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Allen Woody Biography

Film director, actor, writer. Born Allan Stewart Konigsberg, on December 1, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York, to Martin and Nettie Konigsberg. Allen is known best as the creator of films infused with self-deprecating, intellectual banter. His films typically parody the neuroses of the social class of New York sophisticates to which Allen himself belongs. Allen briefly attended New York City College, although he never graduated. During college, he wrote one-liners for the columnist Earl Wilson. It was at this time that he changed his name from Allan Konigsberg to Woody Allen. Soon after, he began writing for television, and in the early ‘60s, he worked as a stand-up comedian. In 1964, Woody Allen, a comedy album featuring his stand-up material, was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 1965, he wrote his first screenplay, What’s New, Pussycat, a film in which he also starred. Following the success of this film, he directed What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), a James Bond spoof that was not as commercially successful as What’s New, Pussycat, but which nonetheless established Allen as a cutting edge humorist. The cast lists for Allen’s films usually read like a who’s who of Hollywood. His featured stars are often the most established or up-and-coming actors of the day, and he frequently works with the same actors as well as technical crew. Dianne Wiest, for instance, was featured in Radio Days (1987) and Bullets Over Broadway (1994). Judy Davis, another Allen favorite, has appeared in Husbands and Wives (1992), Deconstructing Harry (1997), and Celebrity (1998). Additionally, Allen has a history of casting his significant others for his films. Louise Lasser, to whom Allen was married in the late ‘60s, starred in numerous film and theater projects penned by Allen. Works featuring Diane Keaton, whom Allen dated in the ‘70s, included Sleeper (1973); Annie Hall (1977), which earned Allen an Oscar for Best Director; Manhattan (1979); and Radio Days (1987). Mia Farrow, for whom Allen wrote numerous roles throughout their long-standing relationship, appeared in The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), also featuring Wiest; Alice (1990), Shadows and Fog (1992) and Husbands and Wives (1992). Allen is the recipient of numerous awards for his film work. Among his honors, he has been nominated for 20 Academy Awards, winning three; as well as nine Golden Globes—one which he won for the critically acclaimed The Purple Rose of Cairo.

His most recent films include Sweet and Lowdown (1999), starring Samantha Morton and Sean Penn in Oscar-nominated performances; and Small Time Crooks (2000), costarring Tracey Ullman as the wife of failed criminal, played by Allen. A jazz clarinet player, since 1997, Allen has played with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band in New York City. He is the author of numerous humor collections, including Getting Even (1971), Without Feathers (1975), and The Lunatic’s Tale (1986). In 1954, Allen married childhood sweetheart Harlene Rosen, but the couple divorced in 1960. In 1964, he married actress Louise Lasser, who had appeared in Allen’s 1965 film, What’s New, Pussycat. She and Allen divorced in 1969. Lasser was also featured in Allen’s Stardust Memories (1980). In 1980, Allen and actress Mia Farrow began a long-term relationship, and the couple had a son, Satchel (now Seamus), born in 1987. Together they adopted two more children—Moses and Dylan (now Eliza). In 1992, while living with Farrow, Allen became romantically involved with Farrow’s adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, who was then 21. His relationship with Previn launched a media frenzy, during which time Allen and Farrow severed ties. In 1997, Allen and Previn married in Venice. They are the parents of two adopted daughters, Bechet (named after jazz clarinetist Sidney Bechet, Allen’s idol) and Manzie Tio. .

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