Woody Allen began an ‘affair’ with a 16-year-old in 1976, when he was 41 years old

Embed from Getty Images

When Woody Allen was 41 years old, he began an eight-year affair with a 16-year-old named Babi Christina Englehardt. Babi Christina has told her story for the first time to The Hollywood Reporter – you can read the piece here. True story: I’m hopped up on cold medicine and I feel such a bizarre mixture of nausea, disgust and apathy with this story. I know I should be outraged, and maybe I am, but Babi Christina does not come across well in this interview, and it’s skewing any sympathy I would have had for her. She’s 58 years old now, and a mother of two daughters, and she spends the first chunk of her interview trying to explain how she seduced Woody Allen because she was so cool and different and special. Lady, he slept with you because you were 16 and that got him off.

Sixteen, emerald-eyed, blond, an aspiring model with a confident streak and a painful past: Babi Christina Engelhardt had just caught Woody Allen’s gaze at legendary New York City power restaurant Elaine’s. It was October 1976, and when Engelhardt returned from the ladies’ room, she dropped a note on his table with her phone number. It brazenly read: “Since you’ve signed enough autographs, here’s mine!”

Soon, Allen rang, inviting her to his Fifth Avenue penthouse. The already-famous 41-year-old director, still hot off Sleeper and who’d release Annie Hall the following spring, never asked her age. But she told him she was still in high school, living with her family in rural New Jersey as she pursued her modeling ambitions in Manhattan. Within weeks, they’d become physically intimate at his place. She wouldn’t turn 17, legal in New York, until that December.

The pair embarked on, by her account, a clandestine romance of eight years, the claustrophobic, controlling and yet dreamy dimensions of which she’s still processing more than four decades later. For her, the recent re-examination of gender power dynamics initiated by the #MeToo movement (and Allen’s personal scandals, including a claim of sexual abuse by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow) has turned what had been a melancholic if still sweet memory into something much more uncomfortable. Like others among her generation — she just turned 59 on Dec. 4 — Engelhardt is resistant to attempts to have the life she led then be judged by what she considers today’s newly established norms. “It’s almost as if I’m now expected to trash him,” she says.

Time, though, has transfigured what she’s long viewed as a secret, unspoken monument to their then-still-ongoing relationship: 1979’s Manhattan, in which 17-year-old Tracy (Oscar-nominated Mariel Hemingway) enthusiastically beds Allen’s 42-year-old character Isaac “Ike” Davis. The film has always “reminded me why I thought he was so interesting — his wit is magnetic,” Engelhardt says. “It was why I liked him and why I’m still impressed with him as an artist. How he played with characters in his movies, and how he played with me.”

Even with hindsight, though, she’s unwilling to indict Allen, who declined to comment for this story. “What made me speak is I thought I could provide a perspective,” she offers. “I’m not attacking Woody,” she says. “This is not ‘bring down this man.’ I’m talking about my love story. This made me who I am. I have no regrets.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

I suppose it’s just a sad story, because what this is really about is how an exploitative sexual encounter during your formative teenage years can warp your perspective throughout your entire adult life. It’s bizarre to me that Babi Christina hasn’t done the work in therapy, and that she doesn’t seem to understand that her story isn’t a “love story.” Anyway, in case you needed a reminder – Woody Allen is gross. He’s always been gross. He always liked underage girls. He should be in jail.

Embed from Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Getty.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

67 Responses to “Woody Allen began an ‘affair’ with a 16-year-old in 1976, when he was 41 years old”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Steff says:

    Is it me or was the Hollywood crowd in the 70s all borderline or full on criminals?

    • Darla says:

      It’s not you, but I doubt it’s changed.

    • jessamine says:

      Not just you and not just the Hollywood crowd … I think it’s important to remember that “norms” *were* different “back then” and that criminal disgustingness is why feminism and Me Too are so freakin’ important.

      • Esmom says:

        Preach. I do think some things have changed for the better but we have quite a ways to go.

