Heywood "Woody" Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg; December 1, 1935) is an American director, writer, actor, and comedian whose career spans more than six decades. He began his career as a comedy writer in the 1950s, writing jokes and scripts for television and publishing several books of short humor pieces. In the early 1960s, he performed as a stand-up comedian, emphasizing monologues rather than traditional jokes, where he developed the persona of an insecure, intellectual, fretful nebbish, which he maintains is quite different from his real-life personality. In 2004 Comedy Central ranked Allen fourth on a list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians, while a UK survey ranked Allen the third-greatest comedian.By the mid-1960s Allen was writing and directing films, first specializing in slapstick comedies before moving into dramatic material influenced by European art cinema during the 1970s, and alternating between comedies and dramas to the present. He is often identified as part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmakers of the mid-1960s to late 1970s. Allen often stars in his films, typically in the persona he developed as a standup. Some of the best-known of his over 50 films are Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), and Midnight in Paris (2011). In 2007 he said Stardust Memories (1980), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), and Match Point (2005) were his best films. Critic Roger Ebert described Allen as "a treasure of the cinema".Allen has received many accolades and honors. He has won four Academy Awards: three for Best Original Screenplay and one for Best Director. He also garnered nine British Academy Film Awards. His screenplay for Annie Hall was named the funniest screenplay by the Writers Guild of America in its list of the "101 Funniest Screenplays". In 2011 PBS televised the film biography Woody Allen: A Documentary on its series American Masters.
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It has become a common feeling, I believe, as we have watched our heroes falling over the years, that our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope. Many who believe this choose to withhold their offerings out of shame. This is the tragedy of the world. For we can do nothing substantial toward changing our course on the planet, a destructive one, without rousing ourselves, individual by individual, and bringing our small, imperfect stones to the pile.