Woody Allen Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Woody Allen is one of the most highly regarded American screenwriters and humorists. He was born Allen Stewart Konigsberg in Brooklyn, New York, on December 1, 1935, the son of Martin and Nettie Cherry Konigsberg. He grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn while his father went from job to job and his mother kept the accounts in a flower shop. The young Allen spent his childhood playing baseball and basketball, listening to the radio, reading comic books, and teaching himself how to perform magic tricks and how to play the clarinet.{$S[A]Konigsberg, Allen Stewart;Allen, Woody}

When he was fifteen, Allen began sending jokes to gossip columnists Earl Wilson and Walter Winchell under the name Woody Allen, adopting his neighborhood nickname resulting from always being the one who supplied the stick for playing stickball. After his name was mentioned in Wilson’s column, he was hired to write jokes attributed to a press agent’s clients and later to create material for radio and television performers. After finishing high school and briefly attending New York University and the City College of New York, Allen became a full-time comedy writer for such television programs as Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows.

In 1961, he quit his job with The Garry Moore Show to become a stand-up comedian. Allen created the distinctive comic persona of a schlemiel unlucky in love and incompetent in all areas of modern life. His work as a comedian led to an offer from producer Charles K. Feldman to write a screenplay. Allen hated the resulting bedroom farce, What’s New, Pussycat?, so much that he decided to become a film director so that he could exert more control over his scripts. He first tested his skill as a filmmaker by taking a low-budget Japanese espionage thriller and dubbing it with outrageously incongruous English to create What’s up, Tiger Lily? At the same time, Allen expanded his interests to the theater with Don’t Drink the Water and Play It Again Sam and to the printed page with humorous short stories appearing in such publications as The New Yorker. He began his exceptionally prolific career as writer, director, and star of films with Take the Money and Run, and his films gradually evolved from extensions of his nightclub routines into insightful studies of male-female relations....

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(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Woody Allen was born Allen Stewart Konigsberg in Brooklyn, New York, on December 1, 1935. He was graduated from Brooklyn’s Midwood High School in 1953 and briefly attended New York University and City College of New York. While in the process of abandoning his formal education, Allen took on his soon-to-be-famous pseudonym and became a full-time comedy writer for the David O. Alber public relations firm. At age nineteen, he went to Hollywood as part of the National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) Writers Development Program, soon becoming a highly successful writer for nightclub acts, Broadway revues, and television shows. In 1960, Allen himself began to perform as a stand-up comedian. This led to acting opportunities as well. At the same time, Allen continued to write, turning out comic prose for sophisticated periodicals such as The New Yorker, plays good enough to be produced on Broadway, and screenplays that would be made into feature films. Ultimately, Allen’s dual career as performer and author came together as Allen wrote, directed, and starred in a number of distinguished motion pictures. Allen has been a longtime resident of New York City and has continued to base much of his work there.