Born Allan Konigsberg on Dec. 1, 1935, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Allen was selling one-line jokes to gossip columns at the tender age of 15. After a successful career as a stand-up comedian, Allen began directing, writing and often starring in movies. What's New, Pussycat? (1965) marked Allen's movie-writing debut, and a year later he directed the spoof What's Up, Tiger Lily?
For years, Allen has managed to release one film annually, oscillating between stark dramas and brainy comedies chock-full of hilarious wordplay and incisive characterizations.