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....

(The entire section is 971 words.)

Woody Allen Biography

(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.

Woody Allen Biography

(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

Early Life

After brief sojourns at New York University and the City College of New York, Woody Allen (born Allen Stuart Konigsberg), a gagwriter since his midteens, went to Hollywood in 1955, participating in the National Broadcasting Company’s Writers’ Development Program. He worked as a television writer until 1958, when he began his association with Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe, the future managers and producers of his films. They encouraged him to try stand-up comedy.

The 1960’s

In his stand-up act, Allen developed his persona, a college dropout whose intellectual pretensions often expose his confusions, a sometime idealist comically incapable of living up to his ideals, and a sexual predator whose neurotic insecurities render him terminally dependent on therapy. The heterodoxy and irreverence of the persona’s religious attitudes take on an additional comic edge because he has never gotten over being a nice Jewish boy.

In addition to contributing stories and sketches to The New Yorker and writing two successful Broadway plays—Don’t Drink the Water (1966) and Play It Again, Sam (1968)—Allen was increasingly involved in films in the latter half of the 1960’s. His work as actor and writer on What’s New, Pussycat? (1965) and Casino Royale (1967) provided little in the way of artistic satisfaction, but What’s New, Pussycat? did well commercially, enhancing Allen’s emerging star quality.

What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) remains an amusing footnote to Allen’s career, but the emergence of Allen as filmmaker may more properly be dated from 1969, the year Take the Money and Run was released. Allen was the star, writer, and director, but the film editor, Ralph Rosenblum, imposed on the material a form and pace that had escaped its creator. Allen was still serving his apprenticeship as a filmmaker, but he would eventually establish himself as a major film artist.

Later Life

Allen, who received an Academy Award for direction for Annie Hall in 1977, became a filmmaker of international stature. Although many of his films have had limited appeal outside New York City and a few other major urban centers, his critical reputation has grown steadily, and by the middle of the 1990’s, he had won a growing and enthusiastic audience in Europe.

Allen’s personal life caused a stir in the 1990’s when he acknowledged dating Soon-Yi Farrow, the adopted daughter of actress Mia Farrow with whom he had had a long-term relationship and a son. Allen married the young woman in 1998.


(The entire section is 1099 words.)

Woody Allen Biography

(Novels for Students)

Woody Allen was born Allen Stewart Konigsberg in Brooklyn, New York, in 1935. Allen decided when he was just a child that he wanted to write...

(The entire section is 482 words.)