Woody Allen Is Not an Angel

Woody Allen is not an angel. As his third and current biographer, I can attest to it. That does not mean he is a pedophile who molested his and Mia Farrow's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, as a child.
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A well-known writer emailed me when I started my biography of Woody Allen: "Tell! Tell!" She added, "I was shocked! Shocked!" I asked her what she was shocked about. She shared with me the explosive info that she had sat next to Woody's table at Elaine's and that she thought that he and two friends were exchanging notes about threesomes. I assured her I'd heard far worse among my own writer friends over a lifetime. "Writers are not pussycats," I wrote her, "at least none of the hundreds I've known."

Woody Allen is not an angel. As his third and current biographer, I can attest to it. That does not mean he is a pedophile who molested his and Mia Farrow's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, as a child.

Twenty-three years after the alleged events, Mia Farrow, aided by her children Dylan and Ronan, continues to wage a campaign against him. They insist that Woody did molest his seven-year-old daughter and that in spite of this, the "old school" media is colluding in protecting him, that major stars continue to work with him, and that festivals like Cannes continue to honor him. The onslaught now seems to occur when there is a major cultural event that Allen is participating in. Another family member, Moses Farrow, Woody and Mia's adopted son, now a family therapist, maintains that Woody is innocent of all charges and that he was a loving father. Moses now has a close relationship with him after years of estrangement. He told People, "Of course Woody did not molest my sister....I don't know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was [a] very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible."

I received the following response to an interview I requested with Moses from attorney Eric J. Broder on January 12, 2015: "I spoke to Moses and he advised me that he does not want to be interviewed at this time and would only say that a terrible and dishonest thing was done to his father. He further explained that he knows this to be true because he was there."

And of course there are a few other facts to dispose of: Woody was never convicted -- not
even charged criminally -- with molesting Dylan Farrow as a child. He was only accused by Mia. After six months of investigation, which included medical examinations, Yale-New Haven Hospital issued its report on March 17, 1993: "Child Sexual Abuse Clinic Evaluation of Dylan Farrow." It was compiled by Dr. John Leventhal, a pediatrician and director of the hospital's prestigious Child Sexual Abuse Clinic, and two clinical social workers trained to detect child sexual abuse. Dr. Leventhal had interviewed Dylan nine times and had met with Allen and Farrow. The interviews were exhaustive, and forensic tests were conducted. Allen had to contribute samples of hair from every part of his body.The report completely exonerated Allen of all charges and recommended that Woody and Dylan be reunited quickly. Referring to Farrow's "very disturbed relationship" with Dylan and Satchel (now Ronan), it said it was "absolutely critical" for Mia Farrow to undertake "intensive psychotherapy to address these relationships." Linda Fairstein, a former prosecutor who headed the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office from 1976 to 2002, also refuted the charges against Allen. "Dylan may really believe that Woody abused her," she told me in 2015. "I just don't think he did, and I don't think there's any evidence that he did."

But no, he is not an angel. By planting the nude pictures of Soon-Yi where Mia would be certain to find them, he squashed her like a bug and never looked back. The master of compartmentalization, Woody can be a somewhat chilly soul. His warmth is in his films. As his mother said in "Wild Man Blues," she wished he were "a warmer person."

Woody's childhood pal, Dr. Jerry Epstein, a psychiatrist, told me that with Woody, it was "Me real, you shadow." He added, "There's no feeling of guilt in him, nor of conscience. It's always your fault and it's always your responsibility." It was Epstein who got Woody into psychoanalysis at the age of 20. "I used to later meet Lou Lynd, another psychoanalyst I sent Woody to, on the street, and he would schmooze. We would commonly get around to talking about Woody. Lynd said to me, 'Woody did so well with me. But the one thing I missed -- I'm taking responsibility for it -- I didn't seek to socialize him.'"

Allen had a strained relationship with his strict and punishing mother -- who, he has said, hit him every day. Nettie Konigsberg was unintentionally funny, never knowing what the joke was. She cracked Woody up every day. Another boyhood friend, Elliott Mills, recalled for me that Woody's mother "was a hysteric, and Woody drove her to greater heights of hysteria. The angrier she got, the funnier she got. Woody would tell her that she looked like Groucho Marx, and she was both flustered and flattered. `Well, so what?' she said. `He's a handsome man!' Woody said, `But Ma, you're a woman.' We roared, but she did not see what was so funny. He drove her nuts. He knew what set her off. So he would do it."

I think Woody's deliberate coolness may have been influenced by his witnessing his mother's vulnerability due to her lack of control of her emotions. In "Deconstructing Harry," Woody plays Harry Block, who drives his psychiatrist wife to rage and frenzy by patiently explaining that he is having an affair with her female patient because he doesn't meet women anywhere else. He says, "I was merely explaining why my choice of necessity is confined to your practice." Harry baits and incites his wife while pretending that he does not understand his wife's fury. Allen, the writer, of course, has a total awareness of Harry's seeming unawareness. He keeps it up: "I cannot understand why the most sophisticated of women can't tell the difference between a meaningless, hot, passionate sexual affair and a nice, solid, tranquil routine marriage."

He taunted his first wife, Harlene Rosen for many years of his adulthood, making fun of her in his nightclub act and on television. He called her "Quasimodo." He held up a picture of a house with her in front of it and said she was the one who had shingles. He said that on her birthday he gave her an electric chair, pretending it was a hair dryer

And most famously of all, there is Mia and her discovery of the nude pictures of Soon-Yi. I would call Woody's behavior his ultimate taunt, his characteristic fear of confrontation, and I would call it unconscionable. But conflating that behavior with the molestation of his daughter, barring any facts or past patterns of similar conduct, seems to me to be a huge leap.

And I wonder if Mia really made it herself. According to the New York Times, Dr. Susan Coates, the clinical psychologist who treated Satchel from 1990 to 1992 and often met with Mia and Woody, testified at a custody hearing on March 29, 1993, that she was taken aback by a query by Mia. After having charged Woody with these heinous acts, Mia had asked Dr. Coates: "Do you think I should marry him?"

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