      • jan90067 says:


        This line: “Engelhardt is resistant to attempts to have the life she led then be judged by what she considers today’s newly established norms”. JUST NO!!! It was NEVER “the norm” or “acceptable” for grown-assed men to bed under-aged girls! I don’t care HOW much the girl “wants” it! It’s up to the ADULT to say NOPE!

        Ever since the story about Dylan hit the papers, I have not been able to stand this creep. I used to be *such* a HUGE fan of his movies; since then, I can’t watch one, even when it’s “free” (tv; screeners, etc). He is just repulsive!

        I only hope that he never molested the two girls he and HIS daughter-wife adopted.

      • Erinn says:

        Yes, jan90067 !

        And it’s not newly established norms if it was still statutory WHEN it happened.

    • Mia4s says:

      Yeah to be honest for anyone who knows anything about the entertainment business in the 70s….or the 70s in general…the response to this story is basically….Duh?
      Sorry but it’s true!

      I felt like this story was written like I was supposed to be surprised. I can’t imagine why. I mean, Allen obviously but wow do I have some bad news about David Bowie and more than a few others in the 1970s. Probably 99% of the art we love from that era is tainted. It would drive us all crazy to do anything but try to do and demand better going forward. Dear God I hope we are getting better.

      • Lala11_7 says:

        We’re not

      • Bettyrose says:

        Thing thing is that Allen’s portrayal of women is and has always bern heavily problematic. Adult, self aware women are an inconvenience, a nuisance even in his work, while sweet young malleable things are heralded as a man’s salvation. So Allen’s personal life is only part of the gross equation.

    • Milla says:

      Seems like the 70s were blurry. This wouldn’t be so traumatic if it wasn’t him. We know what he did, much worse than a relationship with 16y.o. did he ever stop with this behavior? Doubtful. I mean he still married a girl who was his daughter in a way.

    • Darla says:

      Not just the 70s. The following starlets were all at some point in relationships that in 2018 would be labeled as pedophilia:

      Natalie Wood
      Tuesday Weld
      Bo Derek
      Sophia Loren
      Nastassja Kinski

      Those are just off the top of my head. I know they all dated guys who were at least 40, when they were under 17.

  2. Yawn says:

    You didn’t mention that this woman claims that Mia Farrow also participated in threesomes with them… It’s all very gross…

    • Kaiser says:

      I didn’t read the full article, honestly, I was so disgusted.

      • Lala11_7 says:

        @Mia4s…grown folks can be groomed…it’s not only about age…it’s about the abandonment of your personal power and giving it to someone else…It looks like you had to submit to Woody…to be involved with him…no matter what the age…so no wonder this creature acted like he could do ANYTHING he wanted and get away with it…everyone in his personal life and professional life laid the infrastructure for him to get away with that mess….

        He reminds me of Trump…..

    • Agenbiter says:

      By then Christina was 20, so attempts to smear Farrow as a pedophile are gross. Didn’t Christina say Mia was being ‘groomed’ by Allen and she felt sorry for her? (I didn’t read it either)

      • Chaine says:

        Yes, she did say something to that effect. She has a more realistic perspective on Farrow and Allen’s relationship then she does on her own relationship with him.

      • Lizzie says:

        yes. by the time mia farrow was involved she was of age and it was a consensual positive experience. her opinion was that woody was being puppet master to mia.

      • Bettyrose says:

        Mia had been in relationships with powerful men since her teens. Was she really emotionally in her 30s? I agree that if she submitted to Allen’s manipulations it was adult consent, but it’s still a little icky from the standpoint that Allen probably wanted/needed to control Mia.

      • Jeanette says:

        @Chaine, but isn’ that how it always is? You can see much better on the outside looking in?

    • Aoife says:

      I feel nauseous.

    • Jegede says:

      @Yawn –

      Yeah social media has been calling out Mia Farrow as well. Big time.

      I just can’t imagine what it must have been like been a child in that family.😶😔

    • Esmom says:

      Oh, yuck. And creepily, I got a Mia Farrow vibe from the photo of this woman.

