US actor, director, and writer, who has created the image of the bespectacled and neurotic misfit in a sophisticated world, a portrayal much enhanced by the exploitation of his own unimpressive physical stature.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Allen dropped out of college at eighteen and set himself up as a gag writer and comedy writer, contributing to magazines and television shows. He switched to being a stand-up comic in the early 1960s and, after a period performing his own material in nightclubs, What's New Pussycat? (1965) gave him his break into films, as screenwriter and actor. This was followed by Casino Royale (1967). Allen began his career as a director with films of his two Broadway hits, Don't Drink the Water and Play It Again Sam, (1969 and 1972 respectively), the latter being particularly memorable for the portrayal of the classic screen hero Humphrey Bogart, humorously contrasted with the unimposing self-deprecating anti-hero played by Allen. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask (1972) followed.
During the 1970s Allen's companion Diane Keaton(1946– ), who first played opposite him in Play It Again Sam, starred in several of his other films, including Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), the Oscar-winning Annie Hall (1977), for which he received an award as director and co-screenwriter, and Manhattan (1979). His first break from comedy came with Interiors (1978), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award as best director. Allen's films of the 1980s and early 1990s included Zelig (1983), Broadway Danny Rose (1984), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and Crimes and Misdemeanours (1990), most of which co-starred his long-term companion Mia Farrow (1945– ). In 1992–93 Allen's private life brought him unwelcome and damaging publicity, when his break-up with Farrow led to a prolonged custody battle for their son. During the case it was revealed that Allen had had a sexual relationship with Farrow's adopted teenage daughter Soon-Yi (the couple later married). Although this affair brought Allen a good deal of censure, his professional life continued to thrive, with such films as Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Mighty Aphrodite (1995), and Deconstructing Harry (1997) bringing him both commercial and critical success.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Literature.