Allen at the 2009 premiere of Whatever Works
|Born||Allan Stewart Konigsberg
December 1, 1935
The Bronx, New York, USA
|Alma mater||New York University|
|Occupation||Actor, director, screenwriter, comedian, musician, playwright|
|Home town||New York City, New York|
|Partner(s)||Mia Farrow (1980–92)|
|Relatives||Letty Aronson (sister)|
|Awards||See Awards and Nominations|
Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg; December 1, 1935) is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, author, playwright, and musician whose career spans over half a century.
He began as a comedy writer in the 1950s, penning jokes and scripts for television and also publishing several books of short humor pieces. In the early 1960s, Allen started performing as a stand-up comic, emphasizing monologues rather than traditional jokes. As a comic, he developed the persona of an insecure, intellectual, fretful nebbish, which he insists is quite different from his real-life personality.2 In 2004, Comedy Central3 ranked Allen in fourth place on a list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics, while a UK survey ranked Allen as the third greatest comedian.4
By the mid-1960s Allen was writing and directing films, first specializing in slapstick comedies before moving into more dramatic material influenced by European art cinema during the 1970s. He is often identified as part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmakers of the mid-1960s to late '70s.5 Allen often stars in his own films, typically in the persona he developed as a standup. Some of the best-known of his over 40 films are Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and Midnight in Paris (2011). Critic Roger Ebert described Allen as "a treasure of the cinema".6
Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg in The Bronx and raised in Brooklyn, NY, the son of Nettie (born Cherrie; November 8, 1906 – January 27, 2002), a bookkeeper at her family's delicatessen, and Martin Konigsberg (December 25, 1900 – January 13, 2001), a jewelry engraver and waiter.8 His family was Ashkenazi Jewish; his grandparents were immigrants from Russia and Austria, who spoke Yiddish, Hebrew, and German.910 Both of his parents were born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.9 Allen has a sister, Letty, who was born in 1943, and was raised in Midwood, Brooklyn.11 His childhood was not particularly happy: his parents did not get along, and he had a rocky relationship with his stern, temperamental mother.12 Allen spoke German quite a bit during his early years.13 While attending Hebrew school for eight years, he went to Public School 99 (now The Isaac Asimov School for Science and Literature)14 and to Midwood High School.15 During that time, he lived in an apartment at 968 East 14th Street.16 Unlike his comic persona, he was more interested in baseball than school and his strong arms ensured he was the first to be picked for a team.1718 He impressed students with his extraordinary talent at card and magic tricks.19 To raise money he began writing jokes (or "gags") for the agent David O. Alber, who sold them to newspaper columnists. According to Allen, his first published joke read: "Woody Allen says he ate at a restaurant that had O.P.S. prices – over people's salaries."20
He began to call himself Woody Allen. He would later joke that when he was young he was often sent to inter-faith summer camps, where he "was savagely beaten by children of all races and creeds."19 At the age of 17, he legally changed his name to Heywood Allen.21 He was already earning more than both of his parents combined.17
After high school, he attended New York University, where he studied communication and film. He later briefly attended City College of New York and soon flunked out. Later, he learned via self-study rather than the classroom.18 He eventually taught at The New School. He also studied with writing teacher Lajos Egri.18p.74
He became a full-time writer for humorist Herb Shriner, initially earning $25 a week.20 At the age of 19, he started writing scripts for The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, specials for Sid Caesar post-Caesar's Hour (1954–1957), and other television shows.1822p.111 By the time he was working for Caesar, he was making $1,500 a week; with Caesar he worked alongside Danny Simon, whom Allen credits for helping him to form his writing style.2023
In 1961, he started a new career as a stand-up comedian, debuting in a Greenwich Village club called the Duplex.20 He released three LP albums of live nightclub recordings: the self-titled Woody Allen (Colpix 518; 1964), Volume 2 (Colpix 488, 1965), and The Third Woody Allen Album (Capitol 2986; 1968) which was recorded at a fund-raiser for Eugene McCarthy's presidential run. The material from these albums were edited and abridged into the 2-LP compilation albums Standup Comic and Nightclub Years 1964–1968 [also on CD], including his "The Moose" routine, which was co-written with Mickey Rose.24 Together with his managers, Allen developed a neurotic, nervous, and intellectual persona for his stand-up routine, a successful move that secured regular gigs for him in nightclubs and on television. Allen brought innovation to the comedy monologue genre and his stand-up comedy is considered influential.25
Allen started writing short stories and cartoon captions for magazines such as The New Yorker; he was inspired by the tradition of four prominent New Yorker's humorists, S. J. Perelman, George S. Kaufman, Robert Benchley and Max Shulman, whose material he modernized.2930313233 Allen is also an accomplished author, having published four collections of his short pieces and plays.3435 These are Getting Even, Without Feathers, Side Effects and Mere Anarchy. His early comic fiction was heavily influenced by the zany, pun-ridden humour of S.J. Perelman. In 2010, Allen released digital spoken word versions of his four books on Audible.com and iTunes in which he reads 73 short story selections from his work and for which he was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.36
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He also became a successful Broadway playwright and wrote Don't Drink the Water in 1966. It starred Lou Jacobi, Kay Medford, Anita Gillette and Allen's future movie co-star Tony Roberts. A film adaptation of the play, directed by Howard Morris, was released in 1969, starring Jackie Gleason. Because he was not particularly happy with the 1969 film version of his play, in 1994, Allen directed and starred in a third version for television, with Michael J. Fox and Mayim Bialik.
