A former model has claimed that she was just 16 years old when she embarked on an eight-year romantic relationship with director Woody Allen, who was 25 years her senior and who, on occasion, arranged for her to have threesomes with him and his then-girlfriend, actress and activist Mia Farrow.
Christina Engelhardt, now 59, met Allen in 1976 at Elaine’s restaurant in New York City, she told The Hollywood Reporter for a feature that went live on Monday. Engelhardt, then an aspiring model and a fan of his work, slipped him her phone number, and he later invited her to his penthouse, she said. She alleges that Allen never asked for her age, but she did inform him that she was still in high school. Despite the illegality of their relationship (the age of consent in New York is 17), it was the start of something that would last nearly a decade, she told the outlet, and which included threesomes with numerous other women, including Farrow.
Engelhardt seems to still view her relationship with Allen in a largely positive, if complicated, light.
“What made me speak is I thought I could provide a perspective,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m not attacking Woody. This is not ‘bring down this man.’ I’m talking about my love story. This made me who I am. I have no regrets.”
Both Allen and Farrow declined The Hollywood Reporter’s request for comment, and neither have issued statements on Engelhardt's claims.
Over the course of eight years together, Allen never discussed his work with Engelhardt and they kept their relationship largely private, only ever meeting at his apartment, an arrangement that Engelhardt had no issue with, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I was a pleaser, agreeable,” she said. “Knowing he was a director, I didn’t argue. I was coming from a place of devotion.”
After Engelhardt and Allen had been together for a year, Allen began arranging threesomes with two “beautiful young ladies,” encounters she described to The Hollywood Reporter as “interesting — a ‘70s exploration.” When he began dating actress Mia Farrow four years into his relationship with Engelhardt, Allen introduced the “Rosemary’s Baby” star as his girlfriend, something that shocked Engelhardt, as she considered herself his girlfriend.
“I felt sick. I didn't want to be there at all, and yet I couldn’t find the courage to get up and leave,” Engelhardt wrote in one of two unpublished memoirs, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “To leave would mean an end to all of this. Looking back now, that’s exactly what I needed, but back then, the idea of not having Woody in my life at all terrified me. So I sat there, patiently, calmly trying to assess the situation, trying to understand why he wanted the two of us to meet.”
Allen, Engelhardt, and Farrow went on to have a “handful” of threesomes and smoke marijuana together. Engelhardt eventually grew fond of Farrow after the two bonded over a shared interest in astrology and animals, she told the outlet. Allen would famously go on to marry Farrow’s adopted step-daughter Soon-Yi Previn, to whom he’s been married for more than 20 years now, in a controversial move that inspired sympathy in Engelhardt, she said.
“I felt sorry for Mia,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
Allen and Farrow have long had a contentious relationship. Shortly after Farrow discovered the director’s relationship with Previn, their adopted 7-year-old daughter Dylan Farrow claimed that Allen sexually abused her, an allegation that prompted the child’s pediatrician to go to the police. Allen was never charged, despite being the subject of an extensive investigation. He repeatedly denied abusing Dylan after the claims became public knowledge and again in 2014, after Dylan reiterated her claims in an open letter on the subject.
The accusations surfaced after Engelhardt had already cut ties with Allen, according to her timeline. After eight years with Allen, she grew tired of her relationship with him and left New York City, she told The Hollywood Reporter. She went on to work for (and allegedly inspire) famed director Federico Fellini, and brush elbows with supermodel Iman and businessman Adnan Khashoggi. Engelhardt, who now works as an assistant for producer Bob Evans, believes herself to be one of many young lovers who probably inspired Allen’s 1979 film “Manhattan” and the on-screen relationship between Allen’s character, a writer in his 40s, and a 17-year-old high school student.
“I thought I was special, and then I realized [Allen is] a big person and he’s got a big life — I’m in his life,” she said of her decision to leave the director. “It’s a rainbow with many colors, and I’m one of them.”
Engelhardt and Allen have not communicated since 2001, when he sent her a thank you note after she’d mailed him a copy of a documentary about Fellini that she’d appeared in. Allen suggested introducing her to his wife, but she apparently declined.
“I already had children then,” she said. “I was like — not that I’ve gone square, but my priorities were different. I just wanted to stay away from that.”
Even before Engelhardt's claims of an illegal relationship, Allen continued to be a controversial figure in the entertainment industry amid the growing influence of the #MeToo movement. While his career has yet to go the way of Harvey Weinstein’s, his influence seems to be dwindling. Amazon shelved his latest film, “A Rainy Day In New York,” after initially planning for a 2018 release, and at present time, the film remains in limbo, with a number of actors and actresses who have worked with Allen in the past publicly distancing themselves from him and his work.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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