Bancroft and Brooks around the time of their wedding, in 1964
"I fell in love with her then and there."- Brooks, in an interview with Liz Smith, on first meeting Anne
Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks met in 1961 when she was rehearsing for the Perry Como television show. The story goes that she was rehearsing the musical number, "Married I can Always Get." and wearing a white suit. Mel Brooks called from offstage, "I'm Mel Brooks." Brooks bribed one of the tv show's employees to find out where Anne was going to have dinner that evening so he could "happen" to show up at the same restaurant.
"When Mel told his Jewish mother he was marrying an Italian girl, she said: 'Bring her over. I'll be in the kitchen - with my head in the oven'."- Bancroft
When they met, Miracle Worker had not yet been released and much of Bancroft's career had been in television. Although she had a respectable number of films to her credit and had already won her first Tony award (for appearing opposite Henry Fonda in the Broadway production of Two for the Seesaw), she had not yet become the marquee name we know her as today. Brooks was best known as a writer and comedian, his prolific years as an actor/writer/director were still ahead of him.
"He understands not only with his brain but with his heart. And that might be called love. Not quite sure, but maybe that's the key."- Bancroft, on her husband Mel Brooks Associated Press interview (1997)
They were married on August 5, 1964 at the New York City Hall. They asked a passer-by to be the witness for their wedding. As one of Bancroft's obituaries aptly describes them: "He was the Borscht Belt spoofer who took comedy to delightful new lows in the bawdy Western satire Blazing Saddles. She was the Bronx-born daughter of Italian parents who won two Tonys. 'He makes me laugh a lot,' she said, explaining their attraction to the New York Daily News in 2000. 'I get excited when I hear his key in the door. It's like, Ooh! The party's going to start.'"
"First of all, you have to marry the right person. If you marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons, then no matter how hard you work, it's never going to work, because then you have to completely change yourself, completely change them, completely— by that time, you're both dead. So I think you have to marry for the right reasons, and marry the right person."- Bancroft, on successful marriage. Associated Press interview (1997)
Brooks and Bancroft making an appearance in Larry David's fictional "Opening Night" in 2004
I just love their work. And I love the idea of them together. It's a union that always fascinated me.
I found a lot of interesting information in this profile of their marriage, which I recommend.