They were a quirky couple for sure. Woody Allen: the neurotic filmmaker with a penchant for psychoanalysis. Mia Farrow: the soft-spoken movie star focused on humanitarian causes. He had no kids. She had six. Despite being in a committed relationship with each other for more than 12 years, having three children together, and worked together non-stop as Allen put Farrow in more than a dozen of his films, they never married and never even lived together. “The two of us have so little in common that is always amazes us. We’re always marveling on why we threw in our lot together and stayed together as long as we have,” Allen said while they were together. The whole thing seemed charming, until, in 1992, it turned into something worlds away from charming. Farrow found nude pictures of her daughter Soon-Yi Previn (whom she adopted at the age of 8 from Korea with former husband Andre Previn) in Allen’s apartment and discovered Allen, then 56, had been having a sexual relationship with 21-year-old Soon-Yi. As the two bitterly broke up and battled over custody, Farrow also accused Allen of sexually abusing their then-7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan. What would play out in the media would shock the world and go down in history as one of the biggest celebrity scandals of all time. Twenty years after the news broke in August 1992, here’s a look back at who was involved in the salacious story, and what their lives look like today.
The odds were against a relationship between a 56-year-old man and the 21-year-old daughter of his longtime girlfriend surviving. But lo and behold, Woody and Soon-Yi are still together after two decades. Married in 1997 in Venice, Italy, they went on to adopt two children of their own, Bechet, 13, and 12-year-old Manzie, whom the couple named after jazz musicians in honor of Allen’s love of the genre. Allen has continued to make feature films including the recent “Midnight in Paris,” for which he won a Golden Globe for best original screenplay and his latest, “To Rome With Love,” in which he co-stars. The avid clarinet player has also kept up a longstanding weekly gig with his jazz band in New York City. As for his relationship with Soon-Yi, he insists that he was not, in fact, a father figure to her. “I am not Soon-Yi’s father or stepfather … I was not a father to her adopted kids in any sense of the word,” he said in a 1992 Time magazine interview. “The only thing unusual is that she’s Mia’s daughter. But she’s an adopted daughter and a grown woman. I could have met her at a party or something.”
Allen, now 76, says he’s never understood the public’s fascination with his relationship with Soon-Yi, now 41. “What was the scandal? I fell in love with this girl, married her. We have been married for almost 15 years now,” he told Reuters last year. That juicy scandal, however, cost him relationships with all three of his children with Farrow. Though, in a 2005 Vanity Fair article he says he feels “terrible” about not seeing them and that he spent “millions” in court trying to get some custody of biological son Satchel, adopted son Moses, and adopted daughter Dylan, whom he was accused of molesting. “I never did anything. I would never molest a child,” he said at a hearing. The abuse charges were dropped, but Farrow won full custody of the children.
The same year her daughter married her former lover, Farrow wrote her memoir titled What Falls Away and has continued to act (though, not, of course in any of Allen’s films, despite the fact that her ex has claimed he wanted to cast her in 1995’s “Mighty Aphrodite”). But the actress focused on motherhood over movies, adopting another six children after her split with Allen, making her at one point, a mom of 15. Over the last 20 years, Farrow, now 67, has become perhaps best known for her charitable work, serving as a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador and making trips to various African nations to work on human rights issues and fight against polio (a disease she battled as a child). She has given special focus to Darfur, and thanks in part to her work there she was named to the Time 100 list of influential people in 2008. “If you have a baby drowning in a lake, do you have a moral obligation to pull the baby out? Well, almost everybody would say yes. But what if the lake is a mile away? What if it’s a continent away? I think helplessness is just not an option,” she said in Esquire in 2006.
And while Allen has admitted he doesn’t know what Twitter is, Farrow is, not surprisingly, the opposite, using the social media app to rally support for her causes and proudly post pictures of everything from her veggie garden at her Connecticut farmhouse to her many children and grandchildren. Sadly, two of her kids have died over the last two decades, daughter Tam Farrow in 2000 at age 19 of heart problems, and daughter Lark Previn in 2008 at age 35 of an undisclosed illness. And then, of course, there is one child she lost in a very different way. “She was on the streets in Korea when she was captured and brought to the state orphanage,” Farrow recalled of daughter Soon-Yi in a 2006 interview with The Observer. “And in a way I can see from her perspective — a very limited perspective — that she’s improved her situation. She’s got the penthouse, and the seat at Elaine’s, or — whatever I had, she has. For a little orphan kid from Korea … Perhaps she’s not to be blamed.”
The daughter at the center of the custody trial (with Farrow taking the stand to describe the alleged abuse she claimed Dylan revealed to her) managed to escape the spotlight later in life, changing her name first to Eliza and then to Malone. According to Farrow’s own Twitter page, Malone, now a 27-year-old, married last year.
Now 34, Moses hasn’t spoken publicly about his family much in recent years, but previously made clear his feelings for Allen during a 1993 custody hearing. “You have done a horrible, unforgivable, needy, ugly, stupid thing,” the then-15-year-old wrote in a letter that was read to the court. “I hope you get so humiliated you commit suicide.” Dylan made the decision not to see Allen again, telling the Daily News during the trial: “He’s not a friend, not a father. If he gets custody of Dylan and Satchel, I’m going to do anything to stop him from getting custody of me.”
Just 4 years old when the scandal broke, Farrow and Allen’s only biological child would make any parent proud. The child prodigy — who changed his first name to Ronan, which had been his middle name — began attending college at age 11, was admitted to Yale Law School at age 16,and is a Rhodes Scholar. He’s also followed in his mother’s footsteps when it comes to trying to help others. He served as a UNICEF spokesperson for several years, has worked as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues and the director of the State Department’s Office of Global Youth Issues, and continues to advocate for Darfur refugees. He’s set to begin studying at Oxford University in the fall. And the 24-year-old recently proved he’s got a sense of humor about his family’s very public and very unusual history, tweeting in June: “Happy father’s day — or as they call it in my family, happy brother-in-law’s day.” Mom Mia quickly retweeted the quip.