Name at birth: Allen Stewart KonigsbergWoody Allen is the Oscar-winning director of Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris and dozens of other films. Once a writer for Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, and then a popular stand-up comic in the 1960s, Woody Allen came into his own in the 1970s as a writer, actor and director in movie comedies like Bananas (1971) and Sleeper (1973). His on-screen persona was by then well established: a comical and brainy New York nebbish, nervously chatting about love, sex and death. He won a best picture Oscar for his ode to modern love in New York, Annie Hall (1977, with frequent co-star and then-girlfriend Diane Keaton); the film turned him from a well-regarded comedian into a major American filmmaker. Since the 1980s he has averaged about one movie a year, including serious films such as Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and Husbands and Wives (1992), thoughtful romances like Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and lighthearted comedies such as Zelig (1983) and Bullets Over Broadway (1994). In 1993 he endured a storm of publicity after leaving his longtime lover Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. The scandal may have turned off filmgoers, but it didn't slow down Allen's movie making. His films since then have included Small Time Crooks (2000, with Tracey Ullman), Anything Else (2002, starring Christina Ricci), Match Point (2005, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008, with Johansson and Javier Bardem), and the surprisingly popular romantic comedy Midnight in Paris (2011). The latter film was nominated for best picture, and Allen won the Oscar for best original screenplay. Woody Allen is also an accomplished jazz clarinetist, a hobby featured in the 1998 documentary Wild Man Blues.
Woody Allen has won four Academy Awards in all: for best director and (with Marshall Brickman) best original screenplay for the 1977 film Annie Hall; for best original screenplay for the 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters; and for best original screenplay for the 2011 romantic comedy Midnight In Paris.