Woody Allen

Woody Allen - © Colin Swan (Woody Allen in concert in New York City 09.01.2006)

born on 1/12/1935 in New York City, NY, United States

Woody Allen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Woody Allen
Birth name Allen Stewart Konigsberg
Born December 1 1935
Years active 1950present
Spouse(s) Harlene Rosen (1954-1959)
Louise Lasser (1966-1969)
Soon-Yi Previn (1997present)

Woody Allen (born Allen Stewart Konigsberg; December 1, 1935) is an American film director, screenwriter, actor, comedian, writer, musician, and playwright.

Allen's distinctive films, which run the gamut from dramas to screwball sex comedies, have made him one of the most respected living American directors. He is also distinguished by his rapid rate of production and his very large body of work.[1] Allen writes and directs his movies and has also acted in the majority of them. For inspiration, Allen draws heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Ancient Greece, Jewish identity, European cinema and New York City, where he was born and has lived his entire life.

Allen is also a jazz clarinetist. What began as a teenage avocation has led to regular public performances at various small venues in his Manhattan hometown, with occasional appearances at various jazz festivals. Allen joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the New Orleans Funeral Ragtime Orchestra in performances that provided the film score for his 1973 comedy Sleeper, and a rare European tour in 1996 featuring Allen was the subject of the documentary Wild Man Blues.

Early years

Allen was born and raised in New York City, the son of Nettie (née 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.[2] His family was Jewish and his grandparents were Yiddish- and German-speaking immigrants.[3] Allen has a sister, Letty (born 1943), and was raised in Midwood, Brooklyn.[4] His parents were both born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.[3] His childhood wasn't particularly happy. His parents didn't get along, and he had a rocky relationship with his stern, temperamental mother.[5] Allen spoke Yiddish during his early years and, after attending Hebrew school for eight years, went to Public School 99 and to Midwood High School.[6] During that time, he lived in an apartment at 1402 Avenue K, between East 14th and 15th Streets. He impressed students with his extraordinary talent at card and magic tricks.[7]

To raise money he began writing gags for the agent David O. Alber, who sold them to newspaper columnists. According to Allen, his first published joke that read: "Woody Allen says he ate at a restaurant that had O.P.S. pricesover people's salaries."[8]

Milt Kamen got Allen his first writing job at the age of 16 with Sid Caesar. He began to call himself Woody Allen. He was a highly gifted young comedian and would later joke that when he was young he was sent to inter-faith summer camp, where he was "savagely beaten by children of all races and creeds."[7]

After high school, he went to New York University (NYU), where he studied communication and film. He was never committed as a student, so he failed a film course, and was eventually expelled.[9] He later briefly attended City College of New York.

Comedy writer and playwright

After his false starts at NYU and City College, he became a full-time writer for Herb Shriner, earning $75 a week at first.[8] At age 17, he started writing scripts for The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, Caesar's Hour and other television shows.[10] By the time he was working for Sid Caesar, he was making $1500 a week; with Caesar he worked alongside Danny Simon, whom Allen credits for helping him to structure his writing style.[8][11]

In 1961, he started a new career as a stand-up comedian, debuting in a Greenwich Village club called the Duplex.[8] Examples of Allen's standup act can be heard on the albums Standup Comic and Nightclub Years 1964-1968 (including his classic routine entitled "The Moose").[12]

He began writing for the popular Candid Camera television show, even appearing in some episodes. Together with his managers, Allen turned his weaknesses into his strengths, developing his neurotic, nervous, and intellectual persona. He quickly became a successful comedian, and appeared frequently in nightclubs and on television. Allen was popular enough to appear on the cover of Life in 1969.

Allen started writing short stories and cartoon captions for magazines such as The New Yorker. 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 Anthony Roberts. A film adaptation of the play, directed by Howard Morris, was released in 1969 starring Jackie Gleason. In 1994 Allen directed and starred in a third version for television with Michael J. Fox and Mayim Bialik.

