs? The lowest salaries? Oh, yes, I did. Yeah, it was lousy, wasn't it? Now she gave us a very good review. She said it was a complete joy. And she said that I am. I'm the best thing that ever happened to film I did everything on that picture possible everything. I put them Sprockets at the side of the film, say the projectionists could thread it up.
David Susskind 21:39
Your modesty is overpowered
Mel Brooks 21:41
I lead you to your seat. You can see me there.Right to your seat. I wish you a good time and a hearty appetite. You bet chewing about
David Susskind 21:54
I was wondering, before you became a world figure of renown. How did your mother your mother get how did your mother get to where she was going?
Mel Brooks 22:05
I don't know what you mean.
David Susskind 22:07
She couldn't speak the language. She
Mel Brooks 22:09
just a little Jewish aggression. She pushed away through as a matter of fact. My mother lives in Miami now. And she just moved down and I said Are you afraid? You know, it's a completely different environment. Your children are not there. You don't have enough relatives. You know, I know that. It's fraught with people of your persuasion mom. But still, I mean, aren't you, you know, fight and scared. She said I came from Russia. That was a move already. From Russia to the United States. From New York to Florida. There's not such a big move. I mean, it's you know, so she really is a gutsy little Jewish lady. You know, she's a marvelous person. You know, my father died when he was 34. Dan. And my mother raised four, four boys sent us off to college. did a fantastic job.
David Susskind 23:05
Is your mother alive at the moment? Does she visit you often from Kansas City?
Larry Goldberg 23:10
Well, she took a long schlep up to see me in Kansas from Kansas City was about a 30 hour train ride. She was afraid to fly. She came in the pizzeria and she didn't touch the pizza. You know when in truth. It's not true. We have locks Goldilocks pizza locks and onions. Really Goldilocks Goldilocks pizza locks. We have a heart shaped feel about you're running a pizzeria. She doesn't talk a lot about it. I mean, I'm sure she'd rather me be a doctor lawyer.
Mel Brooks 23:36
Why did she say she said my son's in food?
Larry Goldberg 23:41
No, she says my son works in New York and he's a pizza schleper
Mel Brooks 23:44
A pizza schleper
George Segal 23:48
what's it like in Kansas City?
Mel Brooks 23:51
everything's up to date in Kansas City. well, they've gone about as far
David Steinberg 23:57
Do they have a ghetto there?
Larry Goldberg 23:59
no the Jews I said there's only 23,000 Jews who everybody Gentile I didn't meet a Jew till I was 25 is not because they're spread out over about 800 miles in Kansas City. I'm a hillbilly
Mel Brooks 24:10
I'll bet they together during pogroms. One big jew seller watch the Gentiles thunder by
David Susskind 24:26
One of the things one of the things I wondered about in his book is that section devoted to that moment in time when a Jewish mother discovers her son is engaged or about to make a commitment to you that's one of the tragic moments in the Jewish mother's life isn't
Dan Greenburg 24:42
Yeah well it's time for a complete about face I mean for the preceding in my case 30 years it's so when you're ready you know it's really and then the moment comes and and you introduce your intended to her and she says it's very nice, very nice girl. A lot of makeup wears a lot of makeup. She drinks I noticed she was drinking, drink before. I have nothing against drinking. Don't get me wrong, but I did see notice she was putting it away. I did notice you were putting it in. My mother is amazed that I will have a drink or two before dinner. And as a matter of fact, when we come Chicago to visit them, she will I'm now married to Nora Ephron Greenberg. She calls herself Nora Ephron. But actually she's my friend Greenberg. And she will say to my wife, am I talking to you? If you don't know me? No. This is George Segal. Yeah, she does know that. I don't know how she feels about that. But she will say to my wife, when I'm out of earshot. Is Dan still drinking? Does he drink a lot? Is it a problem? But anyway? What was your question
David Susskind 25:56
The reaction of the Jewish
David Steinberg 25:57
I haven't answered any question.
David Susskind 26:02
David. When you? Are you married?
David Steinberg 26:06
No, I'm not.
David Susskind 26:06
Have you ever been engaged?
David Steinberg 26:08
No, I haven't i i play around, you know. Fairly easy. I have to be asked. And that's pretty much it. But I want to talk about my mother. Yes.
