Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians
Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg, December 1, 2021) is a Jewish American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, author, and playwright, whose career spans over half a century.
Woody Allen 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, Woody Allen started performing as a stand-up comic, emphasizing monologues rather than traditional jokes. As a comic, Woody Allen developed the persona of an insecure, intellectual, fretful nebbish, which Woody Allen insists is quite different from his real-life personality. In 2004, Comedy Central ranked Woody Allen in fourth place on a list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics, while a UK survey ranked Woody Allen as the third greatest comedian.
By the mid-1960s Woody Allen was writing and directing films, first specializing in slapstick comedies before moving into more dramatic material influenced by European art films during the 1970s. Woody Allen is often identified as part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmakers of the mid-1960s to late '70s. Woody Allen often stars in his own films, typically in the persona Woody Allen developed as a standup. The best-known of his over 40 films include the Academy Award-winners Annie Hall (1977), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Midnight in Paris (2011); and the Golden Globe-winning The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). Critic Roger Ebert has described Woody Allen as "a treasure of the cinema."
Woody Allen is also a jazz clarinetist who performs regularly at small venues in Manhattan.
Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Königsberg in The Bronx and raised in Brooklyn, NY, the son of Nettie (born Cherrie; November 8, 2021 – January 27, 2002), a bookkeeper at her family's delicatessen, and Martin Königsberg (December 25, 2021 – January 13, 2022), a jewelry engraver and waiter. His family was Jewish and his grandparents were German immigrants who spoke Yiddish, Hebrew, and German; both of his parents were born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Woody Allen has a sister, Letty, who was born in 1943, and was raised in Midwood, Brooklyn. His childhood was not particularly happy: his parents did not get along, and Woody Allen had a rocky relationship with his stern, temperamental mother. Woody Allen spoke German quite a bit during his early years. While attending Hebrew school for eight years, Woody Allen went to Public School 99 (now The Isaac Asimov School for Science and Literature) and to Midwood High School. During that time, Woody Allen lived in an apartment at 1402 Avenue K, between East 14th and 15th Streets. Unlike his comic persona, Woody Allen was more interested in baseball than school and his strong arms ensured Woody Allen was the first to be picked for a team. Woody Allen impressed students with his extraordinary talent at card and magic tricks. To raise money Woody Allen began writing jokes (or "gags") for the agent David O. Alber, who sold them to newspaper columnists. According to Woody Allen, his first published joke read: "Woody Allen says Woody Allen ate at a restaurant that had O.P.S. prices – over people's salaries."
Woody Allen began to call himself Woody Allen. Woody Allen would later joke that when Woody Allen was young Woody Allen was often sent to inter-faith summer camps, where Woody Allen "was savagely beaten by children of all races and creeds." At the age of 17, Woody Allen legally changed his name to Heywood Woody Allen. Woody Allen was already earning more than both of his parents combined.
After high school, Woody Allen attended New York University, where Woody Allen studied communication and film. Woody Allen later briefly attended City College of New York and soon flunked out. Later, Woody Allen learned via self-study rather than the classroom. Woody Allen eventually taught at The New School. Woody Allen also studied with writing teacher Lajos Egri.p.74
Woody Allen became a full-time writer for Herb Shriner, earning $75 a week at first. At the age of 19, Woody Allen 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.p.111 By the time Woody Allen was working for Caesar, Woody Allen was making $1500 a week; with Caesar Woody Allen worked alongside Danny Simon, whom Woody Allen credits for helping him to form his writing style.
In 1961, Woody Allen started a new career as a stand-up comedian, debuting in a Greenwich Village club called the Duplex. Examples of Woody Allen's standup act can be heard on the albums Standup Comic and Nightclub Years 1964–1968 (including his classic routine entitled "The Moose"). Together with his managers, Woody Allen developed a neurotic, nervous, and intellectual persona for his stand-up routine, a successful move which secured regular gigs for him in nightclubs and on television. Woody Allen brought innovation to the comedy monologue genre and his stand-up comedy is considered influential.
Woody Allen wrote for the popular Candid Camera television show, and appeared in some episodes.
Woody Allen started writing short stories and cartoon captions for magazines such as The New Yorker; Woody Allen 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 Woody Allen modernized. Woody 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.