The next Broadway hit that he wrote was Play It Again, Sam; he also starred in it. It opened on February 12, 1969, and ran for 453 performances. It also featured Diane Keaton and Anthony Roberts. Allen, Keaton and Roberts would reprise their roles in the film version of the play, directed by Herbert Ross.

Allen is also an accomplished author having published four collections of his short pieces and plays. 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.

Film career

Early films

His first movie production was What's New, Pussycat? in 1965, for which he wrote the initial screenplay. He was hired by Warren Beatty to re-write a script, and to appear in a small part in the movie. Over the course of the re-write, Beatty's part grew smaller and Allen's grew larger. Beatty was upset and quit the production. Peter O'Toole was hired for the Beatty role, and Peter Sellers was brought in as well; Sellers was a big enough star to demand many of Woody Allen's best lines/scenes, prompting hasty re-writes.

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 completely new, comic dialogue.

He appeared only as an actor in the James Bond spoof, Casino Royale (1967). It was not a starring role, and he did not direct.

1960s and 1970s

Allen directed Take the Money and Run (1969), and then Bananas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask), Sleeper, and Love and Death. Take the Money and Run and Bananas were both co-written by his childhood friend, Mickey Rose.

In 1972, he starred in the film version of Play It Again, Sam, which was directed by Herbert Ross. All of Allen's early films were pure comedies that relied heavily on slapstick, inventive sight gags, and non-stop one-liners. Among the many notable influences on these films are Bob Hope, Groucho Marx (as well as, to some extent, Harpo Marx) and Humphrey Bogart. In 1976, he starred in, but did not direct, The Front (that task was handled by Martin Ritt), a humorous and poignant account of Hollywood blacklisting during the 1950s.

Annie Hall won four Academy Awards in 1977, including Best Picture and Best Actress in a Leading Role for Diane Keaton. Annie Hall set the standard for modern romantic comedy, and also started a minor fashion trend with the unique clothes worn by Diane Keaton in the film (the offbeat, 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. Apparently, as filmed, the murder mystery plot did not work (and was later used in his 1993 Manhattan Murder Mystery), so Allen re-edited and 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 given last name and Annie a nickname), still deals with the theme of the inability to feel pleasure. 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," Annie Hall is considered to be among Allen's best.

Manhattan, released in 1979, is a black-and-white film that can be viewed as an homage to New York City, which has been described as the true "main character" of the movie. As in many other Allen films, the main characters are upper-class academics. Even though it makes fun of pretentious intellectuals, the story is packed with obscure references which makes it less accessible to a general audience. 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 gloomy drama Interiors (1978), in the style of the late Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, one of Allen's major influences. Interiors represented a significant departure from Allen's "earlier, funnier comedies" (a line from 1980s Stardust Memories).


Allen's 1980s films, even the comedies, have somber and philosophical undertones. Some, like September and Stardust Memories, are heavily influenced by the works of European directors, most notably Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini.

Stardust Memories features as a main character 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 throughout the film has various people (including a group of visiting space aliens) telling Bates that they appreciate his films, "especially the early, funny ones."[13] To this day, Allen believes this to be one of his very best films.[14]

However, by the mid-1980s, Allen had begun to combine tragic and comic elements with the release of such films as Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors, in which he tells two different stories that connect at the end. He also produced a vividly idiosyncratic tragi-comical parody of documentary, titled Zelig.

He also made three films about show business. The first is Broadway Danny Rose, in which he plays a New York show business agent; the second is The Purple Rose of Cairo, a movie that shows the importance of the cinema during the Depression through the character of the naive Cecilia. Lastly, Allen made Radio Days, which is a film about his childhood in Brooklyn, and the importance of the radio. Purple Rose was named by Time Magazine 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.[15] (Allen defines them as "best" not in terms of quality, but because they came out the closest to his original vision.)