The next play Allen wrote that was produced on Broadway was Play It Again, Sam, in which he also starred. The play opened on February 12, 1969, and ran for 453 performances. It also featured Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts. Allen, Keaton and Roberts would reprise their roles in the film version of the play, directed by Herbert Ross. For its March 21 issue, Life featured Allen on its cover.37 In 1981, his play The Floating Light Bulb premiered on Broadway and ran for 65 performances. While receiving mixed reviews, it was noted for giving an autobiographical insight into Allen's childhood, specifically his fascination with magic tricks. He has written several one-act plays, including 'Riverside Drive' and 'Old Saybrook' which both explore well-known Allen themes.
His first movie was the Charles K. Feldman production What's New Pussycat? in 1965, for which he wrote the initial screenplay.39 He became disappointed with the final product, which inspired him to direct every film that he would later write.39 Allen's first directorial effort was What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966, co-written with Mickey Rose), in which an existing Japanese spy movie – Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi (1965), "International Secret Police: Key of Keys" – was redubbed in English by Allen and his friends with entirely new, comic dialogue.citation needed
Allen directed, starred in, and co-wrote (with Mickey Rose) Take the Money and Run in 1969, which received positive reviews. He later signed a deal with United Artists to produce several films for them. Those films eventually became Bananas (1971, also co-written with Rose), Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972), Sleeper (1973), and Love and Death (1975).39 Sleeper was the first of four films whose screenplay was co-written by Allen and Marshall Brickman.
In 1972, Allen wrote and starred in the film version of Play It Again, Sam, which was directed by Herbert Ross and co-starred Diane Keaton. In 1976, he starred in The Front (directed by Martin Ritt) a humorous and poignant account of Hollywood blacklisting during the 1950s.
Then came two of Allen's most popular films. Annie Hall won four Academy Awards in 1977, including Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Diane Keaton, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director for Woody Allen. Annie Hall set the standard for modern romantic comedy and also started a minor fashion trend with the clothes worn by Diane Keaton in the film (the masculine clothing, such as ties with cardigans, was actually Keaton's own). While in production, its working title was "Anhedonia", a term that means the inability to feel pleasure and its plot revolved around a murder mystery. Allen re-cut the movie after production ended to focus on the romantic comedy between Allen's character, Alvy Singer, and Keaton's character, Annie Hall. The new version, retitled Annie Hall (named after Keaton, Hall being her original last name and Annie a nickname), still deals with the theme of the inability to feel pleasure. The film is ranked at No. 35 on the American Film Institute's "100 Best Movies" and at No. 4 on the AFI list of "100 Best Comedies."
Manhattan, released in 1979, is a black-and-white film that can be viewed as an homage to New York City. As in many other Allen films, the protagonists are upper-middle class academics. The love-hate opinion of cerebral persons found in Manhattan is characteristic of many of Allen's movies, including Crimes and Misdemeanors and Annie Hall. Manhattan focuses on the complicated relationship between a middle-aged Isaac Davis (Allen) and a 17-year-old Tracy (Mariel Hemingway).
Between Annie Hall and Manhattan, Allen wrote and directed the dark drama Interiors (1978), in the style of the late Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, one of Allen's chief influences. Interiors represented a departure from Allen's "early, funny" comedies (a line from 1980s Stardust Memories).