Woody Allen also became a successful Broadway playwright and wrote Don't Drink the Water in 1966. It starred Lou Jacobi, Kay Medford, Anita Gillette and Woody 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 Woody Allen was not particularly happy with the 1969 film version of his play, in 1994, Woody Allen directed and starred in a third version for television, with Michael J. Fox and Mayim Bialik.
The next play Woody Allen wrote that was produced on Broadway was Play It Again, Sam, which Woody Allen also starred in. The play opened on February 12, 1969, and ran for 453 performances. It also featured Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts. Woody 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 Woody Allen on its cover. 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 Woody Allen's childhood, specifically his fascination with magic tricks. Woody Allen has written several one-act plays, including 'Riverside Drive' and 'Old Saybrook' which both explore well-known Woody Allen themes.
On October 20, 2011, Woody Allen's one-act play Honeymoon Motel opened as part of a larger piece entitled Relatively Speaking on Broadway, along with two other one-acts by Ethan Coen and Elaine May.
His first movie was the Charles K. Feldman production What's New Pussycat? in 1965, for which Woody Allen wrote the initial screenplay. Warren Beatty hired him to re-write a script and to appear in a small part in the movie. Over the course of the re-write, Beatty's role was lessened and Woody Allen's increased. 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. Because of this experience, Woody Allen realized the importance of having control of his own writing. Despite the fact that most of his movies do not gross well and the fact that due to the small amounts of money his producers are able to raise Woody Allen asks his actors to work for far less than what they would normally be paid, Woody Allen remains one of a handful of writers and directors who has been able to maintain complete control over his own work.
Woody 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 Woody Allen and his friends with entirely new, comic dialogue.
Woody Allen also appeared in Feldman's follow-up to What's New Pussycat?, the James Bond spoof Casino Royale. A number of writers contributed to the film, but once again Woody Allen scripted his own sequences, although in this case uncredited.
Woody Allen directed, starred in, and wrote Take the Money and Run in 1969. That same year Woody Allen starred in his own TV special, The Woody Allen Special. On the show Woody Allen performed standup comedy routines before a live audience and acted in a sketch with Candice Bergen in which they appeared nude but their bodies were kept hidden from view by the camera. The special also had Woody Allen interviewing evangelist Billy Graham and performances by the pop vocal group The 5th Dimension, singing their hit singles "Workin' On A Groovy Thing" and "Wedding Bell Blues." The show's sponsor, Libby's, broadcast comical commercials starring Tony Randall as a detective.
From 1971 to 1975, Woody Allen co-wrote, directed, and starred in 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 co-written by his childhood friend, Mickey Rose.
In 1972, Woody 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, Woody Allen starred in The Front (directed by Martin Ritt) a humorous and poignant account of Hollywood blacklisting during the 1950s.
Then came two of Woody Allen's finest 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. Woody Allen re-cut the movie after production ended to focus on the romantic comedy between Woody 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 Woody Allen films, the protagonists are upper-middle class academics. The love-hate opinion of cerebral persons found in Manhattan is characteristic of many of Woody Allen's movies including Crimes and Misdemeanors and Annie Hall. Manhattan focuses on the complicated relationship between a middle-aged Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) and a 17-year-old Tracy (Mariel Hemingway).
Between Annie Hall and Manhattan, Woody Allen wrote and directed the dark drama Interiors (1978), in the style of the late Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, one of Woody Allen's chief influences. Interiors represented a departure from Woody Allen's "early, funny" comedies (a line from 1980s Stardust Memories).
Woody Allen's 1980s films, even the comedies, have somber and philosophical undertones. Some are influenced by the works of European directors, notably Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. September resembles Bergman's Autumn Sonata, and Woody Allen uses many elements from Bergman's Wild Strawberries in Another Woman. Similarly, the Federico Fellini classic Amarcord strongly inspired Radio Days. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy in 1982 was adapted from Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night. It was the first of 13 movies Woody Allen made starring Mia Farrow, who stepped in to Diane Keaton's role when Keaton was busy shooting Reds.
Stardust Memories features Sandy Bates, a successful filmmaker played by Woody 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." Woody Allen believes this to be one of his best films.