Before the end of the '80s, he made other movies that were strongly inspired by Ingmar Bergman's films. September resembles Autumn Sonata, and Allen uses many elements from Wild Strawberries[16] in Another Woman. Similarly, the Federico Fellini classic Amarcord strongly inspired Radio Days.[17]


His 1992 film Shadows and Fog is a black-and-white homage to 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.

Next, he returned to lighter movies, such as 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, and the plot is no less comical than those in which they starred. The comedy Mighty Aphrodite (1995), in which the 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 previously worked with and had Allen play a character that was very similar to his earlier neurotic roles, only as an insect.


Small Time Crooks (2000) was his first film with DreamWorks SKG studio and represented a change in direction: Allen began giving more interviews and made an apparent attempt to return to his slapstick comedy roots. Small Time Crooks was a relative success, grossing over $17 million domestically, but Allen's next four films foundered at the box office, including Allen's most expensive film to date, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (with a budget of $33 million). Hollywood Ending, Anything Else, and Melinda and Melinda were given "rotten" ratings from film-review website Rotten Tomatoes and each earned less than $5 million domestically.[18] 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.[19] Woody gave his godson, Quincy Rose, a small part in Melinda & Melinda. [[File:Woody Allen (2006).jpeg|thumb|left|Woody Allen in concert in New York City, 2006]] Match Point (2005) was one of Allen's most successful films in the past 10 years and generally received very positive reviews. Set in London, it starred Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. It is also markedly darker than Allen's first four films under the DreamWorks SKG banner. In Match Point, Allen shifts his focus from the intellectual upper class of New York to the moneyed upper class of London. While different from Allen's many critical satires, Match Point still has undertones of social critique. This is clearest in the theme of luck which works on several levels in the film. Match Point earned more than $23 million domestically (more than any of his films in nearly 20 years) and earned over $62 million in international box office sales.[20] 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.

Allen returned to London to film Scoop, which also starred Johansson, as well as Hugh Jackman, Ian McShane and Kevin McNally. The film was released on July 28, 2006, and received mixed reviews. He has also filmed Cassandra's Dream in London. Cassandra's Dream stars Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Wilkinson and was released in November 2007.

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 international actors and actresses, including Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall, and Penélope Cruz.[21][22] 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 and France, both countries where he has a large fan base (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."[23]

In April 2008, he began filming for a movie focused more towards older audiences starring Larry David, Patricia Clarkson[24] and Evan Rachel Wood.[25] He revealed in July 2008 the title of this film, to be released in 2009: Whatever Works,[26][27] 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.

Allen's current project, being filmed in London, stars Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Anupam Kher, Freida Pinto and Naomi Watts. Filming started in July 2009.

Reports also suggest that Woody Allen's next two projects will be filmed in Europe, in the summers of 2010 and 2011, respectively.[28]

The "Woody Allen" character

Allen continues to write roles for the neurotic persona he created in the 1960s and 1970s; however, as he gets older, the roles have been assumed by other actors such as John Cusack (Bullets Over Broadway), Edward Norton (Everyone Says I Love You), Kenneth Branagh (Celebrity), Jason Biggs (Anything Else), and Will Ferrell (Melinda and Melinda).

Awards, nominations and distinctions

Main article: List of awards won by Woody Allen

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.[10] When premiering his films at festivals, Allen does not screen his motion pictures in competition, thus deliberately taking them out of consideration for potential awards.

  • 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, and in 2009 he won the same award for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical for Vicky Christina Barcelona. He was also nominated four times as Best Director, four 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.[29]
  • In 2002, Allen received the Palme des Palmes, a special lifetime achievement award granted by the Cannes Festival and whose sole other recipient is Ingmar Bergman.[30]
  • In a 2005 poll The Comedian's Comedian, Allen was voted the third greatest comedy act ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
  • In June 2007, Allen received a Ph.D. degree Honoris Causa from Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona, Spain).

