Woody Allen is one
of the most well known names in the movie industry. His career as writer,
director, actor and producer spans over 30 years and still thrives.
His films linked drama and comedy. A very quiet man, Woody frequently
declines promoting his films. Allen
has produced a large body of films in a cerebral style that has made
him one of the most widely respected and prolific filmmakers in the
modern era. He writes and directs his own movies and has acted in many
of them as well.
Woody was born on
December 1st, 1935 in Brooklyn New York and was given the name Allen
Stewart Konigsberg. His parents were both Orthodox Jews of Austrian
and Russian ancestry, Martin Königsberg (born on December 25, 1900
in New York; died on January 13, 2001) and Netty Cherrie (born in 1908
in New York; died in January, 2002). He has one sister, Letty (born
1943). He attended Hebrew school for eight years, and then Public School.
changed jobs frequently, from waiter to cab driver and even organized
crime for a time. His mother was a bookkeeper in a flower shop.
Even as a little
child, before he could even read, he was making up stories. The
first film he saw was Disney’s Snow White, and he recalls his
parents taking him to movies around age five. He lived in a lower-middle
class section of Brooklyn within walking distance of 25 movie theaters.
He spent hours at theaters, taking in the classics with James Cagney,
Humphrey Bogart and the Marx Brothers. At
the age of 7 or 8 while watching The Black Swan, it first occurred to
Woody that he could make a film. What he really wanted to do was write,
and even as a little child, before he could read, he was making up stories.
The only subject in school that really interested him was English Composition.
In his teens, Woody grew more conscious of the role of directors, especially
foreign directors and films. With friends from school he became interested
in European Cinema and more mature themes, as well as film history.
At the age of 15,
he changed his name to Woody Allen. At
the age of 16, while still in school, Woody was hired to write jokes
for radio and television performers. In 1957 he joined the cast of Sid
1961-1964, Woody worked the cabaret circuit as a stand-up comedian,
writing his own material along with a few short stories. While performing
in a club, a producer approached him and asked him to write a film script.
He was hired and in 1965 Woody wrote and acted in his first film, What’s
New, Pussycat? After writing what he felt was a pretty good script,
the producers took it and rearranged it, making it into a film that
Woody was very unhappy with but could not do anything about. Although
he had no experience in directing films, Woody decided he would never
write another script unless he was the director.
After high school,
he went to New York University where he studied communication and film
but, never much of a student, he soon dropped out due to poor grades.
He later briefly attended City College of New York.
At nineteen, he
started writing scripts for The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show,
Your Show of Shows and others. In 1957, he won his first Emmy Award.
He started writing prose and plays, and in 1960 was a stand-up comedian
and began writing for Candid Camera and appeared in some episodes.
With his managers
he turned his weaknesses into his strengths and developed the neurotic,
nervous, and shy figure famous from his later movies. His
first conventional directing effort was Take The Money and Run (1969),
followed by Bananas, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex
(But Were Afraid to Ask), Sleeper, and Love and Death. In 1972, he starred
in the film version of his own play called Play It Again. All of Allen's
early films were pure comedies that relied heavily on slapstick, inventive
sight gags, and non-stop one-liners.
Allen's most successful
movies were produced in a 10-year period starting with Annie Hall, Manhattan,
The Purple Rose of Cairo (named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best
films of all time, and one of Allen's self-proclaimed three best films,
along with Stardust Memories and Match Point) and Hannah and Her Sisters
(winner of three Academy Awards). Most of his 1980's films, even the
comedies, have somber and philosophical undertones. Stardust
Memories had the main character, played by Allen, expressing resentment
and scorn for his fans. The film was influenced by a recent death of
a friend, and Allen stated "I don't want to make funny movies any
more." However, by the mid-1980s, Allen had begun to combine his
love of both tragic and comic elements..
Allen's films tend
to be more popular in Europe, particularly France, a country where he
has a large fan base; in fact, he himself has said that he "survives"
on the European market.
In 1956, at age
20, Allen married Harlene Rosen, a philosophy student. The two acrimoniously
divorced in 1962. Allen later married Louise Lasser in 1966 in what
began a pattern of romantic involvement with his leading ladies. Allen
and Lasser were divorced in 1969 and Allen would not marry again until
1997. In 1970, Allen cast Diane Keaton in Play It Again, Sam, and they
became romantically involved, but never married. Around 1980, Allen
began a 12-year relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who had leading
roles in several of his movies. The two never married, but they adopted
two children together: Dylan Farrow and Moses Farrow; and had one biological
child, Seamus Farrow. Allen did not adopt Farrow's older adopted daughter,
Soon-Yi Previn. Allen described their relationship as having a "more
Allen and Farrow
separated in 1992 after Farrow discovered nude photographs Allen had
taken of Soon-Yi and Allen admitted to an affair. During a protracted
legal battle, Farrow accused Allen of sexually abusing their seven-year-old
adopted daughter Dylan. The case never went to trial and Allen was never
indicted, but his personal
life became very public. Allen and Previn married in 1997 and later
adopted two daughters, naming both (Bechet Allen and Manzie Tio Allen)
after jazz musicians (Sidney Bechet and Manzie Johnson). The revelations
had a negative impact on Allen's reputation for several years, and his
subsequent works had only mediocre success until his 2005 film Match
Allen has spent
at least 30 years undergoing psychoanalysis, sometimes as often as three
days a week. Most of his films contain a psychoanalysis scene. A biographer
has written that "Allen obviously found analysis stimulating, even