Allen's 1980s films, even the comedies, have somber and philosophical undertones, with their influences being the works of European directors, specifically Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. Stardust Memories was based on 8½, which it parodies, and Wild Strawberries. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy was adapted from Smiles of a Summer Night. In Hannah and Her Sisters, part of the film's structure and background is borrowed from Fanny and Alexander. Amarcord strongly inspired Radio Days. September resembles Autumn Sonata. Allen uses many elements from Wild Strawberries. In Crimes and Misdemeanors, Allen references a scene from Wild Strawberries.
Stardust Memories features Sandy Bates, a successful filmmaker played by Allen, who expresses resentment and scorn for his fans. Overcome by the recent death of a friend from illness, the character states, "I don't want to make funny movies any more" and a running gag has various people (including a group of visiting space aliens) telling Bates that they appreciate his films, "especially the early, funny ones."40 Allen believes this to be one of his best films.41
Allen combined tragic and comic elements in such films as Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors, in which he tells two stories that connect at the end. He also produced a vividly idiosyncratic tragi-comical parody of documentary, Zelig.
He made three films about show business: Broadway Danny Rose, in which he plays a New York show business agent, The Purple Rose of Cairo, a movie that shows the importance of the cinema during the Depression through the character of the naive Cecilia, and Radio Days, which is a film about his childhood in Brooklyn and the importance of the radio. The Purple Rose of Cairo was named by Time as one of the 100 best films of all time and Allen has described it as one of his three best films, along with Stardust Memories and Match Point.42 (Allen defines them as "best" not in terms of quality but because they came out the closest to his original vision.)
In 1989, Allen teamed up with directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese to make New York Stories, an anthology film about New Yorkers. Allen's short, Oedipus Wrecks, is about a neurotic lawyer and his critical mother. His short pleased critics, but New York Stories bombed at the box office.
His 1992 film Shadows and Fog is a black-and-white homage to the German expressionists and features the music of Kurt Weill. Allen then made his critically acclaimed drama Husbands and Wives (1992), which received two Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actress for Judy Davis and Best Original Screenplay for Allen. His film Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) combined suspense with dark comedy and marked the return of Diane Keaton, Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston.
He returned to lighter movies like Bullets Over Broadway (1994), which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, followed by a musical, Everyone Says I Love You (1996). The singing and dancing scenes in Everyone Says I Love You are similar to many musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The comedy Mighty Aphrodite (1995), in which Greek drama plays a large role, won an Academy Award for Mira Sorvino. Allen's 1999 jazz-based comedy-drama Sweet and Lowdown was also nominated for two Academy Awards for Sean Penn (Best Actor) and Samantha Morton (Best Supporting Actress). In contrast to these lighter movies, Allen veered into darker satire towards the end of the decade with Deconstructing Harry (1997) and Celebrity (1998). Allen made his only sitcom "appearance" to date (2009) via telephone on the show Just Shoot Me! in a 1997 episode, "My Dinner with Woody" which paid tribute to several of his films. Allen also provided the lead voice in the 1998 animated film Antz, which featured many actors he had worked with and had Allen play a character that was similar to his earlier neurotic roles.
Small Time Crooks (2000) is very similar to the 1942 film Larceny, Inc. (from a play by S.J. Perelman).43 Allen has never commented on whether this was deliberate or if his film was in any way inspired by it. Small Time Crooks was Allen's first film with the DreamWorks studio and represented a change in direction: Allen began giving more interviews and made an attempt to return to his slapstick roots. The film was a relative financial success, grossing over $17 million domestically but Allen's next four films floundered at the box office, including Allen's most expensive film, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (with a budget of $26 million). Hollywood Ending, Anything Else, and Melinda and Melinda were given "rotten" ratings from film-review website Rotten Tomatoes and each earned less than $4 million domestically.44 Some critics claimed that Allen's films since 1999's Sweet and Lowdown were subpar and expressed concern that Allen's best years were now behind him.45 Others have been less harsh; reviewing the little-liked Melinda and Melinda, Roger Ebert wrote, "I cannot escape the suspicion that if Woody had never made a previous film, if each new one was Woody's Sundance debut, it would get a better reception. His reputation is not a dead shark but an albatross, which with admirable economy Allen has arranged for the critics to carry around their own necks."46 Woody gave his godson Quincy Rose a small part in Melinda and Melinda. Allen was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.47
Match Point (2005) was one of Allen's most successful films of the decade, garnering very positive reviews.48 Set in London, it starred Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. It is also markedly darker than Allen's first four films with DreamWorks SKG. In Match Point, Allen shifts his focus from the intellectual upper class of New York to the moneyed upper class of London. It earned more than $23 million domestically (more than any of his films in nearly 20 years) and over $62 million in international box office sales.49 Match Point earned Allen his first Academy Award nomination since 1998, for Best Writing – Original Screenplay and also earned directing and writing nominations at the Golden Globes, his first Globe nominations since 1987. In an interview with Premiere Magazine, Allen stated this was the best film he has ever made.50
Allen returned to London to film Scoop, which also starred Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally and Allen himself. The film was released on July 28, 2006, and received mixed reviews. He has also filmed Cassandra's Dream in London. Cassandra's Dream was released in November 2007, and stars Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor and Tom Wilkinson.