Academy Awards

Woody Allen has won three Academy Awards and been nominated a total of 21 times: 14 as a screenwriter, six as a director, and one as an actor. He has more screenwriting Academy Award nominations than any other writer; all are in the "Best Original Screenplay" category. He is tied for fifth all-time with six Best Director nominations. His actors have regularly received both nominations and Academy Awards for their work in Allen films, particularly in the Best Supporting categories.

Annie Hall won four Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actress). The film received a fifth nomination, for Allen as Best Actor. Hannah and Her Sisters won three, for Best Screenplay and both Best Supporting Actor categories; it was nominated in four other categories, including Best Picture and Best Director.

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.[31] He was given a standing ovation before introducing a montage of movie clips featuring New York.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Won: Annie Hall (1977)
  • Nominated: Interiors (1978)
  • Nominated: Manhattan (1979)
  • Nominated: Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
  • Nominated: The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
  • Won: Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
  • Nominated: Radio Days (1987)
  • Nominated: Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
  • Nominated: Alice (1990)
  • Nominated: Husbands and Wives (1992)
  • Nominated: Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
  • Nominated: Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
  • Nominated: Deconstructing Harry (1997)
  • Nominated: Match Point (2005)

Best Actor

  • Nominated: Annie Hall (1977)

Best Director

  • Won: Annie Hall (1977)
  • Nominated: Interiors (1978)
  • Nominated: Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
  • Nominated: Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
  • Nominated: Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
  • Nominated: Bullets Over Broadway (1994)

  • Five actors have won six Academy Awards for their work in Allen films: Diane Keaton (Best Actress, Annie Hall), Michael Caine (Best Supporting Actor, Hannah and Her Sisters), Dianne Wiest (Best Supporting Actress, Hannah and Her Sisters and Bullets Over Broadway), Mira Sorvino (Best Supporting Actress, Mighty Aphrodite), and Penélope Cruz (Best Supporting Actress, Vicky Cristina Barcelona).
  • Eleven actors have received Academy Award nominations for their work in Allen films: Allen himself (Best Actor, Annie Hall), Geraldine Page (Best Actress, Interiors), Martin Landau (Best Supporting Actor, Crimes and Misdemeanors), Chazz Palminteri (Best Supporting Actor, Bullets Over Broadway), Maureen Stapleton (Best Supporting Actress, Interiors), Mariel Hemingway (Best Supporting Actress, Manhattan), Judy Davis (Best Supporting Actress, Husbands and Wives), Jennifer Tilly (Best Supporting Actress, Bullets Over Broadway), Sean Penn (Best Actor, Sweet and Lowdown), and Samantha Morton (Best Supporting Actress, Sweet and Lowdown).


Allen has won a number of British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards and nominations for best picture, best director, best actor, and best screenplay. In 1997, he received the honorary BAFTA Fellowship for his work.

  • 1978 Won Best Film Annie Hall
  • 1978 Won Best Screenplay Annie Hall (with Marshall Brickman)
  • 1978 Won Best Direction Annie Hall
  • 1980 Won Best Film Manhattan
  • 1980 Won Best Screenplay Manhattan (with Marshall Brickman)
  • 1985 Won Best Screenplay Broadway Danny Rose
  • 1986 Won Best Film The Purple Rose of Cairo
  • 1986 Won Best Screenplay The Purple Rose of Cairo
  • 1987 Won Best Screenplay Hannah and Her Sisters
  • 1987 Won Best Direction Hannah and Her Sisters
  • 1993 Won Best Screenplay Husbands and Wives
  • Nominated for best film for Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days, Crimes and Misdemeanors.
  • Nominated for best actor for Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters.
  • Nominated for best director for Manhattan, Crimes and Misdemeanors.
  • Nominated for best screenplay for Zelig, Radio Days, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Bullets Over Broadway (with Douglas McGrath).

