Diane Keaton, not just Woody’s muse

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton’s signature role came early in her career, in the Woody Allen comedy Annie Hall (1977). Keaton’s self-assured, WASP-y character, the titular Annie Hall, supplied a ready foil for Allen’s New York Jewish neuroticism, and the ex-couple’s onscreen verbal duels made for great comedic drama and incisive commentary on the Me generation of the 70s. The role established Keaton’s reputation as an actress of extraordinary talent and won her an Oscar for Best Actress.

Born on January 5, 1946, in Los Angeles, California, Diane Keaton (born Diane Hall) studied acting in New York City’s Neighborhood Playhouse School and began her career in theater as the understudy in “Hair.” In 1969, she met Woody Allen, who directed her in his play “Play It Again Sam.” The two soon began a romantic relationship, which would become autobiographical fodder for Annie Hall.

After making her film debut in director Cy Howard’s Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), Keaton starred and appeared in a series of Woody Allen films. Their professional relationship would span decades. There were: Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), the superlative Manhattan (1979), Radio Days (1987), and Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993). Along the way, she broadened her range in the relationship drama Shoot the Moon (1982), The Little Drummer Girl (1984), an adaptation of the John Le Carre novel, and Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), a controversial film in which Keaton played a woman drawn to sexual promiscuity in the singles scene of the time. Francis Ford Coppola also cast Keaton as Al Pacino’s WASP-y love interest in The Godfather (1974), a role she would reprise throughout the trilogy. And her then-boyfriend Warren Beatty cast her in Reds (1981), his Russian Revolution epic that met with disappointing box office returns.

Diane Keaton Annie Hall

Diane in Annie Hall, for which she the Oscar for best actress.

In the early 80s, Keaton headlined a pair of successes, Crimes of the Heart (1986) and Baby Boom (1987), the latter a timely film about a professional woman’s attempts to balance job and baby. She also released several directorial efforts, including Heaven (1987), an inquisitive, quirky documentary about our notions of the afterlife, and appeared in TV films throughout the early 90s: “Running Mates,” The Girl with the Crazy Brother,” “Wildflower,” and “Amelia Earhart: the Final Flight,” playing the pioneering aviator. In addition, she directed an episode of David Lynch’s surreal “Twin Peaks,” and released her feature-length directorial debut, Unstrung Heroes (1995).

Keaton’s again received an Oscar® nomination for the well-received Marvin’s Room (1996), which also starred Meryl Streep and featured a young Leonardo DiCaprio. She also co-starred with Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn in the comedy hit The First Wives Club (1996). She also co-starred with Steve Martin in the hit comedy Father of the Bride (1991) and its sequel Father of the Bride 2 (1995).

Throughout the 2000’s and 2010’s Keaton has worked steadily scoring hits with 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give and The Family Stone in 2006. Most recently, besides appearing on chat shows bemoaning a lack of a man in her life, she provided the voice of Dory’s mother in Pixar’s Finding Dory.