After finishing his third London film, Allen headed to Spain. He reached an agreement to film Vicky Cristina Barcelona in Avilés, Barcelona and Oviedo, where shooting started on July 9, 2007. The movie stars Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall and Penélope Cruz.5152 Speaking of his experience there, Allen said: "I'm delighted at being able to work with Mediapro and make a film in Spain, a country which has become so special to me." Vicky Cristina Barcelona was well received, winning "Best Musical or Comedy" at the Golden Globe awards. Penélope Cruz received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film.
Allen has said that he "survives" on the European market. Audiences there have tended to be more receptive to Allen's films, particularly in Spain, France and Italy – countries where he has a large audience (something joked about in Hollywood Ending). "In the United States things have changed a lot, and it's hard to make good small films now," Allen said in a 2004 interview. "The avaricious studios couldn't care less about good films – if they get a good film they're twice as happy but money-making films are their goal. They only want these $100 million pictures that make $500 million."53
In April 2008, he began filming for a movie focused more towards older audiences starring Larry David, Patricia Clarkson54 and Evan Rachel Wood.55 Released in 2009, Whatever Works,5657 described as a dark comedy, follows the story of a botched suicide attempt turned messy love triangle. Whatever Works was written by Allen in the 1970s and the character now played by Larry David was originally written for Zero Mostel, who died the year Annie Hall came out.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, filmed in London, stars Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Anupam Kher, Freida Pinto and Naomi Watts. Filming started in July 2009. It was released theatrically in the US on September 23, 2010, following a Cannes debut in May 2010, and a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2010. Allen announced that his next film would be titled Midnight in Paris,58 starring Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Gad Elmaleh and Carla Bruni, who was the First Lady of France at the time of production. The film followed a young engaged couple in Paris who see their lives transformed. It debuted at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival on May 12, 2011. Allen said he wanted to "show the city emotionally," during the press conference. "I just wanted it to be the way I saw Paris – Paris through my eyes," he added.59 Midnight in Paris has overtaken Hannah and Her Sisters as Allen's most successful film at the box office in the United States.60 It has also opened to much critical acclaim, and has been considered by many critics to mark his return to form.61 His next film, To Rome with Love, was a Rome-set comedy released in 2012. The film was structured in four different vignettes featuring dialogue in both Italian and English. It marked Allen's return to acting since his last role in Scoop.62
Allen is currently in the post-production stages of his next film, Blue Jasmine.63 The film is set in San Francisco and New York and stars Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Louis CK, Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Emerson, Sally Hawkins and Peter Sarsgaard.64
For many years, Allen wanted to make a film about the origins of jazz in New Orleans. The film, tentatively titled American Blues, would follow the vastly different careers of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet. Allen has stated that the film would cost between $80 and $100 million and is therefore unlikely to be made.65
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Over the course of his career, Allen has received a considerable number of awards and distinctions in film festivals and yearly national film awards ceremonies, saluting his work as a director, screenwriter, and actor.22
- Allen's film Annie Hall won four Academy Awards in 1977, including Best Picture.
- Allen won the 1978 O. Henry Award for his short story The Kugelmass Episode, published in The New Yorker on May 2, 1977.
- Allen twice won the César Award for Best Foreign Film, the first in 1980, for Manhattan and the second in 1986, for The Purple Rose of Cairo. Seven other of his movies were nominated for the prize.
- In 1986, Allen won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for The Purple Rose of Cairo. In 2009 he won the same award for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. In 2012, he won the Best Screenplay award for Midnight in Paris which was also nominated for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Director and Best Actor (Comedy/musical) – Owen Wilson. Overall, Allen has been nominated five times as Best Director, five times for Best Screenplay and twice for Best Actor (Comedy/musical).
- At the 1995 Venice Film Festival, Allen received a Career Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.
- In 1996, Allen received a lifetime achievement award from the Directors Guild of America.
