American motion-picture director, screenwriter, actor, and author, best known for his bittersweet comic films containing elements of parody, slapstick, and the absurd. He is also known as a sympathetic director for women, writing strong and well-defined characters for them. Much of Allen's comic material derives from his urban Jewish middle-class background. Intending to be a playwright, Allen began writing stand-up comedy monologues while still in high school. His introduction to show business came a few years later when he was hired to write material for such television comedians as Sid Caesar and Art Carney. Soon Allen began writing and directing plays and films, often also acting in the latter. He appeared in and wrote the screenplay for WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT? (1965), and his first play, DON’T DRINK THE WATER, appeared on Broadway in 1966. He also starred in the film version (1972) of his successful Broadway play PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM (1969) and in the motion picture THE FRONT (1976).