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Mel Brooks On Anti-Semitism

Mel Brooks is obsessed with his ethnicity. But there's a good reason, as he explains to Mike Wallace Sunday on 60 Minutes.

Brooks, who says it demonstrates his depseated anger at anti-Semitism, also spoke about turning his movie comedy "The Producers" into a Broadway play.

Brooks says of focus on his religion: "Maybe because I'm angry. Who knows? It may be a deep-seated anger at anti-Semitism. Yes, I am a Jew. I am a Jew! What about it?" he asks, his voice rising, "What about it? What's so wrong? What's the matter with being a Jew?" Brooks adds, "I think there is a lot of (anger at anti-Semitism) way down deep beneath all the quick Jewish jokes that I do."

Some of that pent-up animosity comes from his experience in the Army. "I was in the Army. 'Jewboy! Out of my way, out of my face, Jewboy,'" he recalls soldiers saying to him. Brooks, who served in World War II de-activating land mines, spent a short time in the stockade for getting even with one heckler. "I took his helmet off. I said, 'I don't want to hurt your helmet 'cause it's G.I. issue.' And I smashed him in the head with my mess kit," he says.

One anti-Semite Brooks has been trying to get even with for most of his adult life is Adolf Hitler, whom he lampoons first in his movie and now on the stage. "Hitler was part of this incredible idea that you could put Jews in concentration camps and kill them…How do you get even with the man? How do you get even with him?" he asks Wallace.

"You have to bring him down with ridicule, because if you stand on a soapbox and you match him with rhetoric, you're just as bad as he is, but if you can make people laugh at him, then you're one up on him," he tells Wallace. "It's been one of my lifelong jobs - to make the world laugh at Adolf Hitler," says Brooks.

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