Title sequences

Virtually all of Allen's films since Annie Hall begin with the same style of title sequence, incorporating a series of black-and-white title cards in a vintage typeface (most often Windsor) reminiscent mostly of legendary Japanese director Yasujir Ozu, set to a selection of jazz music that occasionally figures prominently later in the film's story (e.g., Radio Days). Additionally, the cast is placed on one such title card and listed in alphabetical order, and not in the order of the relative "star power" of the actors at the time in which the film was made. This is reminiscent of silent-era films. There is one minor variation in Deconstructing Harry, where the titles are weaved in with a looped shot. Another exception to this is Manhattan, which opens with a series of black-and-white still shots of the city set to Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue"; the film's title comes after the opening narration is over.


Although best known for his films, Allen has also enjoyed a very successful career in theater, starting as early as 1960 when Allen was writing 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.[32] 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 was for Allen's writing or acting.[33]

In the '70s, Allen wrote a number of one-act plays, most notably God and Death, which were published in his 1975 collection Without Feathers.

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 Theatre World Award and a Drama Desk Award for his work), the play only ran for 62 performances.[34] As of January 2008, it is the last Allen work that ran on Broadway.

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.[35]

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 The Bank of Brazil Cultural Center in Rio de Janeiro,[36] and theatrical adaptations of Allen's films Bullets over Broadway [37] and September [38] 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.[39]

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.[40] The production sold out its entire run.[41]

Also that year, reports of Allen writing the book for a musical based on Bullets over Broadway surfaced, but no show ever formulated.[42] In 2004, Allen's first full-length play since 1981, A Second Hand Memory,[43] was directed by Allen and enjoyed an extended run off-Broadway.[41]

In June 2007, it was announced that Allen would make two more creative debuts in the theater, directing a work that he didn't write and directing an opera a re-interpretation of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi for the Los Angeles Opera[44] - which debuted at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on September 6, 2008.[45] Commenting on his direction of the opera, Allen said, I have no idea what Im doing. His production of the opera opened the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, in June 2009. [46]

Marriages and relationships

Harlene Rosen

At age 19, Allen married 16-year-old Harlene Rosen.[47] The marriage lasted five "nettling, unsettling years," from 1954 to 1959.[47]

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."

Louise Lasser

Allen married Louise Lasser in 1966. Allen and Lasser divorced in 1969, and Allen did not marry again until 1997. Lasser starred in four Allen films after the divorce--Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) and Sleeper--and made a brief appearance in Stardust Memories. Allen is alleged to have loosely based aspects of the "Harriet Harman" character in Husbands and Wives (the "kamikaze woman") on his relationship with Lasser.

Diane Keaton

In 1970, Allen cast Diane Keaton in his Broadway play Play It Again, Sam, which had a successful run. During this time, she became romantically involved with Allen and appeared in a number of his films, including Annie Hall. Keaton starred in Play It Again, Sam as Tony Roberts' wife. Although Allen and Keaton broke up after a year, she starred in a number of his films after their relationship had ended, 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. Furthermore, it is said that the role was written especially for her, and even the title speaks to this as Diane Keaton's given name is Diane Hall. She then starred in Interiors as a poet again, 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.

Stacey Nelkin

The film Manhattan is said 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.[48][49][50]

Mia Farrow

Starting around 1980, Allen began a 12-year relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who had leading roles in several of his movies from 1982 to 1992. Farrow and Allen never married, but they adopted two children together: 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 biological and adopted children, 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. In her autobiography, What Falls Away (New York: Doubleday, 1997), Farrow says that Allen admitted to a relationship with Soon-Yi.

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 inconclusive,[51] but called Allen's conduct with Soon-Yi "grossly inappropriate." She 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." Farrow ultimately won the custody battle over 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.

In a 2005 Vanity Fair interview,[52] Allen estimated that, despite the scandal's damage to his reputation, Farrow's discovery of Allen's attraction to Soon-Yi Previn, by accidentally 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."