David Susskind 26:19
How old are you?
David Steinberg 26:20
I'm 28. Yeah, the thing about my mother that you all care is my mother spoke Russian in Yiddish only in the house. And we're a very poor family. We came from very poor family now. Lately, it's been kind of nice to me. And I send a little money home. My mother doesn't speak English and she doesn't know any words. But now in the Yiddish you start to hear filtering through words like is that a network show?Today when I was in California, just yesterday, she said something totally in Yiddish and the end of the sentence was visa gates and the residual understands those things and she learns to adapt although
Mel Brooks 27:11
they do throw in and that is yiddish you know when she was spoken in Russia I'm sure they pick up some Russian words and poland the same and and in New York you hear it Haagen often subway Yeah, suddenly, you know, it's true that you get a smattering of a different language
George Segal 27:26
Are you both fluent in Yiddish?
Mel Brooks 27:32
I used to work in the Fourth Circuit as a as a an MC in a pool
David Susskind 27:36
thats how you started so I was just so I learned
Mel Brooks 27:39
but you're talking about
David Susskind 27:40
what's it like being an MC
Mel Brooks 27:41
shut up David? Got a heavy Jews, it got dynamite here. Okay, when I when I introduced my mother to my present wife who was not Jewish, I said,
David Susskind 27:54
oh, there must have been an interesting
Mel Brooks 27:55
yes, I said Mom, I want you to meet Annie and. And she knew that my wife was Catholic and not Jewish. And she said, sit down, make yourself comfortable. You know, take a piece of food and relax and now I'll be in the kitchen. My head will be in the oven. A big disaster. And then they came to know each other and my mother is head over heels in love with Annie in they are best friends
David Susskind 28:21
His wife is one of the gracious beautiful talented and Ann Bancroft I mean
Mel Brooks 28:27
It was nothing Did She convert you kidding. She don't have to convert she's a star. Yes, I converted I Brooks was I'll tell you why I converted I no longer a Jew. And I'll tell you the reason I'm no longer a Jew. Because when a Jew is in trouble when we when we panic, but we're in trouble. And we want to say, oh my god, I got Can you talk about you know, one of our expletives? And then we follow it with a sign. Now how are we going to follow it? Like if you're Catholic with like a Catholic says, oh my god, like you know, the right look of it. But what did you What do you come out? I mean, where do you go to triangle? That's a lot of work. By the time you're finished the second triangle?
David Susskind 28:38
David Steinberg 29:21
I was just suggesting that we get off of Mel because he's so hot. Now. You don't want to see him fade right in front. So I thought if I made this gesture, perhaps I get the focus. I'll talk until I get to a point. Here is here's the point. The point is, what your mind is the curses in a Yiddish home are very, very special and especially the curses that you get from a mother. They're unlike anything that you get in a Gentile home. They're very specific, and they sucker you in so as to give you the impression that it's not a curse. They say May you inherit a huge estate and on that huge estate, have 100 mansions In 100 mentions 100 beds and may you flip from bed to bed with malarial fever lovely May a barracks grow in your stomach barracks and army barracks oh but funny but it works
Mel Brooks 30:25
there is another one that says something about the true Jewish things lots of oxen Viet symbol if you cut into that
David Steinberg 30:30
grow like an onion with your head in in the earth
Mel Brooks 30:33
Alright now do this translate this okay zones to Esna trolley car
David Steinberg 30:46
you should eat a trolley car and steal the transfers
Mel Brooks 30:49
and steal the transfers actually add more to do with I believe
David Susskind 30:56
We'll be back with translations of all of this in a minute
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BACK IN STUDIO - INTERVIEW CONTINUES:
David Susskind 31:05
if you fellows don't mind, we're back. I know the best thing I can say to you is Where's papa? But that to me was a terribly funny movie. So immediately related to our stuff. Yes,
Larry Goldberg 31:15
What happened to the ending? George?
David Susskind 31:17
The ending of
Larry Goldberg 31:18
I saw the original ending
George Segal 31:19
You did see the original ending. Yes, well, original ending he gets into bed with his mother and
David Susskind 31:23
let's let's not discuss that.
