Woody Allen is the assumed name of Allen Stewart Königsberg, an American actor, director and screenwriter.
He was born in New York to a modest Jewish family on December 1, 1935.
By the time Allen was in high school he was writing jokes and gags for newspapers. He moved on to theater and TV, performing as a stand-up comedian in nightclubs.
At 23, he started regular psychotherapy, a theme that would later permeate his movies, more often than not with irony and tenderness. “Psychoanalysis is a myth kept alive by the mattress industry,” Allen once quipped.
In 1969, Allen directed Take the Money and Run, the story of an inept, unlucky crook. It was the first film the comedian wrote, directed and starred in. Between 1971 and 1975 he would write, direct and star in four additional films, including Play it Again, Sam, which he didn’t direct. He gradually developed his persona: a neurotic intellectual with a star-crossed love life. His characters stood out for their sharp, bittersweet Jewish humor and pungent self-deprecation.
Allen entered into a relationship with actress Diane Keaton, who starred with him in Annie Hall, a film about a comedy writer’s love life. In the movie, Allen used flashback and fantasy asides to illustrate the lives of his characters, paying homage to one of his favorite directors, Federico Fellini.
The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Film. But Allen didn’t show up at the L.A. gala, preferring to remain in his beloved New York City, which he would later pay homage to in Manhattan, a movie he shot in black and white.
In 1983 Allen made Zelig, a mockumentary about a man who becomes famous for his uncanny ability to imitate anyone he’s around. The film lampooned conformity and media sensationalism, and starred Allen and his new companion, Mia Farrow.
Allen continued producing a stream of winning movies, both comedies and dramas. Among them was Another Woman, a film that bore signs of another major film influence, the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.
In 1992, Allen’s life was tainted by scandal when he was revealed to be having an affair with Soon-Yi, the young adopted daughter of his companion Mia Farrow.
Allen continues to produce a film a year, but his US domestic success was in decline for many years until the release of Midnight In Paris (2011). In Europe, however, his films have always been enormously popular. Audiences across the globe consider him among the major modern directors.