Before Achieving Hollywood Stardom, Mel Brooks Fought In One Of WWII’s Deadliest Battles

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Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It is December 16, 1944. Dark skies over Europe signal danger. With Allied air forces grounded due to inclement weather, the Germans spot a weakness in their enemy’s defenses. Their surprise attack on American lines proves singularly devastating. And the action quickly escalates into the single deadliest battle of World War II for the United States.

Image: Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHoM) Robert F. Sargent

Around 19,000 American troops were killed in the clash, representing an enormous loss of potential. Among the dead one can only imagine that there were future scientists, engineers, artists and writers – in fact an untold number of great minds whose prospects will never be known. For those who did survive, though, their experiences no doubt went on to shape their lives. And some among them, remarkably, made their mark on Hollywood, using their talents to entertain and amuse.

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Image: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

But the sacrifices of World War II were not in vain. From the ashes of destruction emerged a new world, one largely free from the darkness of fascism. For every great mind lost, a great mind was saved. And they included – perhaps unexpectedly – a budding young entertainer whose zany brand of humor would come to delight audiences around the world. He was born Melvin Kaminsky, but most know him by his stage name, Mel Brooks.

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