George Segal 31:25
We shouldn't discuss that. That's going to be that as far as that's as much as I'm going to say right but let me just say that the audience who after they had been laughing for some time if you remember, they walked out just a little bit of shock. But it was it was the natural conclusion. I mean, he was either gonna kill her or something as well.
Larry Goldberg 31:44
Well, how do you spell your name? I always wanted to know why you spoke
George Segal 31:44
si eg E L.
Larry Goldberg 31:47
But they changed it
George Segal 31:49
Larry Goldberg 31:49
S E G A L
George Segal 31:50
well, there you are. What do you mean
Larry Goldberg 31:58
I didn't know I was wondering if you were Jewish or not, and I would have liked you more if you were Jewish. See what you
David Susskind 32:04
Why did you change your name?
George Segal 32:05
I didn't change my name. This man over here says my name is misspelled
David Susskind 32:11
Right? Yes. Like when you came home with
Mel Brooks 32:14
Did you ever hear such a meaningless account
Larry Goldberg 32:19
You changed your name too
Mel Brooks 32:19
I've never changed my name. I was I wasn't
David Susskind 32:22
Were you born Mel Brooks. What were you born?
Mel Brooks 32:26
George M Cohen there was, you know that I didn't want to run it.Actually, my mother's maiden name is Brockman. So I took Brooks. My father's name is Kaminski. And I was Melvin Kaminski. And I played the drums and I was booked on a date. You remember Max Kaminsky, the trumpet players very well. So when I showed up, they said where's the trumpet? I said I play drums they and they had booked Max Kaminsky and they got me so I figured Kaminsky with Kaminski no good right? So I I was Brooklyn for a while but I couldn't get it all on a drum made it Brooks Mel Brooks Don't be named now think of me now as a filmmaker 33 years later a filmmaker but um but I'm ladies and gentlemen rolling away one of the great since David fat Lee since David Lee. Mel Brooks. Now that's a dopey name for filmmakers. Mel brooks is good for old folks. That's a good name for that. Kaminsky if I'd stuck to my original name shop shop. Kaminsky I'm stuck with, here he is, nutty Mel Brooks.
David Susskind 33:37
I suppose there's no going back.
David Steinberg 33:39
Steinberg isn't a good name to be stuck with either a restaurant it's, you see, you should change your name and that's the American way is to adapt to normal you change yourself entirely. So instead of going from Steinberg to Stein you go from Steinberg just not possible then the next thing you do you change your nose to be normal. And the people who do this walk the streets. They have big eyes and big ears and I'm gonna duck their nose and then they marry people with similar characteristics. And then one Tuesday they wake up and they have a kid who has a nose like a macaque God's got a chain? I say I'm that's my cross to bear.
David Susskind 34:29
Did you ever think of changing your name?
David Steinberg 34:31
Never I thought of Buddy Steinberg. I stayed with David Steinburg
George Segal 34:38
I think you're one of the trailblazers, David in your name. So early on. When you when you came out as David Susskind and there was nobody with the name like that. There were no Jewish said your name,
Mel Brooks 34:49
but you don't know what he did. The real story. David started with a nose like Dick Cavett. born with a beauty tiny nose. And they said he wanted to go with the show business. And they did a whole big nose job broken it out so he could work in one, right? He was he was he was a very beautiful man asking for a dance.
David Susskind 35:25
Did you did you ever think about changing Segal?
George Segal 35:28
No, because by the time he was brought up No, it was about at that time. Yes, at that time in the 50s. Then there were all those those very beautiful boys who mostly were working for Warner Brothers. And they said that if I wanted to be in movies that I would have to change
David Susskind 35:42
I had a whole list of movie stars in the old days. Well, Tony Curtis was something else Cary Grant, John Garfield Kirk Douglas, all had other names
Mel Brooks 35:50
You mean they had each other's name. What do you say you know? Got to say that other names. John Garfield,
David Susskind 36:00
Tony Curtis was Bernie
Mel Brooks 36:02
And who so who was Cary Grant?
Larry Goldberg 36:05
Archie Leach. And Kirk Douglas was Izzy Dembski?
David Susskind 36:09
Mel Brooks 36:10
Really? Is he Dembski
Larry Goldberg 36:12
My name is Pat O'Brien.