- In 2002, Allen won the Prince of Asturias Award. Subsequently, the city of Oviedo, Spain, erected a life-size statue of Allen.67
- In 2002, Allen received the Palme des Palmes, a special lifetime achievement award granted by the Cannes Festival.68
- In a 2005 UK poll The Comedian's Comedian, Allen was voted the third greatest comedy act ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.4
- In June 2007, Allen received a PhD Honoris Causa from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain.
- In 2010, Allen received the 1st Annual 20/20 Award for Best Original Screenplay for Crimes and Misdemeanors. He was also nominated for Best Director, and the film won for Best Picture.
Allen has won four Academy Awards: three Best Original Screenplays (Annie Hall (1978, shared with Marshall Brickman), Hannah and Her Sisters (1987) and Midnight in Paris (2011), and one Best Director (Annie Hall (1978)). Allen has been nominated a total of 23 times: 15 as a screenwriter, seven as a director, and once as an actor.69 He has more screenwriting Academy Award nominations than any other writer; all are in the Best Original Screenplay category. He is tied for third all-time with seven Best Director nominations.
Annie Hall won four Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actress in a Leading Role – Diane Keaton). The film received a fifth nomination, for Allen as Best Actor in a Leading Role. Hannah and Her Sisters won three, for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role categories; it was nominated in four other categories, including Best Picture and Best Director.
His actors have often received both wins and nominations at the Academy Awards for their work in his films, particularly in the Best Supporting Actor/Best Supporting Actress categories; in 1987, Michael Caine70 and Dianne Wiest71 won for Hannah and Her Sisters;72 in 1995, Dianne Wiest again won for Bullets Over Broadway;73 in 1996, Mira Sorvino74 won for Mighty Aphrodite75 and in 2009 Penélope Cruz76 won for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.77
Despite friendly recognition from the Academy, Allen has consistently refused to attend the ceremony or acknowledge his Oscar wins. He broke this pattern only once. At the Academy Awards ceremony in 2002, Allen made an unannounced appearance, making a plea for producers to continue filming their movies in New York City after the 9-11 attacks, where he stated, "I didn't have to present anything. I didn't have to accept anything. I just had to talk about New York City."78 He was given a standing ovation before introducing a montage of movie clips featuring New York.
Allen has garnered a number of wins and nominations at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards in various categories. In 1997, he received the honorary BAFTA Fellowship for his work.
- 1978 – Won – Best Direction – Annie Hall
- 1978 – Won – Best Screenplay – Annie Hall (with Marshall Brickman)
- 1978 – Nominated – Best Actor – Annie Hall
- 1980 – Won – Best Screenplay – Manhattan (with Marshall Brickman)
- 1980 – Nominated – Best Direction – Manhattan
- 1980 – Nominated – Best Actor – Manhattan
- 1984 – Nominated – Best Screenplay – Zelig
- 1985 – Won – Best Original Screenplay – Broadway Danny Rose
- 1986 – Won – Best Original Screenplay – The Purple Rose of Cairo
- 1987 – Won – Best Direction – Hannah and Her Sisters
- 1987 – Won – Best Original Screenplay – Hannah and Her Sisters
- 1987 – Nominated – Best Actor – Hannah and Her Sisters
- 1988 – Nominated – Best Original Screenplay – Radio Days
- 1990 – Nominated – Best Direction – Crimes and Misdemeanors
- 1990 – Nominated – Best Original Screenplay – Crimes and Misdemeanors
- 1993 – Won – Best Original Screenplay – Husbands and Wives
- 1995 – Nominated – Best Original Screenplay – Bullets Over Broadway
- 2012 – Nominated – Best Original Screenplay – Midnight in Paris79
Although best known for his films, Allen has also enjoyed a very successful career in theater, starting as early as 1960, when Allen wrote sketches for the revue From A to Z. His first great success was Don't Drink the Water, which opened in 1968, and ran for 598 performances for almost two years on Broadway. His success continued with Play It Again, Sam, which opened in 1969, starring Allen and Diane Keaton. The show played for 453 performances and was nominated for three Tony Awards, although none of the nominations were for Allen's writing or acting.80
In 1981, Allen's play The Floating Light Bulb opened on Broadway. The play was a critical success but a commercial flop. Despite two Tony Award nominations, a Tony win for the acting of Brian Backer (who also won the 1981 Theater World Award and a Drama Desk Award for his work), the play only ran for 62 performances.81
After a long hiatus from the stage, Allen returned to the theater in 1995, with the one-act Central Park West, an installment in an evening of theater known as Death Defying Acts that was also made up of new work by David Mamet and Elaine May.82