Woody Allen combined tragic and comic elements in such films as Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors, in which Woody Allen tells two stories that connect at the end. Woody Allen also produced a vividly idiosyncratic tragi-comical parody of documentary, Zelig.
Woody Allen made three films about show business: Broadway Danny Rose, in which Woody Allen 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. Purple Rose was named by Time as one of the 100 best films of all time and Woody Allen has described it as one of his three best films, along with Stardust Memories and Match Point. (Woody Allen defines them as "best" not in terms of quality but because they came out the closest to his original vision.)
In 1989, Woody Allen teamed up with directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese to make New York Stories, an anthology film about New Yorkers. Woody 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. Woody 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 Woody Allen. His film Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) combined suspense with dark comedy and marked the return of Diane Keaton, Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston.
Woody Allen 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. Woody 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, Woody Allen veered into darker satire towards the end of the decade with Deconstructing Harry (1997) and Celebrity (1998). Woody 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. Woody Allen also provided the lead voice in the 1998 animated film Antz, which featured many actors Woody Allen had worked with and had Woody Allen play a character that was similar to his earlier neurotic roles.
Small Time Crooks (2000) (a remake of the 1942 film comedy Larceny, Inc., written by S. J. Perelman and starring Edward G. Robinson) was his first film with the DreamWorks studio and represented a change in direction: Woody Allen began giving more interviews and made an attempt to return to his slapstick roots. Small Time Crooks was a relative financial success, grossing over $17 million domestically but Woody Allen's next four films floundered at the box office, including Woody 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. Some critics claimed that Woody Allen's films since 1999's Sweet and Lowdown were subpar and expressed concern that Woody Allen's best years were now behind him. 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 Woody Allen has arranged for the critics to carry around their own necks." Woody gave his godson Quincy Rose a small part in Melinda and Melinda. Woody Allen was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.
Match Point (2005) was one of Woody Allen's most successful films of the decade, garnering very positive reviews. Set in London, it starred Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. It is also markedly darker than Woody Allen's first four films with DreamWorks SKG. In Match Point, Woody 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. Match Point earned Woody 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, Woody Allen stated this was the best film Woody Allen has ever made.
Woody Allen returned to London to film Scoop, which also starred Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally and Woody Allen himself. The film was released on July 28, 2006, and received mixed reviews. Woody Allen 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, Woody Allen headed to Spain. Woody Allen 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. Speaking of his experience there, Woody 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.
Woody Allen has said that Woody Allen "survives" on the European market. Audiences there have tended to be more receptive to Woody Allen's films, particularly in Spain, France and Italy – countries where Woody Allen 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," Woody 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."
In April 2008, Woody Allen began filming for a movie focused more towards older audiences starring Larry David, Patricia Clarkson and Evan Rachel Wood. Released in 2009, Whatever Works, described as a dark comedy, follows the story of a botched suicide attempt turned messy love triangle. Whatever Works was written by Woody 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. Woody Allen announced that his next film would be titled Midnight in Paris, starring Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Gad Elmaleh and French First Lady Carla Bruni. 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. Woody Allen said Woody Allen 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," Woody Allen added. Midnight in Paris has overthrown Hannah and Her Sisters as Woody Allen's most successful film at the box office in the United States. It has also opened to much critical acclaim, and has been considered by many critics to mark his return to form. His next film, To Rome with Love, is a Rome-set comedy slated for a 2012 release. The film will be structured in four different vignettes featuring dialogue in both Italian and English. The film will mark Woody Allen's return to acting since his last role in Scoop.
For many years, Woody 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. Woody Allen has stated that the film would cost between $80 and $100 million and is therefore unlikely to be made.
It was announced in February 2012 that Woody Allen would adapt Bullets Over Broadway into a Broadway musical scheduled to open in 2013.
Distinction in the film world
Over the course of his career, Woody 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.
Woody Allen's film Annie Hall won four Academy Awards in 1977, including Best Picture.
Woody Allen won the 1978 O. Henry Award for his short story The Kugelmass Episode, published in The New Yorker on May 2, 1977.
Woody 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, Woody Allen won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for The Purple Rose of Cairo. In 2009 Woody Allen won the same award for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. In 2012, Woody Allen 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, Woody 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, Woody Allen received a Career Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.