Soon-Yi Previn

[[File:Soon Yi Previn and Woody Allen at the Tribeca Film Festival.jpg|thumb|left|Soon-Yi Previn and Allen at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.]] After breaking his relationship from Farrow in 1992, Allen continued his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. Even though Allen never married or lived with Farrow,[53] and was never Previn's legal stepfather, the relationship between Allen and Previn has often been referred to as a father dating his "stepdaughter," [54] since he had been perceived as being in the child's life in a father-like capacity since she was seven years old. For example, 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."[53] Despite assertions from Previn that Allen was never a father-figure to her,[55] the relationship became a cause célèbre. At the time, Allen was 56 and Previn was 22. Asked whether their age difference was conducive to "a healthy, equal relationship," Allen discounted the matter of equality and added this immortal protestation: "The heart wants what it wants."[55]

Allen and Previn married on December 24, 1997, in the Palazzo Cavalli in Venice, Italy. The couple has adopted two daughters, naming them Bechet and Manzie[56] after jazz musicians Sidney Bechet and Manzie Johnson.

Allen and Farrow's only biological son, Ronan Seamus Farrow, said of Allen: "He's my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression. I cannot see him. I cannot have a relationship with my father and be morally consistent.... I lived with all these adopted children, so they are my family. To say Soon-Yi was not my sister is an insult to all adopted children."[57]

[[File:Woody.Allen.band.jpg|frame|right|Woody Allen with Jerry Zigmont and Simon Wettenhall performing at Vienne Jazz Festival, Vienne, France.]]


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. He has performed publicly at least since the late 1960s, notably with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the soundtrack of Sleeper. One of his earliest televised performances was on The Dick Cavett Show on October 20, 1971.

Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band play every Monday evening at Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel, specializing in classic New Orleans jazz from the early twentieth century.[58] 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).

Allen and his band played the Montreal Jazz Festival on two consecutive nights in June 2008.

Work about or inspired by Woody Allen

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 Magazine 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.

Waiting for Woody Allen is a 2004 short film, starring Modi Rosenfeld, parodying Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. From 1976 to 1984, Stuart Hample wrote and drew Inside Woody Allen, a comic strip based on Allen's film persona. Central Park West Stories (Baldini Castoldi Dalai publisher, 2005) by Glauco Della Sciucca (Italian contributor to Columbia Journalism Review, The New Yorker, and The Jewish Week, since September 2003) are inspired by Allen. "Death of an Interior Decorator" is a song on Death Cab for Cutie's album Transatlanticism that was inspired by Woody Allen's Interiors. In Love Creeps, a novel by Amanda Filipacchi, a group of birders in Central Park spot Woody Allen and Soon-Yi stepping out onto their balcony and get very excited, which torments a nearby group of recovering stalkers from Stalkaholics Anonymous, causing one of them to suddenly lose his sobriety by grabbing the binoculars from around the neck of a birder to stare at Woody Allen and Soon-Yi.

The character George Costanza, from the sitcom Seinfeld, was originally performed as a caricature of Woody Allen, according to Jason Alexander, before the actor soon realized that Costanza was based on the show's co-creator, Larry David.

In 1998, the Spanish novel "Yo-Yo Boing!" by Giannina Braschi features a party scene in which Woody Allen fidgets and stammers while explaining literary classics and the films of Federico Fellini.

In 2003, Keith Black wrote, directed and starred in the award-winning film Get the Script to Woody Allen.[59] The feature was about a neurotic young man who is obsessed with getting his script to Woody.

While not making a case for direct influence or affinity while reviewing American Splendor inspired by/about graphic artist Harvey Pekar, columnist Jaime Wolf drew attention to formal parallels between the film and subject, on one hand, and Allen, Annie Hall, and other Allen films, on the other.[60]

The independent 2009 movie Mancattan,[61] written and directed by Phil Drinkwater and Colin Warhurst, charts the story of the two directors, playing fictional versions of themselves, flying over to New York from their native Manchester in order to make a documentary about Woody Allen. The film within a film is set against the backdrop of a bittersweet romantic comedy as the film cuts between events in Manhattan and flashbacks of Manchester.