For the next couple of years, Allen had no direct involvement with the stage, yet notable productions of his work were being staged. A production of God was staged at The Bank of Brazil Cultural Center in Rio de Janeiro,83 and theatrical adaptations of Allen's films Bullets Over Broadway84 and September85 were produced in Italy and France, respectively, without Allen's involvement. In 1997, rumors of Allen returning to the theater to write a starring role for his wife Soon-Yi Previn turned out to be false.86
In 2003, Allen finally returned to the stage with Writer's Block, an evening of two one-acts – Old Saybrook and Riverside Drive – that played Off-Broadway. The production marked the stage-directing debut for Allen.87 The production sold out its entire run.88
Also that year, reports of Allen writing the book for a musical based on Bullets Over Broadway surfaced, but no show ever formulated.89 In 2004, Allen's first full-length play since 1981, A Second Hand Memory,90 was directed by Allen and enjoyed an extended run Off-Broadway.88
In June 2007, it was announced that Allen would make two more creative debuts in the theater, directing a work that he did not write and directing an opera – a re-interpretation of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi for the Los Angeles Opera91 – which debuted at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on September 6, 2008.92 Commenting on his direction of the opera, Allen said, "I have no idea what I'm doing." His production of the opera opened the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, in June 2009.93
In October 2011, Woody Allen's one-act play called Honeymoon Motel premiered as one in a series of one act plays on Broadway titled Relatively Speaking.94 Also contributing to the plays are Elaine May and Ethan Coen with John Turturro directing.95
Allen has had three wives: Harlene Rosen (1956–1962), Louise Lasser (1966–1970) and his present marriage to Soon-Yi Previn (1997–present). Though Allen had a 12-year romantic relationship with actress Mia Farrow the two were never married. Allen also had romantic relationships with Diane Keaton during 10 years, and Stacey Nelkin.
Rosen, whom Allen referred to in his standup act as "the Dread Mrs. Allen," later sued Allen for defamation due to comments at a TV appearance shortly after their divorce. Allen tells a different story on his mid-1960s standup album Standup Comic. In his act, Allen said that Rosen sued him because of a joke he made in an interview. Rosen had been sexually assaulted outside her apartment and according to Allen, the newspapers reported that she "had been violated." In the interview, Allen said, "Knowing my ex-wife, it probably wasn't a moving violation." In a later interview on The Dick Cavett Show, Allen brought the incident up again where he repeated his comments and stated that the amount that he was being sued for was "$1 million."
Allen married Louise Lasser in 1966. They divorced in 1969, and Allen did not marry again until 1997. Lasser appeared in three Allen films after the divorce – Take the Money and Run, Bananas, and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) – and made a brief appearance in Stardust Memories.
In 1970, Allen cast Diane Keaton in his Broadway show, Play It Again, Sam. During the run she and Allen became romantically involved and although they broke up after a year, she continued to star in a number of his films, including Sleeper as a futuristic poet and Love and Death as a composite character based on the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Annie Hall was very important in Allen and Keaton's careers. It is said that the role was written specifically for her as Diane Keaton's given name is Diane Hall. She then starred in Interiors as a poet, followed by Manhattan. In 1987, she had a cameo as a night-club singer in Radio Days and was chosen to replace Mia Farrow in the co-starring role for Manhattan Murder Mystery after Allen and Farrow began having troubles with their personal and working relationship while making this film. Keaton has not worked with Allen since Manhattan Murder Mystery. Since the end of their romantic relationship, Keaton and Allen have remained close friends.97
The film Manhattan is said by the Los Angeles Times98 to be widely known to have been based on his romantic relationship with the actress Stacey Nelkin. Her bit part in Annie Hall ended up on the cutting room floor, and their relationship, though never publicly acknowledged by Allen, reportedly began when she was 17 years old and a student at New York's Stuyvesant High School.99100101
Around 1980, Allen began a relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who had leading roles in several of his movies from 1982 to 1992. Farrow and Allen never married and kept separate homes102 but they adopted two children, Dylan Farrow (who changed her name to Eliza and is now known as Malone) and Moshe Farrow (now known as Moses); they also had one biological child, Satchel Farrow (now known as Ronan Seamus Farrow). Allen did not adopt any of Farrow's other family, including Soon-Yi Farrow Previn (the adopted daughter of Farrow and André Previn, now known as Soon-Yi Previn). Allen and Farrow separated in 1992, after Farrow discovered nude photographs that Allen had taken of Soon-Yi, who was around 20 years old at the time.103104 In her autobiography, What Falls Away (New York: Doubleday, 1997), Farrow says that Allen admitted to a relationship with Soon-Yi.105