In 1996, Woody Allen received a lifetime achievement award from the Directors Guild of America.
In 2002, Woody Allen won the Prince of Asturias Award. Subsequently, the city of Oviedo, Spain, erected a life-size statue of Woody Allen.
In 2002, Woody Allen received the Palme des Palmes, a special lifetime achievement award granted by the Cannes Festival.
In a 2005 UK poll The Comedian's Comedian, Woody Allen was voted the third greatest comedy act ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
In June 2007, Woody Allen received a PhD Honoris Causa from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain.
Woody 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 (2012)), and one Best Director (Annie Hall (1978)). Woody Allen has been nominated a total of 23 times: 15 as a screenwriter, seven as a director, and once as an actor. Woody Allen has more screenwriting Academy Award nominations than any other writer; all are in the Best Original Screenplay category. Woody Allen 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 Woody 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 regularly received both nominations and Academy Awards for their work in Woody Allen films, particularly in the Best Supporting categories: In 1987 Michael Caine and Diane Wiest won for Hannah and Her Sisters, in 1995 Diane Wiest again won for Bullets Over Broadway, in 1996 Mira Sorvino won for Mighty Aphrodite , and in 2009 Penelope Cruz won for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Despite friendly recognition from the Academy, Woody Allen has consistently refused to attend the ceremony or acknowledge his Oscar wins. Woody Allen broke this pattern only once. At the Academy Awards ceremony in 2002, Woody 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 Woody Allen stated, "I didn't have to present anything. I didn't have to accept anything. I just had to talk about New York City." Woody Allen was given a standing ovation before introducing a montage of movie clips featuring New York.
Woody 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, Woody Allen 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
2012 – Nominated – Best Screenplay – Midnight in Paris
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, and Bullets Over Broadway (with Douglas McGrath).
Although best known for his films, Woody Allen has also enjoyed a very successful career in theater, starting as early as 1960, when Woody 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 Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. The show played for 453 performances and was nominated for three Tony Awards, although none of the nominations were for Woody Allen's writing or acting.
In the 1970s, Woody Allen wrote a number of one-act plays, most notably God and Death, which were published in his 1975 collection Without Feathers.
In 1981, Woody 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. As of January 2008, it is the last Woody Allen work that ran on Broadway.
After a long hiatus from the stage, Woody 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.
For the next couple of years, Woody 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, and theatrical adaptations of Woody Allen's films Bullets Over Broadway and September were produced in Italy and France, respectively, without Woody Allen's involvement. In 1997, rumors of Woody Allen returning to the theater to write a starring role for his wife Soon-Yi Previn turned out to be false.
In 2003, Woody 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 Woody Allen. The production sold out its entire run.
Also that year, reports of Woody Allen writing the book for a musical based on Bullets Over Broadway surfaced, but no show ever formulated. In 2004, Woody Allen's first full-length play since 1981, A Second Hand Memory, was directed by Woody Allen and enjoyed an extended run Off-Broadway.
In June 2007, it was announced that Woody Allen would make two more creative debuts in the theater, directing a work that Woody Allen did not write and directing an opera – a re-interpretation of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi for the Los Angeles Opera – which debuted at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on September 6, 2008. Commenting on his direction of the opera, Woody 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.
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. Also contributing to the plays are Elaine May and Ethan Coen with John Turturro directing.
Marriages and relationships
At age 19, Woody Allen married 16-year-old Harlene Rosen. The marriage lasted from 1954 to 1959. Time stated that the years were "nettling" and "unsettling."
Rosen, whom Woody Allen referred to in his standup act as "the Dread Mrs. Woody Allen," later sued Woody Allen for defamation due to comments at a TV appearance shortly after their divorce. Woody Allen tells a different story on his mid-1960s standup album Standup Comic. In his act, Woody Allen said that Rosen sued him because of a joke Woody Allen made in an interview. Rosen had been sexually assaulted outside her apartment and according to Woody Allen, the newspapers reported that she "had been violated." In the interview, Woody Allen said, "Knowing my ex-wife, it probably wasn't a moving violation." In a later interview on The Dick Cavett Show, Woody Allen brought the incident up again where Woody Allen repeated his comments and stated that the amount that Woody Allen was being sued for was "$1 million."
