This Day In History: December 23

Changing the day will navigate the page to that given day in history. You can navigate days by using left and right arrows

On December 23, 1997, Woody Allen, the 62-year-old Academy Award-winning writer-director of such movies as Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters, marries 27-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his former partner Mia Farrow, in a small ceremony in Venice, Italy. When news of the couple’s relationship was first publicly revealed in the media in 1992, it sparked a major scandal.

Woody Allen, who was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York, began his career as a comedy writer, stand-up comic and playwright. Allen followed his first feature screenplay, for 1965’s What’s New Pussycat?, with his directorial debut, What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, released the next year. He went on to helm such films as Take the Money and Run (1969) and Sleeper (1973), in which he co-starred with Diane Keaton, before co-writing and directing his first major hit, 1977’s Annie Hall. The film, which featured Allen as the neurotic comedian Alvy Singer and Keaton as his kooky love interest, won four Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Keaton).

Allen went on to earn Best Director and Best Screenplay Oscar nominations for 1978’s Interiors and a Best Original Screenplay nod for 1979’s Manhattan, in which he played a divorced comedy writer involved with a 17-year-old student (Mariel Hemingway). Some filmgoers later found parallels between the film and Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn.

During the 1980s, Allen’s films included Broadway Danny Rose (1984), which received Best Director and Best Screenplay Oscar nominations; The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), which also garnered a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination; Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), which won gold statues for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Michael Caine) and Best Actress (Dianne Wiest); and Crimes and Misdemeanors, which also earned Best Screenplay and Best Director Oscar nominations. In the 1990s, the prolific Allen collected Best Screenplay Oscar nominations for Alice (1990), Husbands and Wives (1992), Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Mighty Aphrodite (1995) and Deconstructing Harry (1997). Among Allen’s more recent films are 2005’s Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Midnight in Paris (2011), Blue Jasmine (2013) and Wonder Wheel (2017). 

Off screen, Allen has been romantically linked to a series of actresses who have appeared in his films, including Louise Lasser, to whom he was married in the late 1960s, and Diane Keaton. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Allen was involved with Mia Farrow, with whom he adopted two children and had one biological child. Before her involvement with Allen, Farrow—whose movie credits include Rosemary’s Baby, The Great Gatsby and Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters—was married to Frank Sinatra (1966-1968) and the conductor Andre Previn (1970-1979), with whom she had three biological children and three adopted children, including Soon-Yi Previn. Farrow and Allen’s relationship broke up after she discovered his involvement with Previn. The actress and director then became involved in a highly publicized child-custody battle during which Farrow accused Allen of abusing their young daughter, Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow. Although Allen was cleared of the charges, the allegations resurfaced in 2018, in the wake of #MeToo.