After Allen and Farrow separated, a long public legal battle for the custody of their three children began. During the proceedings, Farrow alleged that Allen had sexually molested their adopted daughter Dylan, who was then seven years old. The judge eventually concluded that the sex abuse charges were inconclusive106 but called Allen's conduct with Soon-Yi "grossly inappropriate." He called the report of the team that investigated the issue "sanitized and therefore, less credible" and added that she had "reservations about the reliability of the report."107 Farrow won custody of their children. Allen was denied visitation rights with Malone and could see Ronan only under supervision. Moses, who was then 14, chose not to see Allen.107
In a 2005 Vanity Fair interview,108 Allen estimated that, despite the scandal's damage to his reputation, Farrow's discovery of Allen's attraction to Soon-Yi Previn by finding nude photographs of her was "just one of the fortuitous events, one of the great pieces of luck in my life. . . It was a turning point for the better." Of his relationship with Farrow, he said, "I'm sure there are things that I might have done differently. . . Probably in retrospect I should have bowed out of that relationship much earlier than I did." In a report June 22, 2011, Reuters quoted Allen as saying, "What was the scandal? I fell in love with this girl, married her. We have been married for almost 15 years now. There was no scandal, but people refer to it all the time as a scandal and I kind of like that in a way because when I go I would like to say I had one real juicy scandal in my life."109
After ending his relationship with Mia Farrow in 1992, Allen continued his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. Even though Allen never married Mia Farrow102110 and was never Previn's legal stepfather, the relationship between Allen and Previn has often been referred to as a father involved romantically with his stepdaughter111 because she was adopted and legally Farrow's daughter and his son's sister. In 1991, The New York Times described Allen's family life by reporting, "Few married couples seem more married. They are constantly in touch with each other, and not many fathers spend as much time with their children as Allen does."102
In 1991, when the relationship started, Allen was 56 and Previn was around 19. Asked whether their age difference was conducive to "a healthy, equal relationship," Allen said equality is not necessarily a requirement in a relationship and "The heart wants what it wants. There's no logic to those things. You meet someone and you fall in love and that's that."112
Ronan Farrow is widely quoted as disparaging Allen and having said he cannot see him. On Father's Day 2012, he tweeted "Happy father's day— or as they call it in my family, happy brother-in-law's day."113
Previn and Allen have two adopted daughters, Bechet Dumaine (born ca. 1999, China) and Manzie Tio (born 2000, Texas).
Allen is a passionate fan of jazz, which is often featured prominently in the soundtracks to his films. He began playing as a child and took his stage name from clarinetist Woody Herman.114 He has performed publicly at least since the late 1960s, notably with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the soundtrack of Sleeper.115 One of his earliest televised performances was on The Dick Cavett Show on October 20, 1971.116
Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band have been playing each Monday evening at Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel for many years117 (as of 2011,118 specializing in classic New Orleans jazz from the early twentieth century).119 The documentary film Wild Man Blues (directed by Barbara Kopple) documents a 1996 European tour by Allen and his band, as well as his relationship with Previn. The band has released two CDs: The Bunk Project (1993) and the soundtrack of Wild Man Blues (1997).
Apart from Wild Man Blues, directed by Barbara Kopple, there are a number of other documentaries featuring Woody Allen, including the 2002 cable-television documentary Woody Allen: a Life in Film, directed by Time film critic Richard Schickel, which interlaces interviews of Allen with clips of his films, and Meetin' WA, a short interview of Allen by French director Jean-Luc Godard. In 2011 the PBS series American Masters co-produced a comprehensive documentary about him, Woody Allen: a Documentary directed by Robert B. Weide.
From 1976 to 1984, Stuart Hample wrote and drew Inside Woody Allen, a comic strip based on Allen's film persona.
Allen spent over 37 years undergoing psychoanalysis. Many of his films contain references to psychoanalysis. Even the film Antz, an animated feature in which Allen contributes the voice of lead character Z, opens with a classic piece of Allen analysis shtick.
