Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft Shared Love and Laughs

On the surface it seemed one of the stranger matches of the 20th century: the serious, award-winning dramatic actress Anna Maria Louisa Italiano, and the man whose fertile imagination introduced both flatulence around an Old West campfire and a singing-dancing Adolf Hitler to the silver screen, Melvin Kaminsky.

Or, as the world knew them, Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks.

Anne Bancroft Dies of Cancer

Oscar-winning actress Anne Bancroft died of uterine cancer on Monday at New York’s Mt. Sinai Medical Center, a family spokesman announced. She was 73.

A longtime friend of the actress and her husband, comic writer and filmmaker Mel Brooks, tells PEOPLE that Bancroft had been suffering with the disease for some time, and that Brooks – who was in the middle of production of his movie musical The Producers – had been at her side all throughout the treatment period.