Woody Allen married Louise Lasser in 1966. They divorced in 1969, and Woody Allen did not marry again until 1997. Lasser appeared in three Woody 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, Woody Allen cast Diane Keaton in his Broadway show, Play It Again, Sam. During the run she and Woody 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 Woody 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 Woody Allen and Farrow began having troubles with their personal and working relationship while making this film. Keaton has not worked with Woody Allen since Manhattan Murder Mystery. Since the end of their romantic relationship, Keaton and Woody Allen have remained close friends.
The film Manhattan is said by the Los Angeles Times 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 Woody Allen, reportedly began when she was 17 years old and a student at New York's Stuyvesant High School.
Around 1980, Woody Allen began a relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who had leading roles in several of his movies from 1982 to 1992. Farrow and Woody Allen never married and kept separate homes 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). Woody 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). Woody Allen and Farrow separated in 1992, after Farrow discovered nude photographs that Woody Allen had taken of a then 20-year-old Soon-Yi. In her autobiography, What Falls Away (New York: Doubleday, 1997), Farrow says that Woody Allen admitted to a relationship with Soon-Yi.
After Woody Allen and Farrow separated, a long public legal battle for the custody of their three children began. During the proceedings, Farrow alleged that Woody 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 but called Woody 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 won custody of their children. Woody Allen was denied visitation rights with Malone and could see Ronan only under supervision. Moses, who was then 14, chose not to see Woody Allen.
In a 2005 Vanity Fair interview, Woody Allen estimated that, despite the scandal's damage to his reputation, Farrow's discovery of Woody 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, Woody Allen 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 Woody 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."
After ending his relationship with Mia Farrow in 1992, Woody Allen continued his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. Even though Woody Allen never married Mia Farrow and was never Previn's legal stepfather, the relationship between Woody Allen and Previn has often been referred to as a father involved romantically with his stepdaughter since Woody Allen had been perceived as being in Previn's life in a father-like capacity. For example, in 1991, The New York Times described Woody 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 Woody Allen does." Despite assertions from Previn that Woody Allen was never a father figure to her, the relationship became a scandal. In 1991, when the relationship started, Woody Allen was 56 and Previn was 21. Asked whether their age difference was conducive to "a healthy, equal relationship," Woody Allen said equality is not necessarily a requirement in a relationship and said, "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."
Woody Allen and Previn married on December 24, 1997, in the Palazzo Cavalli in Venice. The couple have adopted two daughters, naming them Bechet and Manzie Tio after jazz musicians Sidney Bechet, Manzie Johnson and Lorenzo Tio, Jr.
Woody Allen and Farrow's biological son, Ronan Seamus Farrow, is widely quoted, without source or date, as disparaging Woody Allen and having said Woody Allen cannot see him.
Woody Allen is a passionate fan of jazz, which is often featured prominently in the soundtracks to his films. Woody Allen began playing as a child and took his stage name from clarinetist Woody Herman. Woody Allen 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 have been playing each Monday evening at Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel for many years (as of 2011, specializing in classic New Orleans jazz from the early twentieth century). The documentary film Wild Man Blues (directed by Barbara Kopple) documents a 1996 European tour by Woody 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).
Woody Allen and his band played the Montreal Jazz Festival on two consecutive nights in June 2008.
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 Woody Allen with clips of his films, and Meetin' WA, a short interview of Woody 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 Woody Allen's film persona.
Woody Allen spent over 37 years undergoing psychoanalysis. Many of his films contain references to psychoanalysis. Even the film Antz, an animated feature in which Woody Allen contributes the voice of lead character Z, opens with a classic piece of Woody Allen analysis shtick.
Moment Magazine says, "It drove his self-absorbed work." John Baxter, author of Woody Allen – A Biography, wrote, "Woody Allen obviously found analysis stimulating, even exciting."
Woody Allen says Woody Allen ended his psychoanalysis visits around the time Woody Allen began his relationship with Previn. Woody Allen says Woody Allen still is claustrophobic and agoraphobic.
Main article: Woody Allen filmography
Woody Allen's films span six decades, starting with 1965's What's New Pussycat?. Woody Allen 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).
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