Heywood "Woody" Allen, born on December 1, 1935, is a multifaceted Jewish-American filmmaker, screenwriter, playwright, actor, comedian, musician, and author. He is one of the most significant figures in cinema, with a career that spans from the second half of the 20th century well into the 21st century.
Allen has been honored with Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for his iconic film "Annie Hall," as well as Best Original Screenplay for "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Midnight in Paris." Actors in his films have also received Oscars over the years.
Early Life:Born Allan Stewart Konigsberg in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jewish family, Allen's parents, Martin and Nettie, resided in Midwood, where he attended a Jewish school on Sundays for eight years. Concurrently, he attended Public School 99 and later Midwood High School, where he impressed his peers with his talent for card tricks, a skill that would later be showcased in his film "Scoop."
To earn money, he began writing jokes for the David O. Alber Agency, which sold them to newspaper columnists. At the age of 16, he started writing for celebrities like Sid Caesar and adopted the stage name "Woody Allen." Despite enrolling at New York University to study communication arts, he soon abandoned formal education, believing that his true education came from reading literature and philosophy books outside the classroom.
At 19, Allen married Harlene Rosen and began writing scripts for television shows like "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Tonight Show." In 1957, he won his first Emmy Award. Around the same time, he divorced Harlene.
He began writing books and plays and ventured into stand-up comedy in the 1960s. He also started writing for the popular television show "Candid Camera" and made a few guest appearances.
It was during this time that he, along with his managers, transformed his neurotic and insecure personality into a comedic asset, a persona that would become well-known in his later films. In 1970, he had a romantic relationship with actress Diane Keaton, and even after their breakup a year later, they remained close, with Keaton appearing in several of his films, including "Annie Hall," where she won an Oscar for her performance.
Allen's first directed film was "What's New Pussycat?" (1965). His first significant foray into directing was the Japanese film "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" (1966), in which he added a new English soundtrack with entirely different comedic dialogue. In 1967, he appeared in the unofficial James Bond film "Casino Royale." His first regular directing job was "Take the Money and Run" (1969).
Among his early films, you can find "Bananas," "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)," "Sleeper," and "Love and Death." These films were characterized by slapstick humor, visual gags, and witty wordplay.
In 1972, Allen starred in "Play It Again, Sam," based on a play he had written, which had been highly successful on Broadway. This marked his first cinematic collaboration with Diane Keaton and the second film he wrote but did not direct.
In 1976, he played in "The Front," directed by Martin Ritt, a film that seriously explored the Hollywood blacklist era of the 1950s. He returned to directing in 1977 with "Annie Hall," a film that signaled a shift towards more sophisticated humor (the film won four Oscars). He also directed several serious dramas, including "September," which some have said erased European directors, notably Ingmar Bergman, from the map. In the 1990s, he returned to lighter films with happy endings, such as "Bullets Over Broadway," "Everyone Says I Love You," and others.
In 1997, Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn married, and they later adopted two daughters named Bechet Allen (named after jazz musician Sidney Bechet) and Manzie Tio Allen (named after jazz musician Manzie Johnson). Allen is also a clarinet player and has been performing jazz music since the 1960s. He regularly performs in New York with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band, specializing in New Orleans-style jazz from the early 20th century.
In 2002, Woody Allen made a surprise appearance at the Oscars and participated in a tribute to New York City after the September 11 attacks. His films in the 2000s, including "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," "Scoop," and "Whatever Works," enjoyed commercial success.
In 2011, he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for "Midnight in Paris." In 2013, he received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for his lifetime achievements, which Diane Keaton accepted on his behalf.
In 2014, Allen's film "Magic in the Moonlight," starring Colin Firth, Emma Stone, and Marcia Gay Harden, was released. That same year, he played a central role in John Turturro's film "Fading Gigolo."
Despite the controversies and debates surrounding his personal life and decisions, Woody Allen remains an influential and enduring figure in the world of cinema.
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