Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg; December 1, 1935) is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema. He is also a jazz clarinetist who performs regularly at small venues in Manhattan.
Allen was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, the son of Nettie (born Cherrie; November 8, 1906 – January 27, 2002), a bookkeeper at her family's delicatessen, and Martin Konigsberg (December 25, 1900 – January 13, 2001), a jewelry engraver and waiter. His family was Jewish and his grandparents were immigrants who spoke Yiddish, Hebrew, and German; both of his parents were born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. 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 he had a rocky relationship with his stern, temperamental mother. Allen spoke German quite a bit during his early years. While attending Hebrew school for eight years, he went to Public School 99 (now The Isaac Asimov School for Science and Literature) and to Midwood High School. During that time, he lived in an apartment at 1402 Avenue K, between East 14th and 15th Streets. Unlike his comic persona, he was more interested in baseball than school and his strong arms ensured he was the first to be picked for a team. He impressed students with his extraordinary talent at card and magic tricks. To raise money he began writing jokes (or "gags") for the agent David O. Alber, who sold them to newspaper columnists. According to Allen, his first published joke read: "Woody Allen says he ate at a restaurant that had O.P.S. prices – over people's salaries."
He began to call himself Woody Allen. He would later joke that when he was young he was often sent to inter-faith summer camps, where he "was savagely beaten by children of all races and creeds." At the age of 17, he legally changed his name to Heywood Allen. He was already earning more than both of his parents combined.
After high school, he attended New York University (NYU), where he studied communication and film. He later briefly attended City College of New York and soon flunked out. Later, he learned via self-study rather than the classroom. He eventually taught at The New School. He also studied with writing teacher Lajos Egri.p.74
He became a full-time writer for Herb Shriner, earning $75 a week at first. At the age of 19, he started writing scripts for The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, specials for Sid Caesar post-Caesar's Hour (1954–1957), and other television shows.p.111 By the time he was working for Caesar, he was making $1500 a week; with Caesar he worked alongside Danny Simon, whom Allen credits for helping him to form his writing style.
In 1961, he started a new career as a stand-up comedian, debuting in a Greenwich Village club called the Duplex. 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"). Together with his managers, 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. Allen brought innovation to the comedy monologue genre and his stand-up comedy is considered influential.
Allen wrote for the popular Candid Camera television show, and appeared in some episodes.
Allen started writing short stories and cartoon captions for magazines such as The New Yorker; he was inspired by the tradition of four prominent New Yorker's humorists, S. J. Perelman, George S. Kaufman, Robert Benchley and Max Shulman, whose material he modernized. 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.
He also became a successful Broadway playwright and wrote Don't Drink the Water in 1966. It starred Lou Jacobi, Kay Medford, Anita Gillette and Allen's future movie co-star Tony Roberts. A film adaptation of the play, directed by Howard Morris, was released in 1969, starring Jackie Gleason. Because he was not particularly happy with the 1969 film version of his play, in 1994, Allen directed and starred in a third version for television, with Michael J. Fox and Mayim Bialik.
The next play Allen wrote that was produced on Broadway was Play It Again, Sam, which he also starred in. The play opened on February 12, 1969, and ran for 453 performances. It also featured Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts. Allen, Keaton and Roberts would reprise their roles in the film version of the play, directed by Herbert Ross. For its March 21 issue, Life featured Allen on its cover. In 1981, his play The Floating Light Bulb premiered on Broadway and ran for 65 performances. While receiving mixed reviews, it was noted for giving an autobiographical insight into Allen's childhood, specifically his fascination with magic tricks. He has written several one-act plays, including 'Riverside Drive' and 'Old Saybrook' which both explore well-known Allen themes.
On October 20, 2011, 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 he 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 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, 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 he asks his actors to work for far less than what they would normally be paid, Allen remains one of a handful of writers and directors who has been able to maintain complete control over his own work.
Allen's first directorial effort was What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966, co-written with Mickey Rose), in which an existing Japanese spy movie – Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi (1965), "International Secret Police: Key of Keys" – was redubbed in English by Allen and his friends with entirely new, comic dialogue.
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 Allen scripted his own sequences, although in this case uncredited.
Allen directed, starred in, and wrote Take the Money and Run in 1969. That same year he starred in his own TV special, The Woody Allen Special. On the show he 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 guest appearances 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, 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, he wrote and starred in the film version of Play It Again, Sam, which was directed by Herbert Ross and co-starred Diane Keaton. In 1976, he starred in The Front (directed by Martin Ritt) a humorous and poignant account of Hollywood blacklisting during the 1950s.
