Albert Brooks has been doing his own thing since the 1970s. He’s become a comedy legend, adept at writing and directing films he also starred in, all with a through-line of self-deprecating humor combined with social satire. To name just a few, Brooks has pointed out the absurdity of existence with works like Lost in America, Real Life, Modern Romance, and Defending Your Life. However, a gift for comedy runs in the family.
The actor-writer-director’s real name is Albert Einstein. According to The New York Times, his brother was the late Bob Einstein, a.k.a. Super Dave Osborne. While their mother, Thelma Leeds, was an actress, their father was a major radio comedian named Harry Einstein, a.k.a. Harry Parke. In the 1930s and 1940s, specific “ethnic” comedy was huge and appealed to the many immigrant communities around the United States. With his act based in Greek dialect comedy, Parke parlayed this trend into his massively popular character, a Greek chef named Parkyakarkus. He performed the bit on a variety of top-rated radio shows, before getting his own show in 1945 called Meet Me at Parky’s. According to the Daily Beast, Parke got so rich and famous that he raised his family in Beverly Hills.