Mel Brooks 36:14
Oh, God Would you go make a pizza
Stan Herman 36:18
David by the Jewish population for years, you never you never knew a designer with a Jewish name. That was in the 40s
Mel Brooks 36:26
They don't have names in the dress business Mr. P. Mr R. Mr G is here to see you
Stan Herman 36:41
but they didn't in the 50s and 60s, they finally took on some of the Jewish names the designers kept their names and Eddie Rosenstein. Yves Saint Laurent
David Steinberg 36:55
You know that 90% of the Jewish men under five foot one in New York City are William Morris agent.
Mel Brooks 37:01
you know, Larry Gelbart is a great comedy I do and he's a marvelous is a wonderful guy. He was he was interviewed, and they said, Who is your agent? And he said, I don't have an agent. I'm with the William Morris. So it's kind of an insight, but it was a wonderful he said to me, I started late at his doors.
David Steinberg 37:25
What is your mother's sign?
George Segal 37:28
August? I don't know what her sign
David Susskind 37:31
August what time of August?
George Segal 37:33
David Susskind 37:34
early August is Leo?
David Steinberg 37:35
George Segal 37:36
my mother's a Leo David. What are you getting at?
David Steinberg 37:40
I just, it's a very I just thought nothing
Stan Herman 37:44
is very significant to be a Leo mother. Well, I mean, you're the lion. The lion of the family. Was she a lioness was she did was she strong? What was your father for instance? What was his sign? Do you know what month he was born?
David Steinberg 37:55
You know, no, I got it.
George Segal 37:58
Do you know When I when my father was born.
David Steinberg 38:01
Just say one more sentence to me. And I could tell you just say anything and I could tie I have
George Segal 38:05
my father was a jolly man
David Steinberg 38:08
A jolly man? A query Pisces with a Gentile rising.
David Susskind 38:16
Why are Signs important
David Steinberg 38:18
They're not important. They're so unimportant that I chose to bring them up on the show.
David Susskind 38:27
I was I was on an interesting wicket a while back. Yeah. But you all touted me often and that had to do with that.
Mel Brooks 38:33
Perhaps that's a conceit of yours.
David Susskind 38:37
It had to do with the time that you brought the girl home or made up your mind and advised your parents this is it. Your mother says you're gonna put her head in the oven absent goes
Mel Brooks 38:45
Her sign by the way is the George star.
David Susskind 38:51
What was it like in your case? Your Mother, did your mother undergo severe traumas?
George Segal 38:56
My mother wouldn't never showed. I don't know. She she may have she may have inside. I know. She had a terrible pain in her stomach when I said I was going to be an actor. So then anything went after that.
David Susskind 39:09
after that it was uphill.
George Segal 39:10
Stan Herman 39:11
You had a pain. When you said yes.
George Segal 39:13
She told me that.
David Susskind 39:15
Is that because she intended you for the professions medicine?
George Segal 39:18
Anything else you did just something that she could never imagine? Or she couldn't even she didn't even have a fantasy about someone in the family being an actor.
David Susskind 39:25
Do you think it's silly immoral and uh. and she couldn't tell her friends my son the actor?
George Segal 39:34
No, She never told her friends anything anyway, she was she's very close to the vest.
David Steinberg 39:39
I don't even believe in homosexual, Jewish, even homosexual. You say if you tell my mother that a man is walking down the street and of dress and he's not totally straight but they are very sweet
David Susskind 40:01
What do you mean they refuse to
Mel Brooks 40:05
word for homosexual with the Jewish mother neat got everything in place. And the wonderful man is very nice. Don't spit in the luxury
David Susskind 40:22
Well, could it could have could a Jewish man tell his mother he's homosexual?
Mel Brooks 40:28
Why would it do? To what end?
David Susskind 40:33
Suppose he was hacking at him all the time. You got to get married. I'd like to introduce you my friend down the block has a wonderful daughter.
Mel Brooks 40:39
Mom, I want you to meet Larry. Mom this is Larry. We're taking up residence together. He picked out some floral designs in our drapes.
David Susskind 40:49
But she couldn't conceive of that.
David Steinberg 40:51
She would say where do you want to eat? Yeah, where do you want to eat? We wouldn't deal with it. It would go to another subject. I don't believe him.
George Segal 40:58
I don't know whether this is exclusive. Mothers though is it? Do you think do you think
David Steinberg 41:03
Jewish Italian I think there are any Yeah. Is there
Larry Goldberg 41:05
such a thing as a Jewish mother?
Mel Brooks 41:07
Yeah, well look for a lady in a print dress. Italian right.
David Susskind 41:12
I live with the idea of drunkenness. Can I live with the idea that you're just hitting the bottle of
David Steinberg 41:16
drunkenness as Dan pointed out is not a Judaic thing a drunken is what the with the Gentiles do according to the in a Jewish field. So it becomes a symbol of following in the path of another person of another customer. Well, what's why the liquor is so
Larry Goldberg 41:32
Jews are hooked on food. They eat a lot they keep eating and eating
Stan Herman 41:36
less and less, less. But
Mel Brooks 41:37
oh, that's a pocket. I mean, that's not true. I mean, there is the JAA right
David Susskind 41:43
all right, I'll try it what is the JAA
Mel Brooks 41:46
Jewish Alcoholics Anonymous jews do of my generation I guess the second and third generation Jews drink heavily. I mean, as heavily as anybody drinks. I mean, so that's
Stan Herman 41:58
how do you think jnb Scotch God, how
David Susskind 41:59
does your mother how did you? How did your mother face the fact that Mel drinks?
Mel Brooks 42:06
Well, I mean, she started she did. Yeah, that was first and went the man of Chevy and that a little spritz of seltzer. And that was the beginning as far as feeling good.
David Steinberg 42:18
There is a biblical precedent for drinking in a Jewish and that's Noah. Noah drink I mean that's
Larry Goldberg 42:24
bris wine on a cotton.
Mel Brooks 42:26
Cotton came so close to making this place a garage.
David Susskind 42:37
Pause again while we're still safe.
CUT TO BREAK
BACK IN STUDIO - INTERVIEW CONTINUES:
David Susskind 42:44
You think? Fellas We're back. We're back on. Yeah. Okay. Did you think the Portnoy's Complaint was a fair? Fair characterization?
Mel Brooks 42:55
Well, I think you know, I think it's an extension of truth.
George Segal 43:00
Are there Jewish qualities in the 12 chairs. On the Jewish overlay
Mel Brooks 43:05
chairs are Jewish to begin with. I mean, like the minute you come in, take a seat. There was something strange. There's something strange about a Jewish man of 67 Something weird, if I might add a Jewish man of 67 He's usually a father in law. You greet him at the door. It's raining. And you say, Dad, it's so good to see you. Why don't you come in? And he says No, I'm alright. I'm alright good. It's you came to see us it's raining Pa come on in. Come on. No, it's good here. Give me a coat and then come on in. Okay, how are you doing? I'm fine. I'm all right. I'm all right. All right. Sit down take the club chair. Good Standing here we ate in the car I noticed that strange thing with all they just they just don't want to be bothered. And so they overcompensate by being insane. And it's true
David Susskind 44:07
Do you find that to be true in your memories. Your father came in quickly sat down began eating
Dan Greenburg 44:14
no he was always there. I have nothing to say about this at all funny or serious or anything at all.
David Susskind 44:20
Why the guys that are singl is that any kind of reaction against the Jewish mother
David Steinberg 44:25
to stay single
David Susskind 44:26
to stay single
David Steinberg 44:27
No, no I used to say single because it's so much fun.
Larry Goldberg 44:30
You havent't met the right girl.
David Steinberg 44:31
I have Yeah. Many times I keep on looking she disappears. I know why single as a reaction no see what's good. It's a reaction to get married. You know? My father was a stronger figure in the family than my mother. See, my father was more liberal, liberal Jew and a more intelligent he accepted me more for what I was than my mother. He accept me for exactly what I was a punishment from God. My mother, my father, my mother used to hit me all the time. My mother was the hitter in the family always, never bothered me.