Allen spent at least 30 years undergoing psychoanalysis, sometimes going three days a week. 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."[62]

Allen says he ended his psychotherapy visits around the time he began his relationship with Previn. He says he still is claustrophobic and agoraphobic.[52]


Main article: Woody Allen filmography

Theater works

In addition to directing, writing, and acting in films, Allen has written and performed in a number of Broadway theater productions.

Year Title Credit Venue
1960 From A to Z Writer (book) Plymouth Theatre
1966 Don't Drink the Water Writer
1969 Play It Again, Sam Writer, Performer (Allan Felix) Broadhurst Theatre[63]
1975 God Writer
1975 Death Writer
1981 The Floating Light Bulb Writer Vivian Beaumont Theatre
1995 Central Park West Writer Variety Arts Theatre
2003 Old Sybrook Writer, Director Atlantic Theatre Company
2003 Riverside Drive Writer, Director Atlantic Theatre Company
2004 A Second Hand Memory Writer, Director Atlantic Theater Company


Published plays

  • 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).

Short stories

  • Getting Even (1971), ISBN 0-394-47348-5
  • Without Feathers (1975), ISBN 0-394-49743-0
  • 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 978-0812978117.


  • Lunatic's Tale (1986), ISBN 1-55628-001-7 (Short story previously included in Side Effects.)

Further reading

  • Stardust Memories: Visiting Woody Michael antovský 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
  • "Why I Love London" by Simon Garfield, Guardian Unlimited, August 8, 2004
  • Woody Allen - A Biography; John Baxter (1999) ISBN 0-7867-0666-X
  • Woody Allen: Interviews (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 978-0-810-82993-0
  • "Woody plots film return to London" by A Correspondent, Times Online, November 30, 2005


