Born July 22, 1947 in Beverly Hills, California, Albert Lawrence Einstein, known professionally as Albert Brooks, was one of three sons of former actress Thelma Leeds and her husband, Harry Parke. Parke’s birthname was Einstein, Parke was his original stage name, but he was better known as Parkyarkarkus.
Brooks suffered an early trauma when his father collapsed and died after delivering his remarks at a Friars Club tribute to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1958 at the age of 54. Brooks was just 11 years old.
The brilliant student attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh but dropped out after a year to hone his comedic skills. He changed his name to Brooks at the age of 19 and began to appear regularly on variety and talk shows in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1975, he directed five short films for Saturday Night Live during its first season.
Brooks made his film debut in a supporting role in Taxi Driver in 1976. In 1979, he wrote, directed, and starred in Real Life. In 1980, he played a supporting role in Private Benjamin and in 1981 he again wrote, directed, and starred in Modern Romance. He then went back to playing supporting roles in Twilight Zone: The Movie, Terms of Endearment, and Unfaithfully Yours. In 1985, he wrote, directed, and starred in his third film, Lost in America for which he won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay.