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A representative for Mia Farrow and Ronan Farrow says the family has no comment on Apropos of Nothing, Woody Allen’s new autobiography, but that a statement tweeted by Ronan’s sister Dylan Farrow in 2018 “still stands.”
That statement reads, “We love and stand by our mom, who has always been a caring and giving parent. None of us ever witnessed anything other than compassionate treatment in our home, which is why the courts granted sole custody to our mother of all her children. We reject any effort to deflect from Dylan’s allegation by trying to vilify our mom.”
The statement is signed by Dylan’s siblings Matthew Previn, Sascha Previn, Fletcher Previn, Daisy Previn, Ronan Farrow, Isaiah Farrow and Quincy Farrow.
The gloves are off in Apropos, which was shelved shortly before its release by Hachette Book Group after a staff walkout, only to hit virtual store shelves on Monday after Arcade Publishing chose to release it instead.
Among the allegations made by the controversial Annie Hall filmmaker — whom Dylan insists molested her at age 7 in an attic, claims Allen has repeatedly denied — are that her mother planted the story in her child’s brain after repeatedly singing a song called “Daddy in the Attic” and that Ronan, a Pulitzer Prize-winner for his New Yorker reporting on Harvey Weinstein, was subjected by his mother to painful leg-lengthening operations, allegedly telling him, “You need to be tall to have a career in politics.”
The book — already sold out on Amazon — is being billed by its publisher as “a candid and comprehensive personal account by Woody Allen of his life, ranging from his childhood in Brooklyn through his acclaimed career in film, theater, television, print and stand-up comedy, as well as exploring his relationships with family and friends.”
Based on a review copy of the book obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, that “exploration” is closer to an excoriation — both of Mia, whom he paints as a twisted and vindictive mother, and their media-darling son, who successfully led the charge to have Hachette, publisher of his own 2019 book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, abandon the release.
Allen writes that at first he was taken by the beautiful actress Farrow, who first reached out to him with a fan letter that concluded, “Quite simply, I love you.” Their relationship began a few years later in 1980, when Allen was 45 and Farrow was 35. He says it wasn’t long before that he began to detect that her large family — she would eventually mother 15 children, both adopted and biological — was “rife with ominous behavior.”
Farrow played favorites with her children, Allen writes, demonstrating an “unnatural closeness” to Fletcher Previn, another son, whom she would bring along with her on outings and trips, to the exclusion of all others. His sister, Soon-Yi Previn, did not curry nearly that kind of favor with her mother, whom Allen accuses of abuse and neglect. (Allen has previously written: “When Soon-Yi was young, Mia once threw a large porcelain centerpiece at her head. Luckily it missed, but the shattered pieces hit her legs. Years later, Mia beat her with a telephone receiver.”)
In 1992, Mia discovered that Woody and Soon-Yi were having an affair when she stumbled upon naked photos of the two. Soon-Yi was 21, while Woody was 56. (The alleged molestation of Dylan would have taken place eight months after that.) They married in 1997 and raised two children together on the Upper West Side. Allen dedicates the book to his wife, writing: “For Soon-Yi, the best. I had her eating out of my hand and then I noticed my arm was missing.”
According to Allen, Farrow’s beneficence did not extend to all potential adoptees. “She had once flown to Texas with Soon-Yi to adopt a Mexican infant but sent him back after a few days in her New York apartment for reasons known only to her,” he writes. “I also recall her adopting a little spina bifida boy who lived in the apartment for several weeks, but her son Fletcher found him annoying, so he was sent back.”
Farrow was prone to changing her children’s names months and even years after their birth, according to Allen. So Dylan, adopted in 1985, was at various points called Eliza and Malone, while Ronan, the biological son of Allen and Farrow born in 1987, was initially Satchel — named for Satchel Paige, a hero of Allen’s — then Harmon, Seamus and finally Ronan.
Regarding long-standing rumors, fueled in part by Farrow herself, that Ronan is actually the son of Frank Sinatra, Allen writes, “I think he’s mine, though I’ll never really know. … She may have still been sleeping with Frank, as she hinted, and may have had any number of outside affairs, for all I know. As I said, we lived apart.”
Addressing the alleged molestation — in which Dylan described in 2018 being “taken to a small attic crawl space in my mother’s country house in Connecticut by my father. He instructed me to lay down on my stomach and play with my brother’s toy train that was set up. And he sat behind me in the doorway, and as I played with the toy train, I was sexually assaulted” — Allen says the scene played out much differently. It began with Farrow, aware of Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi, telling everyone in the household to keep an eye on the predatory Allen, whom she felt had an unhealthy interest in her younger daughter.
“While Mia had gone shopping, after explaining to everyone that I had to be watched carefully, all the kids and the babysitters were in the den watching TV, a room full of people. There were no seats for me, so I sat on the floor and might have leaned my head back on the sofa on Dylan’s lap for a moment. I certainly didn’t do anything improper to her. I was in a room full of people watching TV mid-afternoon. Alison, the nervous babysitter for Mia’s friend’s children — prompted by Mia to be hyper-vigilant — reported to her employer, Casey, that at one point I had my head on Dylan’s lap.”
That would “somehow metamorphosize into my molesting her in the attic,” Allen writes. The story, he postulates, was planted in Dylan’s mind by her mother, done in the form of a song. Years earlier, he fielded a warning call out of the blue from Dory Previn, ex-wife of conductor Andre Previn, to whom Farrow was married from 1970 to 1979.
“Dory, whom I’d never met or spoken a word to, contacted me and told me the rumors were true and how deceitful Mia had been, and I must beware of her,” Allen writes. “She alerted me also to a song she’d written, the lyric of which referred to some encounter that went on between a little girl and her father in the attic. The song is ‘Daddy in the Attic,’ and the lyrics went: ‘And he’ll play/His clarinet/When I despair/With my Daddy in the attic.'”
As for Ronan, the one biological child they shared (they adopted Dylan and Moses together), Allen writes, “From his birth, Mia expropriated Satchel. She took him into her bedroom, her bed, and insisted on breast-feeding him. She kept telling me she intended to do it for years, and that anthropological studies have shown positive results from tribes where breast-feeding goes on much longer than on the Upper West Side.” He says babysitters would later report to him of “seeing Mia sometimes sleeping in the nude with Satchel (now Ronan) a number of times till he was eleven years old.”
After Farrow successfully took Allen to court to prevent him from accessing their children, Allen says he did everything he could to communicate with his daughter. “When she got a little older and I imagined she would realize how she was being used, I wrote her, just sweet, affectionate, brief letters asking how she was doing,” he says. “The letters were all intercepted by Ronan and I received curt, evasive answers that began, ‘I told Dylan about your letter and she is not interested.’”
Allen also quotes Moses regarding one of the stranger allegations made in the book: That Farrow forced Ronan to undergo painful operations to lengthen his legs just to make him taller.
“After Ronan finished law school, Mia had him undergo cosmetic surgery to extend his legs and gain a few inches in height,” Moses is quoted as saying in the book. “I told her I couldn’t imagine putting someone through the ordeal for cosmetic reasons. My mother’s response was simple, ‘You need to be tall to have a career in politics.’”
A 2018 THR cover story about Ronan reported that “during a trip to Sudan, Ronan contracted a bone infection in his leg and would spend much of the next four years in a wheelchair and on crutches as he endured multiple operations.”
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