  1. Greatest Film Directors of All Time. Retrieved on 2008-01-16.
  2. Woody Allen Biography (1935-)
  3. 3.0 3.1 The religion of Woody Allen, director and actor. Retrieved on 2008-01-16.
  4. Newman, Allen, and Kilganon. Curse of the Jaded Audience: Woody Allen, in Art and Life - New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-01-16. "I think he's slacked off the last few movies, said Norman Brown, 70, a retired draftsman from Mr. Allen's old neighborhood, Midwood, Brooklyn, who said he had seen nearly all of Mr. Allen's 33 films."
  5. The Unruly Life of Woody Allen
  6. The principal of P.S. 99 was Mrs. Eudora Fletcher; Allen has used her name for characters in several of his films.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Woody Allen : Comedian Profile. Retrieved on 2008-01-16.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Woody Allen: Rabbit Running. Time (1972-07-03). Retrieved on 2007-06-08.
  9. Famous college drop-outs who became successful businessmen - Non-Traditional College Students - Helium - by Glenda K. Fralin
  10. 10.0 10.1 IMDb: Woody Allen. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  11. TV Comedy Writer Danny Simon Dies. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  12. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmnLRVWgnXU
  13. Stardust Memories review. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  14. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/books/review/Kamp-t.html?ex=1352955600&en=a6afbde4f7e9bcfa&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink
  15. "Woody Speaks!", Premiere Magazine interview by Jason Matloff. [1]
  16. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/1988-1118/REVIEWS/811180301/1023 Roger Eberts review of Another Woman
  17. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19870130/REVIEWS/701300302/1023
  18. Woody Allen - Rotten Tomatoes Celebrity Profile. Retrieved on 2008-01-17./
  19. Melinda and Melinda review (2004) Woody Allen - Qwipster's Movie Reviews. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  20. Box Office Mojo - People Index. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  21. FOXNews.com - Woody Allens Next Star: Penelope Cruz - Celebrity Gossip. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  22. Spain woos Woody - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  23. Why I love London. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  24. Watch out for our Emma in Woody Allen's next movie. Retrieved on 2008-03-08.
  25. Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood to star in Woody Allen's next movie. Retrieved on 2008-02-07.
  26. Woody Allen Reveals Latest Movie Title: 'Whatever Works' - Cinematical
  27. Twilight of the Tummlers (2009) New York Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-06-10.
  28. Good Small Films
  29. Neatorama
  30. Mitchell, Elvis. "Arts", The New York Times, May 18, 2002.
  31. Woody Allen's love/hate relationship with Oscar. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  32. Internet Broadway Database: Don't Drink the Water Production Credits
  33. Internet Broadway Database: Play It Again, Sam Production Credits
  34. Internet Broadway Database: The Floating Light Bulb Production Credits
  35. Death Defying Acts and No One Shall Be Immune David Mamet Society
  36. http://www.playbill.com/news/article/36475.html
  37. Playbill News: Woody Allen Adaptation Debuts at Italian Theatre Festival, Aug. 1
  38. Playbill News: Stage Version of Woody Allen's September to Bow in France, Sept. 16
  39. http://www.playbill.com/news/article/36263.html
  40. Playbill News: Woody Allen's Writer's Block, with Neuwirth and Reiser, Opens Off-Broadway May 15
  41. 41.0 41.1 Playbill News: Two Weeks Added to Woody Allen's New Play, Second Hand Memory, at Off-Bway's Atlantic
  42. Playbill News: Work Continues of Musical Version of Bullets Over Broadway
  43. Playbill News: Woody Allen Directs His Second Hand Memory, Opening Nov. 22 Off-Broadway
  44. Woody Allen makes debut at opera, BBC News, BBC, 2008-09-08. URL accessed on 2008-09-08.
  45. Tommasini, Anthony, Puccini With a Sprinkling of Woody Allen Whimsy, The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 2008-09-07. URL accessed on 2008-09-08.
  46. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/08/arts/music/08arts-WOODYALLENSP_BRF.html
  47. 47.0 47.1 Woody Allen: Rabbit Running. TIME.com (1972-07-03). Retrieved on 2009-08-04.
  48. Fox, Julian. Woody: Movies from Manhattan. New York: Overlook Press, 1996. 111-112
  49. Baxter, John. Woody Allen: A Biography. New York: Caroll & Graf., 1998. 226, 248, 249, 250, 253, 273-4, 385, 416
  50. Bailey, Peter J. The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001. 61
  51. Brozan, Nadine. "Chronicle", The New York Times, May 13, 1994.
  52. 52.0 52.1 Biskind, Peter. "Reconstructing Woody," Vanity Fair, December 2005
  53. 53.0 53.1 Lax, Eric. "Magazine", The New York Times, Feb 24, 1991.
  54. Hornblow, Deborah. "Entertainment", LA Times, Aug 30, 2001.
  55. 55.0 55.1 Isaacson, Walter. "U.S.", Time, Aug 31, 1992.
  56. Woody Allen Ventures Out With Soon-Yi and the Kids. The New York Observer
  57. NICHOLL, KATIE, Woody Allen son: I'll never forgive dad ; Marriage to adopted daughter is 'immoral', Mail on Sunday, 2005-01-23, pp. 52. URL accessed on 2008-12-30.
  58. New Orleans Trombone, Jerry Zigmont - Jazz Trombone, Eddy Davis & His New Orleans Jazz Band featuring Woody Allen, Cafe Carlyle, Woody Allen Band. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  59. Get The Script To Woody Allen
  60. Slate "Harvey, Meet Woody: American Splendor vs. Annie Hall"; by Jaime Wolf 9-24-03. Retrieved 12-28-08
  61. Mancattan
  62. Moment Mag. Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  63. Woody Allen Biography (1935-). filmreference.com. Retrieved on 2008-02-28.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Woody Allen Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Woody Allen

  • Woody Allen Bibliography (via UC Berkeley Media Resources Center)
  • Woody Allen at the Internet Movie Database
  • Woody Allen at the TCM Movie Database
  • Woody Allen at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Woody Allen at the Internet off-Broadway Database
  • Works by or about Woody Allen in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Woody Allen Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.be-x-old: szl:Woody Allen
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