Moment Magazine says, "It drove his self-absorbed work." John Baxter, author of Woody Allen – A Biography, wrote, "Allen obviously found analysis stimulating, even exciting."122
Allen has described himself as being a "Militant Freudian Atheist" in an interview in 2008.123
Allen's films span six decades, starting with 1965's What's New Pussycat?. He has written, directed, and starred in many of them, including films such as Annie Hall (1977), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and Husbands and Wives (1992), all of which earned major awards. Originally known for his comedies, his early successes were followed by his first purely dramatic work, Interiors (1978).
In addition to directing, writing, and acting in films, Allen has written and performed in a number of Broadway theater productions.
|1960||From A to Z||Writer (book)||Plymouth Theatre|
|1966||Don't Drink the Water||Writer||Coconut Grove Playhouse, Florida|
|1969||Play It Again, Sam||Writer, Performer (Allan Felix)||Broadhurst Theatre124|
|1981||The Floating Light Bulb||Writer||Vivian Beaumont Theater|
|1995||Central Park West||Writer||Variety Arts Theatre|
|2003||Old Saybrook||Writer, Director||Atlantic Theatre Company|
|2003||Riverside Drive||Writer, Director||Atlantic Theatre Company|
|2004||A Second Hand Memory||Writer, Director||Atlantic Theater Company|
|2011||Honeymoon Motel||Writer||Brooks Atkinson Theatre|
|2013||Bullets Over Broadway||Writer (Book)||St. James Theatre|
- Don't Drink the Water: A comedy in two acts (1967), ASIN B0006BSWBW
- Play It Again, Sam (1969), ISBN 0-394-40663-X
- God: A comedy in one act (1975), ISBN 0-573-62201-9
- The Floating Light Bulb (1981)
- Three One-Act Plays: Riverside Drive / Old Saybrook / Central Park West (2003), ISBN 0-8129-7244-9
- Writer's Block: Two One-Act Plays (2005), ISBN 0-573-62630-8 (includes Riverside Drive and Old Saybrook)
- A Second Hand Memory: A drama in two acts (2005)
- The one-act plays God and Death are both included in Allen's 1975 collection Without Feathers (see below).
- Getting Even (1971), ISBN 0-394-47348-5
- Without Feathers (1975), ISBN 0-394-49743-0
- "The Whore of Mensa" (1974)125
- Side Effects (1980), ISBN 0-394-51104-2
- Mere Anarchy (2007), ISBN 978-1-4000-6641-4
- Complete Prose of Woody Allen (1992), ISBN 0-517-07229-7. (Collection of Allen's short stories first published in Getting Even, Without Feathers and Side Effects.)
- The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007, ISBN 978-0-8129-7811-7.
- Lunatic's Tale (1986), ISBN 1-55628-001-7 (Short story previously included in Side Effects.)
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- A Negative Assessment of Allen's Work By Prof. Ray Carney
- Stardust Memories: Visiting Woody Michael Žantovský recalls a memorable meeting between two giants, Woody Allen and Václav Havel
- Essay by Victoria Loy on Woody Allen's career
- The Essential Woody Allen; Lauren Hill
- Fun With Woody, The Complete Woody Allen Quiz Book (Henry Holt), Graham Flashner
- The Importance of Being Famous: Behind the Scenes of the Celebrity Industrial Complex by Maureen Orth p233 ISBN 0-8050-7545-3
- Woody Allen – A Biography; John Baxter (1999) ISBN 0-7867-0666-X
- Woody Allen: Conversations with Filmmakers Series, ed. R. E. Kapsis and K. Coblentz, (2006) ISBN 1-57806-793-6
- Woody Allen; Stephan Reimertz, (rororo-Monographie), Reinbek (2005) ISBN 3-499-50410-3 (in German)
- Woody Allen: Eine Biographie; Stephan Reimertz, Reinbek (2000) ISBN 3-499-61145-7 (in German)
- Woody Allen On Location, by Thierry de Navacelle (Morrow, 1987); a day-to-day account of the making of Radio Days (1987)
- Woody Allen on Woody Allen: In Conversation With Stig Bjorkman (1995), ISBN 0-8021-1556-X
- Woody Allen: Profane and Sacred; Richard A. Blake (1995) ISBN 978-0-8108-2993-0
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- The Official Site of Woody Allen
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- Woody Allen at AllRovi
- Woody Allen at the TCM Movie Database
- Woody Allen at the Internet Broadway Database
- Woody Allen on National Public Radio in 2009
- Woody Allen at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Works by or about Woody Allen in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Woody Allen collected news and commentary at The Guardian
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- The Woody Allen Pages – Fansite With News And Reviews
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