      • Bella Bella says:

        If you read the article, which I happened to do last night, she looked nothing like Farrow when this all went down. It’s a sad story. The woman was previously raped by a boyfriend and abused by a family member, and then she was with Woody. She talks about how long it took before she realized she was just a plaything to him. She actually thought she meant something. I think she takes responsibility for her part in initiating the relationship and staying with it past a comfort point. But at least she finally got wise enough to stop. A bizarre and creepy window into Woody Allen’s personality is a letter he sends her after it is over. It sounds like they barely know each other. And he wants to “introduce” her to his wife, when they’ve already had multiple threesomes together. That guy is one sick puppy.

      • Bella Bella says:

        Just want to amend my comment and say that I just realized the “wife” Woody Allen is referring to in his letter is Soon-Yi. So, yuck. He wants to do it all over again?

    • Megan says:

      Woody Allen is a truly horrible person. He has always been a horrible person. He will always be a horrible person. Regardless of the agency the women in his life did or did not have, he was deliberately controlling and manipulative to satisfy his perverse needs.

  3. BaronSamedi says:

    I’m of two minds on this. Woody Allen is obviously trash and has always been trash.

    But I also do not want to presume to tell another woman how to process her own experiences. Just like with Jennifer Lawrence yesterday I have to believe her when she says that she has no regrets. Sure, an experience like this CAN be traumatic but if she honestly does not feel traumatized who are we to put this on her?

    • polionna says:

      Thank you! I completely agree that Woody Allen is a creep and ought to be locked up but I think it’s not fair and patronizing to dismiss her point of view as warped because of what happened.

    • otaku fairy says:

      It’s easier when it’s just a case of a teen dating an adult who’s only 3 or 4 years older (and barely an adult herself or himself) than a situation like this one. But I think you’re right- I’m not going to make that kind of judgment for the younger party. Woody Allen is a creep though. It’s not surprising at all to see a story like this come out about him, and there are probably more- possibly even grosser ones. At least this can silence the ‘Dylan is the only person who says he did something while she was a minor!’ crowd.

    • diana says:

      I have to agree with you. Although I’m disgusted to my core.

    • A says:

      I don’t think that someone saying they have no regrets necessarily means they’re not traumatized by it. It’s very clear through this woman’s words and actions, as well as the way she clearly understands how she was taken advantage of, that she has been traumatized by it. But I believe her when she says that she doesn’t regret what happened, because what happened has ultimately shaped her character and her outlook as an adult in a profound way. You can’t really ask yourself who you would have been if you hadn’t been abused in this way, because so much of how you perceive yourself is so intricately tied up with that experience.

      Also, you have to understand that she can only regret the situation if she had some responsibility for what happened. And she didn’t. She propositioned him, but he chose to accept the advances of a teenage girl. It’s not her fault–it’s his. So why should she regret anything?

  4. RBC says:

    One, I am not surprised. Two, just watch as more women come forward about relationships with Woody Allen when they were underage.

    • Nikki says:

      I wonder if his daughters will someday come out with a story. I’ve often been concerned for them.

      • CL says:

        Yes! I am anxiously awaiting their tell-all. I think I’ve only seen a few pictures of him with his daughters, but I remember the one Celebitchy ran, and it was creepy AF.

  5. Ariel says:

    In the article she’s asked if she’d feel comfortable if a rich, famous 40yo man invited one of her teen daughters to “see the world”. She said no.
    I wonder how many of allen’s teenage lovers/victims think they are *the one* who inspired that Mariel Hemingway character? Dozens probably.

    • heylee says:

      @Ariel your comment really cuts through it doesn’t it? What a position these men in power hold, to offer the promise of relevancy/significance to a young person who is so desperately seeking to be seen and understood. This makes me so sad.

    • Bella Bella says:

      The author of the article mentions another woman who also makes the claim of being the inspiration for the Mariel Hemingway character. This woman telling her story above says she guesses the character is a compilation of numerous women that Woody knew.

