"Not many people know it, but the Fuhrer was a terrific dancer." Or "Hitler... there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon! Two coats!"

The first man to voice those immortal Mel Brooks lines was Kenneth Mars as the crazed Nazi playwright in the original movie version of "The Producers." He was also the first to say, as the one-armed police inspector in Brooks' "Young Frankenstein," that the young doctor was "vallowing een hees gondphodda's phootshtaps" -- and then, when villagers asked what he was saying, to translate, "Following in his grandfather's footsteps, footsteps, footsteps."

Advertisement

Mars was an acquired taste, but many, Brooks included, thought his performances were so over-the-top, they couldn't be topped by anyone. Attention must be paid to a performer who acts as a comic genius' male muse in said genius' two funniest movies. Mars also acted in two Woody Allen films, "Shadows and Fog" and "Radio Days," but his parts for Brooks have brought him baggy-pants immortality.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement