Mel Brooks Is Still An ‘Empty Shell’ Without Bancroft

Mel Brooks’ expected smash hit musical Young Frankenstein opens tonight, but Mr. Brooks still feels the loss of his wife, Anne Bancroft, who died two years ago from cancer.

Over at Salon, Paul Mazursky celebrates Mr. Brooks and describes their weekly lunch at Orso with Michael Gruskoff, Alan Ladd Jr., Jay Kanter, Freddie Fields. “The group seemed to be about the men who had toiled on the third floor at Twentieth Century Fox studios in the ’70s,” Mr. Mazursky wrote. He described the table as “an island of some relief and compassion for Mel” after Ms. Bancroft died.

The group went to a preview of Young Frankenstein and Mr. Brooks admitted that the third act needed work.

The next morning we all met for brunch at the hotel. We told Mel how much we loved the show. We advised him to cut a few minutes. He nodded in agreement. “I told you. I gotta fix some stuff.” But he was relieved and so were we. Then Mel suddenly turned dark. “I know you guys think I’m on top of the world. But right now I feel like an empty shell. I wish Annie could be here with us.” Tears came to his eyes, and to mine. We all commiserated, but we all knew it couldn’t do much good. “I love you guys,” Mel said.