Woody Allen

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Related to Allen Konigsberg: Allan Stewart Konigsberg
Woody Allen
Allan Stewart Konigsberg
BirthplaceThe Bronx, New York, U.S.
Actor, director, screenwriter, comedian, musician, playwright

Allen, Woody,

1935–, American actor, writer, and director, one of contemporary America's leading filmmakers, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., as Allen Stewart Konigsberg. Allen began his career writing for television comedians and performing in nightclubs. His early film comedies, which often depict neurotic urban characters preoccupied with sex, death, and psychiatry, include Sleeper (1973) and Annie Hall (1977; Academy Award, best picture). Much of Allen's later work in comedy and drama explores these themes as well as a sophisticated New Yorker's various other preoccupations.

A prolific filmmaker, he has made more than 40 motion pictures. Among his later films are the stylish Manhattan (1979); Broadway Danny Rose (1984), a New York comedy; the probing family drama Hannah and Her Sisters (1986; Academy Award, best screenplay); the 1930s comedy Radio Days (1987); the searing Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989); the bittersweet domestic drama Husbands and Wives (1992); the romantic and partly musical Everyone Says I Love You (1996); and the fictional jazz biography Sweet and Lowdown (1999). Several subsequent films failed to achieve the critical and popular plaudits earned by many earlier films, but Match Point (2005), a tale of wealth, lust, crime, and luck set in London, did much to revive his flagging reputation. Allen turned to Catalonia, Spain, for his sensual, melancholy-tinged comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), and to Paris for his atmospheric Midnight in Paris (2011; Academy Award, best original screenplay). Blue Jasmine (2013), the story of a rich matron fallen on hard times, echoes Tennessee WilliamsWilliams, Tennessee
(Thomas Lanier Williams), 1911–83, American dramatist, b. Columbus, Miss., grad. State Univ. of Iowa, 1938. One of America's foremost 20th-century playwrights and the author of more than 70 plays, he achieved his first successes with the productions of
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's Streetcar Named Desire, and Magic in the Moonlight (2014) replays the debate between rationalism and superstition in a period romantic comedy. Subsequent films, which have featured Allen's usual themes, have generally fallen short of his earlier work. Allen also has written humorous prose pieces and plays. In 1992, in a bitter public dispute, Allen left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, and then sued the actress for custody of their children and lost (1993).


See his The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose (2007); Woody Allen on Woody Allen (1995) and E. Lax, Conversations with Woody Allen (2007); his memoir, Apropos of Nothing (2020); biographies by E. Lax (1991), J. Baxter (1999), and M. Meade (2000); studies by D. Jacobs (1982), F. Hirsch (rev. ed. 1990), S. B. Girgus (1993), D. Brode (1997), and E. Lax (2017); documentary dir. by B. Kopple (1998).

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Allen, Woody (b. Allen Stewart Konigsberg)

(1935–  ) film actor, director, scriptwriter, playwright; born in New York City. He began his career writing jokes for columnists and comedians, then appeared in nightclubs with his own material, establishing the persona that would persist through most of his ensuing works: the flustered neurotic, obsessed with sex and death. His first film, as scriptwriter and actor, was What's New, Pussycat? (1965), and he went on to write, direct, and star in a series of films, some lightweight, some heavy, but the best of which—such as Annie Hall (1977), for which he won three Oscars—drew on his inimitable brand of verbal-situational absurdism. He is the author of two Broadway hits and collections of humorous essays, many of which first appeared in the New Yorker, and is a talented clarinetist who plays regularly in a New York jazz club. Said to be as neurotic in real life as in his scripted roles, he had a long-term relationship with one of his leading actresses, Mia Farrow, with whom he had a daughter. In 1992, their relationship dissolved in recriminations when he acknowledged an attachment with one of her young adopted daughters.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.