Allen's distinctive films, which run the gamut from dramas to screwball sex comedies, have made him one of the most respected living American directors. He is also distinguished by his rapid rate of production and his very large body of work. Allen writes and directs his movies and has also acted in the majority of them. For inspiration, Allen draws heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema, among a wealth of other fields of interest.
Allen is also a jazz clarinetist. What began as a teenage avocation has led to regular public performances at various small venues in his hometown of Manhattan, with occasional appearances at various jazz festivals. Allen joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the New Orleans Funeral Ragtime Orchestra in performances that provided the film score for his 1973 comedy Sleeper, and a rare European tour in 1996 featuring Allen was the subject of the documentary Wild Man Blues.
She was seven years old!
He originally was in relationship to Mia Farrow with who he had a biological son, Ronan Seamus Farrow. They adopted other children, as Soon-Yi Previn who became Allen wife, and Dylan Farrow, who said that Allen began molesting her at age seven and when she complained, everyone just ignored it.
—Dylan Farrow, who noted that to this day, she finds it hard to look at toy trains.
Woody Allen denied the allegations, however in a 1976 interview by People Magazine, he said:
—Woody Allen in a People Magazine interview, October 04, 1976 Vol. 6 No. 14. Angst-Ridden Humorist By Jim Jerome
Allen was born and raised in New York City, the son of Nettie (née Cherrie; November 8, 1906 - January 27, 2002), a bookkeeper at her family's delicatessen, and Martin Konigsberg (December 25, 1900 - January 13, 2001), a jewelry engraver and waiter. His family was Jewish and his grandparents were Yiddish- and German-speaking immigrants. Allen has a sister, Letty (born 1943), and was raised in Midwood, Brooklyn. His parents were both born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His childhood wasn't particularly happy. His parents didn't get along, and he had a rocky relationship with his stern, temperamental mother. 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. To raise money he began writing gags for the agent David O. Alber, who sold them to newspaper columnists. According to Allen, his first published joke read: "Woody Allen says he ate at a restaurant that had O.P.S. prices—over people's salaries."
He began to call himself Woody Allen. He was a highly gifted young comedian and would later joke that when he was young he was sent to inter-faith summer camp, where he was "sadistically beaten by boys of all races and creeds." At the age of 17, he legally changed his name to Heywood Allen.
After high school, he went to New York University (NYU), where he studied communication and film. He was never committed as a student, so he failed a film course, and was eventually expelled. He later briefly attended City College of New York, and eventually taught at The New School.
After breaking his relationship from Mia Farrow in 1992, Allen continued his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. Even though Allen never married or lived with Farrow, and was never Previn's legal stepfather, the relationship between Allen and Previn has often been referred to as a father dating his "stepdaughter," since he had been perceived as being in the child's life in a father-like capacity. For example, in 1991, The New York Times described Allen's family life by reporting, "Few married couples seem more married. They are constantly in touch with each other, and not many fathers spend as much time with their children as Allen does." Despite assertions from Previn that Allen was never a father-figure to her, the relationship became a cause célèbre. At the time, Allen was 56 and Previn was 22. Asked whether their age difference was conducive to "a healthy, equal relationship," Allen discounted the matter of equality and added this protestation: "The heart wants what it wants."
Allen and Previn married on December 24, 1997, in the Palazzo Cavalli in Venice, Italy. The couple has adopted two daughters, naming them Bechet and Manzie after jazz musicians Sidney Bechet and Manzie Johnson.
Allen and Farrow's only biological son, Ronan Seamus Farrow, said of Allen: "He's my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression. I cannot see him. I cannot have a relationship with my father and be morally consistent.... I lived with all these adopted children, so they are my family. To say Soon-Yi was not my sister is an insult to all adopted children".
- People Magazine October 04, 1976 Vol. 6 No. 14. Angst-Ridden Humorist By Jim Jerome