Mel Brooks 45:08
When they hit you, they say, What are you? You're killing me
David Steinberg 45:15
but my father used to do something that was more terrifying than everything. My brothers and I used to call it the Peggy Lee. He used to go. We couldn't hear what he said. And we knew that if he got us that was I never heard. Peggy Lee, you come in. I skipped school once for I think 28 days. And I gave my minor infraction. I gave my aunt Jessie a terminal disease. And I kept on elaborating on it. My father met me as I was coming out of the Odeon Theatre in Canada. And Toronto from Winnipeg Western, my eyes hadn't quite focused to the length, you know, I can include theater for 38 days, every afternoon. It tunes of glory, a very boring movie Seven or eight times because I'm going to the movies don't change. My eyes have been quite focused. And my father was at the back of the bus, you know, when I saw him and the way to get off of in the back of the bus and I burst into tears and the bus driver hadn't seen any of this brutality. But see, my father, father was very good. My father was also more liberal. My father used to say, if you if you don't eat kosher food, nothing happens. Your stomach drops out. It's up to you go out to the world.
David Susskind 46:38
What kind of provocation would bring forth a hit from your mother?
David Steinberg 46:42
I smile. More than I have some more rice with milk. I like your Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner for that 38 day in a row. That would get a hit.
David Susskind 46:54
Was the violence the rule of your home?
Stan Herman 46:57
Never No, not not nothing all of my home and for me, the designer know a Jewish designer in a Jewish household from New Jersey very close. It was a very strange thing you talked about. He talked about a mother or father sort of giving up on the sun. They went the other direction until the sun became successful. It was a hard scene for them. I mean, hard scene for them
David Susskind 47:18
was a designer a terrible fall
Stan Herman 47:21
is a terrible fall. He liked fabric. He he was he wasn't going to be a lawyer that was for sure. They didn't my parents never were strong about anything. They didn't say you couldn't do this. You couldn't do that. If you're happy. Do it but be successful at it make it a success. I grew up in this syndrome where if you weren't successful you just sort of beat yourself on the head fell flat on your face.
David Steinberg 47:25
Yeah but that's a myth to about the lawyer in the account that no Jewish mother wants to send to be a lawyer want to be a singer like Tony Bennett? No to have that look and complete note no one wants a doctor or a lawyer anymore. That's an art
Stan Herman 48:00
when I quit when Mike and my time they did want a doctor a lawyer they want or a fabric salesman. But not
David Susskind 48:07
but George they must have wanted a doctor a lawyer in your house because to become an actor.
George Segal 48:12
No, there are no doctors or lawyers in our house or in our family anywhere.
David Susskind 48:17
Well, why would they despairing when you became an actor? What had they wished for you?
George Segal 48:22
Well, my father had been was dead at that time.
David Susskind 48:26
Your mother? Yes. My mother. Yeah.
George Segal 48:28
Good question, please.
Mel Brooks 48:30
I did father dying. I'm not doing that. I just you keep your father's death off the show. We had a death on the show. did very well. That's not refried
David Susskind 48:44
What did your mother want you to be?
George Segal 48:48
I have no idea. I think she wanted me to go to college and then and then go into the world I guess maybe debutante? That's elegant.
David Steinberg 48:59
But now Now they're really proud of you. I mean, now.
George Segal 49:03
My father has died. So it's just my mother.
David Susskind 49:05
Why is the Jewish mother such a universal fair game for the novelist for the filmmaker for the comedian? Is she naturally funny? what Would you like to talk about
Mel Brooks 49:28
take a chance.
Larry Goldberg 49:31
My mother taught me how to clean my tush. That was she taught cleanliness in the home. She talked cleanliness and home how to use foot powder. The touch we cleaned. I call it the touch in the in the Midwest is to tokus tokens, the tokens.
David Susskind 49:47
George Segal 49:49
We're trying to elevate the level of the show right.
Mel Brooks 49:54
David Susskind 49:57
What did your mother what were her intentions
David Steinberg 50:00
just go to dandy.
David Susskind 50:03
When she dreamed her Russian dreams,
Mel Brooks 50:05
what did she my mother took me out of Abraham Lincoln high school when I was about 15, and took me to Heron, High School of Aviation Trades. My brother, Irving, eldest of the sons, upon hearing of this catastrophic event, spoke on to us in this manner. Watch, he's a bright kid, he's got a brain, we can't make him an aviation mechanic. So my mother took me back to Abraham Lincoln High School. Now, when her wisdom and her wisdom, she probably thought that a trade would be a very handy thing to have, you know, because she had lived through a depression. And she knew that if you had a specific skill, you might be able to survive, at least tread water, some money would come in. And she was doing it for my best interests, of course, and my brother, who was always kind of brave, Gallant, noble, funny looking, said, really a great guy. He's a chemist, used to come home late at night and take two colorless liquids and precipitate them. It makes something white and one of the test tubes, you know, like you'd make a count, I don't know what he did. And he thought that I was fairly bright and wanted me to go on to college, and I did. And then he encouraged my eventual nation into show business. But
David Susskind 51:39
David Steinberg 51:40
I was gonna ask you to interrupt with a question. Oh, I've been asked if it was alright. If you would interrupt with a question.
David Susskind 51:46
Would I interrupt with a question?
David Steinberg 51:47
We lost the moment I saw very unimportant.
Mel Brooks 51:50
I was being I was I was I was being serious.
David Steinberg 51:53
Yes. And it was it was very interesting.
Mel Brooks 51:55
And so my mother, when I when I got a job with Sid Caesar, writing the Show of Shows she, first of all, she'd never watched the show, because she was terrified that it wouldn't be good, and I'd be fired. So she'd only see the cruel would say, written by Mel Brooks. And that was that you turn it off. And she'd always say, things seriously, she'd say they, they don't know. It's all right. They don't know. I said, What do you mean, they don't know. She'd say, I mean, you're all right. They don't know. Like, I was a dummy. You know, you're never accepted in your own house like I was, it was some kind of a miracle.
David Steinberg 52:31
But there's also the evil I think they don't want to compliment that's going to be taken away from the devil is going to hear it and take it away.
Mel Brooks 52:37
Exactly. They she never believed that any of this was true. I never told her what I made. I mean, I began with $50 a week. And when I was a kid, I was when I was 23 24. I was making 5000 bucks a week, writing the Show of Shows
David Susskind 52:50
What would have happen if you said your mother making 5000 a week
Mel Brooks 52:53
Heart attack, her heart would attack her. David would have been very dangerous. I told her I made 38 40 a week. We that was all right. Yeah.
David Susskind 53:04
She thought you're being overpaid.
Mel Brooks 53:05
I gave a 48 a week. So
Stan Herman 53:06
how did you find me? You know, in my business, for instance, if you have a credit New York Times and Ladies Home Journal, if you're on TV, if you won the Cody award, you've gotten 17 things going at once and two weeks go by and there's nothing in the paper and suddenly the phone rings. It's not just the mother though. What's wrong, business is bad. The whole thing is lousy. And they said well, there's nothing wrong. I mean, I had a credit two weeks ago it's a constant
Mel Brooks 53:31
But they know the hip they read the they read variety. Now my mother, she said suck on Cleveland. Hey, Buffalo in Boston. We thought I performed Boston 23 To you took your breakeven is to eight we're gonna close I mean, they learn they get they're so sharp, so sophisticated, so quickly. They know all the showbusiness. powerlines all the Argo and then they they're great day short. And they are busty.
Stan Herman 53:57
I gotta told Mother, mother, mother, yes. And she's about seven foot four. Big big lady. My first mother was small. My mother, you can only have one. I have two mothers because I had my father remarried when I was 13. And I have called a mother. I don't think there is anything else but that.
Mel Brooks 54:17
Do you know that the child's the determination of the child's religion according to the Torah is determined by the mother's religion, that if your father is Jewish, and your mother is not, you are not Jewish, according to the Talmud, or whatever you whatever you write. If your mother is Jewish, you're Jewish, no matter what the religion of your father is. Because about 5000 years ago they figured out well we know the mother
David Susskind 54:54
Coming right back.
Description: "HOW TO BE A JEWISH SON, OR MY SON THE SUCCESS!" WITH MEL BROOKS, DAVID STEINBERG, GEORGE SEGAL, STAN HERMAN, DAN GREENBURG, LARRY GOLDBERG. JEWISH MEN IN SHOW BUSINESS (HF-YTV)
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