Allen's distinctive films, which run the gamut from dramas to screwball sex comedies, have made him a notable American director. He is best known for his bittersweet comic films containing elements of parody, slapstick, and the absurd.
Allen writes and directs his movies and has also acted in the majority of them. He is also distinguished by his rapid rate of production and his very large body of work.
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 came into his own in the 1970s as a writer, actor and director in movie comedies like Bananas (1971) and Sleeper (1973).
He won a best picture Oscar for his ode to modern love in New York, Annie Hall (1977) and since then he's been considered a major American filmmaker.
Allen has written and directed a new film almost every year since the late 70s.
He has averaged about one movie a year, including serious films such as Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and Husbands and Wives (1992), and lighthearted comedies such as Zelig (1983) and Bullets Over Broadway (1994), ‘Mighty Aphrodite’ in 1995, which won an Oscar, Best Actress in a Supporting Role Mira Sorvino, ‘Everybody Says I Love You’ in 1996.
Still, he's widely considered one of America's greatest filmmakers, and famous actors still speak of being "in a Woody" as if it's the next best thing to winning an Oscar.
First Major Screen Credit: What's New Pussycat? (1965).
Career Highlights: Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters, Annie Hall.
Oscar 4 wins and 24 nominations.
Oscar for Best Director 1978 for Annie Hall (1977).
Oscar for Best Screenplay 1978 for Annie Hall (shared).
Oscar for Best Screenplay 1987 for Hannah and Her Sisters(1986).
Oscar for Best Screenplay Midnight in Paris (2011).
Golden Globe 2 wins and 4 nominations.
Golden Globe 1986 for The Purple Rose of Cairo (best screenplay).
Golden Globe 2012 for Midnight in Paris (best screenplay).
British Academy Film Awards 10 wins 13 nominations.
Intending to be a playwright, Allen began writing stand-up comedy monologues while still in high school.
At the age of 15, he started selling one-liners to gossip columns, receiving $200 a week.
At the age of 17, he legally changed his name to Heywood Allen.
To raise money he began writing gags to newspaper columnists.
He was always quick with a quip, and by the time he was 18 he was writing one-liners for Guy Lombardo, Danny Kaye, and Bob Hope.
At age 19, he started writing scripts for The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, Caesar's Hour and other television shows.
In 1961, he started a new career as a stand-up comedian, debuting in a Greenwich Village club called the Duplex.
Through the rest of the 60s and 70s, Allen made hilarious comedies before he decided to "quit clowning around" and began making more serious films.
His first movie production was What's New, Pussycat? in 1965, for which he wrote the initial screenplay.
He directed his first film a year later, What's Up, Tiger Lily? in 1966.
He wrote over 40 screenplays for his films, among them: Stardust Memories (1980), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Match Point (2005), Midnight in Paris (2011). His last works are: Blue Jasmine (2013), mystery drama Irrational Man (2015) with Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey and Jamie Blackley. Café Society (2016) with Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Blake Lively.
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.
As a young boy, he became intrigued with magic tricks and playing the clarinet. Later Allen is also an accomplished jazz clarinetist, a hobby featured in the 1998 documentary Wild Man Blues. These two hobbies he continues to do today.
He was married three times. His wives where Harlene Rosen (1954–1959) and Louise Lasser (1966–1969). Recently He has been married to Soon-Yi Previn (1997–present). Allen has 2 sons and 3 douhters: Moses Farrow (son), Dylan Farrow (daughter), Ronan Farrow (son), Bechet Dumaine Allen (daughter),
Manzie Tio Allen (daughter)
He was also known as a sympathetic director for women, writing strong and well-defined characters for them. Among his featured performers were Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow, with both of whom he was romantically involved.
Five actors have won six Academy Awards for their work in Allen films: Diane Keaton (Best Actress, Annie Hall), Michael Caine (Best Supporting Actor, Hannah and Her Sisters), Dianne Wiest (Best Supporting Actress, Hannah and Her Sisters and Bullets Over Broadway), Mira Sorvino (Best Supporting Actress, Mighty Aphrodite), and Penélope Cruz (Best Supporting Actress, Vicky Cristina Barcelona).