Date of Birth: December 1st 1935
Woody Allen (born Allen Stewart Königsberg on December 1, 1935) is a three-time Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, actor, jazz musician, comedian, and playwright. His large body of work and cerebral film style, mixing satire, wit and humor, have made him one of the most respected and prolific filmmakers in the modern era. Allen writes and directs his movies and has also acted in the majority of them. For inspiration, Allen draws heavily on literature, philosophy, psychology, Judaism, European cinema and New York City, where he was born and has lived his entire life.
Allen was born and raised in New York City to a Jewish family; his grandparents were Yiddish and German-speaking immigrants. His parents, Martin Königsberg (born on December 25, 1900 in New York; died on January 13, 2001) and Nettea Cherrie (born in 1908 in New York; died in January 2002), and his sister, Letty (born 1943), lived in Midwood, Brooklyn. His parents were both born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His mother worked as a bookkeeper at her family's business. Allen spoke Yiddish during his early years and, after attending Hebrew school for eight years, went to Public School 99 and to Midwood High School. During that time, he lived in part on Avenue K, between East 14th and 15th Streets. Nicknamed "Red" because of his red hair, he impressed students with his extraordinary talent at card and magic tricks. Though in his films and his comedy persona he has often depicted himself as physically inept and socially unpopular, in fact Woody Allen was a popular student, and an adept baseball and basketball player.
Allen started writing short stories for magazines (most notably The New Yorker) as well as plays, the best known of which are the Broadway productions Don't Drink the Water (1966) and Play It Again, Sam (1969).
Annie Hall marked a major turn to more sophisticated humor and thoughtful drama. Allen's 1977 film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture – an unusual feat for a comedy. Annie Hall set the standard for modern romantic comedy, and also started a minor fashion trend with the unique clothes worn by Diane Keaton in the film (the offbeat, 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. Apparently, as filmed, the murder mystery plot did not work (and was later used in his 1993 Manhattan Murder Mystery), so Allen re-edited and 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's grandmother), still deals with the theme of the inability to feel pleasure. 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," Annie Hall is considered to be among Allen's best.
In 1970, Allen cast Diane Keaton in his Broadway play Play It Again, Sam, which had a successful run. During this time she became romantically involved with Allen and appeared in a number of his films, including Annie Hall. Keaton starred in Play It Again, Sam as Tony Roberts's lover. Although Allen and Keaton broke up after a year, she starred in a number of his films after their relationship had ended including Sleeper as a futuristic poet; and in Love and Death as a female character from any Russian novel by Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. Annie Hall was very important in Allen and Keaton's careers. Not only that, but it is said that the role was written especially for her, and even the title speaks to this as Diane Keaton's given name is Diane Hall. She then starred in Interiors as a poet again, followed by Manhattan. Later, she had a cameo in Radio Days, and later, she starred in Manhattan Murder Mystery, because Allen wanted to do it when he did Annie Hall. She has not worked with Allen since Manhattan Murder Mystery, although they are good friends.