  6. Piper says:

    Someone mentioned this on my tl, I’ll repeat bc it rings true. I was 18 when Mia/Woody abuse scandal came to light. It was presented in a way as well as his movies previously as just a quirky nerd thing. He wasn’t perverted but artsy and misunderstood New Yorker. Mia was jealous clearly and he was the genius. When he was presented this way, all of my senses went up that told ME and probably lots of women that he was a sexual predator. He was the guy who made the hair on the back of your neck stand up when he got too close when you sensed danger, a deviant. And worse, everyone around him, in the industry and media tried to convince women differently. He was a rapist, sexual deviant then and he’s the same guy now, only difference is women feel slightly more empowered. But only slightly, like Babi who still feels the need to defend Woody and condone the victimization of her past.

  7. OriginalLala says:

    umm, gross?

    when I was in my late teens and then very early 20s I had a series of relationships with older men who were in positions of power over me. At the time I thought I was so mature and sexy to be “seducing” these inappropriate men. Looking back at it, I’m totally grossed out because the uneven power dynamics are so clear to me, now as a 30something, and if I am being totally honest, I do feel that I was taken advantage of

    • dee says:

      Same. I always thought I was just so mature and different when I was in my late teens and early 20s. Now that I’m 30, I’ve realized since I was just young, naive, and easy to manipulate.

      • OriginalLala says:

        I found it a difficult realization to accept and come to terms with…I was a naive sitting duck for them to prey on.

  8. Loretta says:

    He’s so disgusting and creepy.

  9. Lucy says:

    He’s disgusting. Article also mentions he was asking threesomes with her and Soon-Yi in 2000s and seemed to imply Woody Allen has a friendship with Jeffery Epstein **after** he was exposed as a paedo.

  10. Lala11_7 says:

    You know what else is gross? Babi’s parental figures….those pictures of her when she was teen?!?! MY GAWD!!! So…when did she first become sexualized like a grown ass woman? Was it 11….12…younger? In my lifetime…I have seen…little girls GROOMED to be sex toys…and that grooming done by the very people who are supposed to nurture and protect them…That WHOLE article was a travesty…I just kinda wanted to cry for the innocence that was…just…stolen…or traded for status…..but then…if I cry for her…I’d have to cry for so many others…and hell…I would NEVER stop crying…..

    And I want to THANK Babi…for saying…what I have been thinking…FOR DECADES regarding this nightmare…because that’s what this is…it’s a nightmare that is STILL playing out in public…where the monster got to win….and the victims…well…the victims continue to be victimized….

    “I felt sorry for Mia, I thought, ‘Didn’t Woody have enough extra, with or without her that the last thing he had to do was to go for something that was totally hers?’ “He had groomed Mia, trained her to put up with all of this. Now he had no barriers. It was total disrespect”


    • Bella Bella says:

      If you read the article, she was, sadly, sexually molested by an unnamed family member and raped by someone else already by the time of those pictures. That’s how she knew of herself — as a sexual object.

      • A says:

        And predators like Woody Allen specifically target women who are vulnerable in that way, which makes it even worse. I still remember Roy Moore–someone brought up how his wife was of the legal age when they got together, even though he was 14 years older than she was. But looking into it a little more, it turns out that his wife had been married once before to someone who had abused her, before she got married to Roy Moore.

        Men like this have a pattern. They go after people who have been hurt and manipulate them. They go after women who are vulnerable in some way, and they exploit them. It’s disgusting.

  11. Eleonor says:

    How shocking.
    Said no one.

  12. Veronica S. says:

    Why this shocks anyone, I don’t know. The man groomed and married his stepdaughter. We’ve known he’s been a sexual predator for years.

  13. lucy2 says:

    Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

  14. Tiffany says:

    Didn’t this woman use to or still does work for Epstein. Something tells me she will be talking again…..in court.

  15. Nikki says:

    why am I not surprised?

  16. prissa says:

    “… what this is really about is how an exploitative sexual encounter during your formative teenage years can warp your perspective throughout your entire adult life.”

    THIS COMMENT ALL DAY LONG!!!!! A young adult (teen), does not have the ability to analyze or even comprehend the complex mechanisms of sexual relationships. The body and brain is still growing for God’s sake. I absolutely abhor when people act like age is “nothing but a number”. It’s not. I know from experience (I was 15, my daughter’s father was 23). I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into. I will never understand why Woody Allen is still celebrated. He should be shunned as the gross predator he really is.

    Absolutely disgusting!!!

  17. Marjorie says:

    We did these things back then, I’m her age and also from NJ. The city was just a bus/train ride away, the drinking age was 18 and they never checked IDs. You could meet people (men) if you wanted to. Dare I say it was fun?

    In Christina’s case, she says in the article that she was raped sevetal times in her early teens. She is really clear on what her state of mind was back when she met Woody Allen, and how long it took her to understand what the relationship was really about. I’m pretty amazed at how generous she is to him, she doesn’t really slam him.

    • A says:

      It’s not uncommon for rape victims to put their sense of self-worth together based on how attractive (or unattractive) they are to men. It’s effed up, but it happens.

      I imagine she’s being charitable towards Woody Allen because she still hasn’t sorted out the emotional repercussions of her relationship with him. She was with this man from the age of 16 to 24. Those are some crucial, formative years for most people. And she spent them with someone who was emotionally abuse and incredibly predatory. Her sense of self as a person was shaped by the relationship she had with this man. How do you even begin to work through that?

  18. minx says:

    Ugh, he is so revolting.

  19. BL says:

    He is a total PEDO!!!!

  20. southernbelle824 says:

    I’m amazed no one has called out Jerry Seinfeld and his relationship with Shoshanna in the 90s.

    • Jerusha says:

      I’m amazed nobody talks about how his relationship with Jessica started out like an episode of Seinfeld. She had just returned from her honeymoon. Met Jerry at the gym. Boom, honeymoon over, hubby gone:

    • Sam says:

      Agreed. Janis Ian singing, “Seinfeld’s Girl is 17” on the Stern show was about as far as that went.

  21. JRenee says:

    There are so many levels of disgusting behavior here. This guy should have been jailed years ago. He’s been successfully grooming girls/women for decades. Was her story known b4, why now?
    Mia has been a mess, bit I believe you can be an adult and gullible enough to be groomed into these activities. There are more participants/victims out there who have not told their stories. This is so Stockholm syndrome ish..

  22. Sam says:

    Why does anyone give this grotesque, bespectacled Igor the time of day, let alone a standing ovation? Diane Keaton even said he had a ‘great body’. UGH.

  23. mela says:

    How is he NOT cancelled? He needs to move to a deserted island and disappear.

    I’m disgusted by people who knowingly continue to work with and support a known abuser. This is NOT okay and people really need to stop making excuses for continuing to work with this guy.

    If you knowingly work with or associate with an abuser (of any kind), you are part of the problem!!!

  24. A says:

    A sixteen year old might have the agency to proposition an adult, but the adult is responsible for turning them down. It’s what we owe to each other as human beings who live in a civilized society. We don’t purposefully encourage and engage with someone else’s poor decisions, especially when said person is a sixteen year old girl.

    This lady is allowed to feel how she feels about the situation, and I really get that she has a hard time being negative about it all when 1) she feels responsible for it to begin with and 2) it’s an experience that fundamentally shaped her as a person and you can’t really bring yourself to be negative about something that you feel made you who you are today. She’s wrangling with a great deal of baggage here, and I sympathize. But she’s also got to understand that when she goes public with a story like this, people other than her are going to perceive it in their own way. For me, I see it as part of a larger pattern in Woody Allen’s predatory behaviour, and I know a lot of others see it that way too.

  25. Darla says:

    Writer exaggerated the age difference to make a point.

    He was born December 1, 1935. She was born December 4, 1959.

    So if he was 41, she was 17 not 16.

    • Trashaddict says:

      Think about it, Darla. She wasn’t even half his age. Legalities aside, totally inappropriate.
      It’s pathetic to have to legislate everything because people are raised with no self-control.
      Woody Allen is still playing out the same neurosis in his head, year after year, and whoever his therapist was, was enabling him.