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Woody Allen (born Allen Stewart Königsberg on December 1, 1935) is a three-time Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, actor, jazz musician, comedian, and playwright.
His large body of work and cerebral film style, mixing satire, wit and humor, have made him one of the most respected and prolific filmmakers in the modern era. Allen writes and directs his movies and has also acted in the majority of them. For inspiration, Allen draws heavily on literature, philosophy, psychology, Judaism, European cinema and New York City, where he was born and has lived his entire life.
Allen was born and raised in New York City to a Jewish family; his grandparents were Yiddish and German-speaking immigrants. His parents, Martin Königsberg (born on December 25, 1900 in New York; died on January 13, 2001) and Nettea Cherrie (born in 1908 in New York; died in January 2002), and his sister, Letty (born 1943), lived in Flatbush, Brooklyn; his parents were both born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His mother worked as a bookkeeper at her family's business. Allen spoke German during his early years and attended Hebrew school for eight years, and then went to Public School 99 and to Midwood High School. During that time, he lived in part on Avenue K, between East 14th and 15th Streets. Nicknamed "Red" because of his red hair, he impressed students with his extraordinary talent at card and magic tricks. Though in his films and his comedy persona he has often depicted himself as physically inept and socially unpopular, in fact Woody Allen was a popular student, and an adept baseball and basketball player.
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 "was in a gossip column. It read: 'Woody Allen says he ate at a restaurant that had O.P.S. prices-over people's salaries.'"
At sixteen, he started writing for stars like Sid Caesar and began calling himself Woody Allen, which would remain his moniker (although it's unclear if Allen ever legally adopted the stage name). He was a gifted comedian from an early age and would later joke that when he was young he was often sent to inter-faith summer camps, where he "was savagely beaten by children of all races and creeds".
After high school, he went to New York University where he studied communication and film, but, never committed as a student, he was thrown off his course due to lack of punctuality and commitment. He later briefly attended City College of New York.
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