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 clothes worn by Diane Keaton in the film (the masculine clothing, such as ties with cardigans, was actually Keaton's own). While in production, its working title was "Anhedonia," a term that means the inability to feel pleasure and its plot revolved around a murder mystery. Allen re-cut the movie after production ended to focus on the romantic comedy between Allen's character, Alvy Singer, and Keaton's character, Annie Hall. The new version, retitled Annie Hall (named after Keaton, Hall being her original last name and Annie a nickname), still deals with the theme of the inability to feel pleasure. The film is ranked at No. 35 on the American Film Institute's "100 Best Movies" and at No. 4 on the AFI list of "100 Best Comedies."
Manhattan, released in 1979, is a black-and-white film that can be viewed as an homage to New York City. As in many other Allen films, the protagonists are upper-middle class academics. The love-hate opinion of cerebral persons found in Manhattan is characteristic of many of Allen's movies including Crimes and Misdemeanors and Annie Hall. Manhattan focuses on the complicated relationship between a middle-aged Isaac Davis (Allen) and a 17-year-old Tracy (Mariel Hemingway).
Between Annie Hall and Manhattan, Allen wrote and directed the dark drama Interiors (1978), in the style of the late Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, one of Allen's chief influences. Interiors represented a departure from Allen's "early, funny" comedies (a line from 1980's Stardust Memories).
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 Allen uses many elements from Bergman's Wild Strawberries in Another Woman. Similarly, the Federico Fellini classic Amarcord strongly inspired Radio Days.
Stardust Memories features Sandy Bates, a successful filmmaker played by Allen, who expresses resentment and scorn for his fans. Overcome by the recent death of a friend from illness, the character states, "I don't want to make funny movies any more" and a running gag has various people (including a group of visiting space aliens) telling Bates that they appreciate his films, "especially the early, funny ones." Allen believes this to be one of his best films.
Allen combined tragic and comic elements in such films as Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors, in which he tells two stories that connect at the end. He also produced a vividly idiosyncratic tragi-comical parody of documentary, Zelig.
He made three films about show business: Broadway Danny Rose, in which he plays a New York show business agent, The Purple Rose of Cairo, a movie that shows the importance of the cinema during the Depression through the character of the naive Cecilia, and Radio Days, which is a film about his childhood in Brooklyn and the importance of the radio. Purple Rose was named by Time as one of the 100 best films of all time and Allen has described it as one of his three best films, along with Stardust Memories and Match Point. (Allen defines them as "best" not in terms of quality but because they came out the closest to his original vision.)
In 1989, Allen teamed up with directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese to make New York Stories, an anthology film about New Yorkers. Allen's short, Oedipus Wrecks, is about a neurotic lawyer and his critical mother. His short pleased critics, but New York Stories bombed at the box office.
His 1992 film Shadows and Fog is a black-and-white homage to the German expressionists and features the music of Kurt Weill. Allen then made his critically acclaimed drama Husbands and Wives (1992), which received two Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actress for Judy Davis and Best Original Screenplay for Allen. His film Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) combined suspense with dark comedy and marked the return of Diane Keaton, Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston.
He returned to lighter movies like Bullets Over Broadway (1994), which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, followed by a musical, Everyone Says I Love You (1996). The singing and dancing scenes in Everyone Says I Love You are similar to many musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The comedy Mighty Aphrodite (1995), in which Greek drama plays a large role, won an Academy Award for Mira Sorvino. Allen's 1999 jazz-based comedy-drama Sweet and Lowdown was also nominated for two Academy Awards for Sean Penn (Best Actor) and Samantha Morton (Best Supporting Actress). In contrast to these lighter movies, Allen veered into darker satire towards the end of the decade with Deconstructing Harry (1997) and Celebrity (1998). Allen made his only sitcom "appearance" to date (2009) via telephone on the show Just Shoot Me! in a 1997 episode, "My Dinner with Woody" which paid tribute to several of his films. Allen also provided the lead voice in the 1998 animated film Antz, which featured many actors he had worked with and had Allen play a character that was similar to his earlier neurotic roles.
Small Time Crooks (2000) (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: 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 Allen's next four films floundered at the box office, including Allen's most expensive film, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (with a budget of $26 million). Hollywood Ending, Anything Else, and Melinda and Melinda were given "rotten" ratings from film-review website Rotten Tomatoes and each earned less than $4 million domestically. 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. Others have been less harsh; reviewing the little-liked Melinda and Melinda, Roger Ebert wrote, "I cannot escape the suspicion that if Woody had never made a previous film, if each new one was Woody's Sundance debut, it would get a better reception. His reputation is not a dead shark but an albatross, which with admirable economy Allen has arranged for the critics to carry around their own necks." Woody gave his godson Quincy Rose a small part in Melinda and Melinda. Allen was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.
Match Point (2005) was one of 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 Allen's first four films with DreamWorks SKG. In Match Point, Allen shifts his focus from the intellectual upper class of New York to the moneyed upper class of London. It earned more than $23 million domestically (more than any of his films in nearly 20 years) and over $62 million in international box office sales. 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, Hugh Jackman, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally and Allen himself. The film was released on July 28, 2006, and received mixed reviews. He has also filmed Cassandra's Dream in London. Cassandra's Dream was released in November 2007, and stars Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor and Tom Wilkinson.
After finishing his third London film, Allen headed to Spain. He reached an agreement to film Vicky Cristina Barcelona in Avilés, Barcelona and Oviedo, where shooting started on July 9, 2007. The movie stars Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall and Penélope Cruz. Speaking of his experience there, Allen said: "I'm delighted at being able to work with Mediapro and make a film in Spain, a country which has become so special to me." Vicky Cristina Barcelona was well received, winning "Best Musical or Comedy" at the Golden Globe awards. Penélope Cruz received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film.
Allen has said that he "survives" on the European market. Audiences there have tended to be more receptive to Allen's films, particularly in Spain, France and Italy – countries where he has a large audience (something joked about in Hollywood Ending). "In the United States things have changed a lot, and it's hard to make good small films now," Allen said in a 2004 interview. "The avaricious studios couldn't care less about good films – if they get a good film they're twice as happy but money-making films are their goal. They only want these $100 million pictures that make $500 million."
In April 2008, he 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 Allen in the 1970s and the character now played by Larry David was originally written for Zero Mostel, who died the year Annie Hall came out.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, filmed in London, stars Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Anupam Kher, Freida Pinto and Naomi Watts. Filming started in July 2009. It was released theatrically in the US on September 23, 2010, following a Cannes debut in May 2010, and a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2010. Allen announced that his next film would be titled Midnight in Paris, 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. Allen said he wanted to "show the city emotionally," during the press conference. "I just wanted it to be the way I saw Paris – Paris through my eyes," he added. Midnight in Paris has overthrown Hannah and Her Sisters to become 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, Nero Fiddled, 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 Allen's return to acting since his last role in Scoop. In October 2011, Woody Allen's one-act play called Honeymoon Motel priemered as one in a series of one act plays on Broadway called Relatively Speaking. Also contributing to the effort are Elaine May and Ethan Coen with John Turturro directing.
For many years, Allen wanted to make a film about the origins of jazz in New Orleans. The film, tentatively titled American Blues, would follow the vastly different careers of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet. Allen has stated that the film would cost between $80 and $100 million and is therefore unlikely to be made.
Distinction in the film world
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.
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, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress 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, where he stated, "I didn't have to present anything. I didn't have to accept anything. I just had to talk about New York City." He was given a standing ovation before introducing a montage of movie clips featuring New York.
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.
Although best known for his films, Allen has also enjoyed a very successful career in theater, starting as early as 1960, when Allen wrote sketches for the revue From A to Z. His first great success was Don't Drink the Water, which opened in 1968, and ran for 598 performances for almost two years on Broadway. His success continued with Play it Again, Sam, which opened in 1969, starring Allen and Diane Keaton. The show played for 453 performances and was nominated for three Tony Awards, although none of the nominations were for Allen's writing or acting.
In the 1970s, 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 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 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.
For the next couple of years, Allen had no direct involvement with the stage, yet notable productions of his work were being staged. A production of God was staged at The Bank of Brazil Cultural Center in Rio de Janeiro, and theatrical adaptations of Allen's films Bullets Over Broadway and September 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.
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. The production sold out its entire run.
Also that year, reports of Allen writing the book for a musical based on Bullets Over Broadway surfaced, but no show ever formulated. In 2004, Allen's first full-length play since 1981, A Second Hand Memory, was directed by Allen and enjoyed an extended run Off-Broadway.
In June 2007, it was announced that Allen would make two more creative debuts in the theater, directing a work that he did not write and directing an opera – a re-interpretation of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi for the Los Angeles Opera – which debuted at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on September 6, 2008. Commenting on his direction of the opera, Allen said, "I have no idea what I'm doing." His production of the opera opened the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, in June 2009.
Marriages and relationships
At age 19, 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 Allen referred to in his standup act as "the Dread Mrs. Allen," later sued Allen for defamation due to comments at a TV appearance shortly after their divorce. Allen tells a different story on his mid-1960s standup album Standup Comic. In his act, Allen said that Rosen sued him because of a joke he made in an interview. Rosen had been sexually assaulted outside her apartment and according to Allen, the newspapers reported that she "had been violated." In the interview, Allen said, "Knowing my ex-wife, it probably wasn't a moving violation." In a later interview on The Dick Cavett Show, Allen brought the incident up again where he repeated his comments and stated that the amount that he was being sued for was "$1 million."
Allen married Louise Lasser in 1966. They divorced in 1969, and Allen did not marry again until 1997. Lasser starred in three Allen films after the divorce – Take the Money and Run, Bananas, and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) – and made a brief appearance in Stardust Memories.
In 1970, Allen cast Diane Keaton in his Broadway show, Play It Again, Sam. During the run she and Allen became romantically involved and although they broke up after a year, she continued to star in a number of his films, including Sleeper as a futuristic poet and Love and Death as a composite character based on the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Annie Hall was very important in Allen and Keaton's careers. It is said that the role was written specifically for her as Diane Keaton's given name is Diane Hall. She then starred in Interiors as a poet, followed by Manhattan. In 1987, she had a cameo as a night-club singer in Radio Days and was chosen to replace Mia Farrow in the co-starring role for Manhattan Murder Mystery after Allen and Farrow began having troubles with their personal and working relationship while making this film. Keaton has not worked with Allen since Manhattan Murder Mystery. Since the end of their romantic relationship, Keaton and Allen have remained close friends.
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 Allen, reportedly began when she was 17 years old and a student at New York's Stuyvesant High School.
Around 1980, Allen began a relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who had leading roles in several of his movies from 1982 to 1992. Farrow and Allen never married and kept separate 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). Allen did not adopt any of Farrow's other family, including Soon-Yi Farrow Previn (the adopted daughter of Farrow and André Previn, now known as Soon-Yi Previn). Allen and Farrow separated in 1992, after Farrow discovered nude photographs that Allen had taken of a then 20-year-old 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 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 won custody of their children. Allen was denied visitation rights with Malone and could see Ronan only under supervision. Moses, who was then 14, chose not to see Allen.
In a 2005 Vanity Fair interview, Allen estimated that, despite the scandal's damage to his reputation, Farrow's discovery of Allen's attraction to Soon-Yi Previn by finding nude photographs of her was "just one of the fortuitous events, one of the great pieces of luck in my life. . . It was a turning point for the better." Of his relationship with Farrow, he said, "I'm sure there are things that I might have done differently. . . Probably in retrospect I should have bowed out of that relationship much earlier than I did." In a report June 22, 2011, Reuters quoted Allen as saying, "What was the scandal? I fell in love with this girl, married her. We have been married for almost 15 years now. There was no scandal, but people refer to it all the time as a scandal and I kind of like that in a way because when I go I would like to say I had one real juicy scandal in my life."
After ending his relationship with Mia Farrow in 1992, Allen continued his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. Even though Allen never married Mia Farrow and was never Previn's legal stepfather, the relationship between Allen and Previn has often been referred to as a father involved romantically with his stepdaughter since he had been perceived as being in Previn's life in a father-like capacity. 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." Despite assertions from Previn that Allen was never a father figure to her, the relationship became a scandal. In 1991, when the relationship started, Allen was 56 and Previn was 21. Asked whether their age difference was conducive to "a healthy, equal relationship," 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."
Allen and Previn married on December 24, 1997, in the Palazzo Cavalli in Venice. The couple has adopted two daughters, naming them Bechet and Manzie Tio after jazz musicians Sidney Bechet, Manzie Johnson and Lorenzo Tio, Jr.
Allen and Farrow's 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."
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 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 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.
Allen's films span six decades, starting with 1965's What's New Pussycat?. He has written, directed, and starred in many of them, including films such as Annie Hall (1977), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and Husbands and Wives (1992), all of which earned major awards. Originally known for his comedies, his early successes were followed by his first purely dramatic work, Interiors (1978).
Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema. He is also a jazz clarinetist who performs regularly at small venues in Manhattan.
A staff writer for The New Yorker for decades, Liebling wrote stylishly and authoratatively on an enormous range of subjects: "Between Meals" (food), "The Road Back to Paris" (war), "Earl of Louisiana" (political biography), "The Press", along with books on New York and Chicago. "The Sweet Science", on boxing, is a classic of sports literature.