While his Academy Award-winning directing and constantly turbulent public life may have obscured it, Woody Allen came to prominence in the early 1960s as one of the most recognizable standup comics of the day. His onstage character a nascent version of the nebbish he would later carve into an icon in dozens of films spanning from the 1960s through '90s, Allen weaved history, philosophy, and religion into an act both mocking and reverent. The cerebral college dropout was a regular on television, whether horsing around on the TONIGHT SHOW or debating William F. Buckley over the existence of God. When directing, Allen was notorious for shunning for his soundtracks most music released past 1950. By the late 1980s, the notoriously jazz-loving celebrity's semi-secret gigs as clarinetist at an NYC club would become the stuff of minor legend.
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