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Diane Keaton: Godfather Girlfriend And Real Life Annie Hall, Then And Now

Entertainment | October 28, 2020

Actress Diane Keaton, playing the lead role of Theresa, gazes upward during a scene from the 1977 drama Looking for Mr. Goodbar. (Photo by John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Diane Keaton became a movie star in the feminist '70s as a rebel and an unapologetic intellectual. In The Godfather, she played a gangster's girlfriend unwilling to go along with the family's criminal ways. In Annie Hall, she challenged the male lead -- Woody Allen, who called her his muse -- disarming him with her forthrightness and her fashion sense. Keaton played women who were beautiful and brainy, rising to the occasion in the "New Hollywood" era, when filmmakers were challenging a lot of film conventions -- including the portrayals of female characters. Sure, she could hop into a bubble bath with Elliott Gould (in I Will... I Will... For Now) or hop from bed to bed in Looking For Mr. Goodbar, but Keaton always gave you the feeling she could talk (and think) circles around the men she shared the screen with.

Diane Keaton in 2012. Source: (Wikipedia)

Diane Keaton was born in Los Angeles California on January 5, 1946. She was raised in Santa Ana, where she graduated from high school. Her inspiration to become an actress came from her mother, not because her mother was an actress, but because she won the “Mrs. Los Angeles” pageant for homemakers, and the theatricality of the event sparked her desire to act. She participated in acting and singing classes in high school, playing the role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. After graduation, she entered Santa Ana College followed by Orange Coast College to study acting but dropped out after a year. She moved to New York to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater. Her given name was Diane Hall, but she decided to use her mother’s maiden name, Keaton, as her surname so that she was not confused with Diane Hall, who was already an actress with the Screen Actor’s Guild.  

She Stayed Clothed In 'Hair'

Her first Broadway appearance, in Hair. Source: (Pinterest)

In 1968, she was cast as a part of the “Tribe” for the Broadway musical Hair; she was also the understudy for the role of Sheila, and her performance was noteworthy because she refused to bare it all. She was in Hair for nine months, and then auditioned for Woody Allen’s production of Play it Again, Sam. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the show. Her film debut came in 1970 in Lovers and Other Strangers. In addition, during this time, she had television appearances on Love, American Style, Mannix, and Night Gallery. She also appeared in deodorant commercials.

The Girlfriend Of A Mobster

With Al Pacino, in The Godfather. Source: (Insider)

Her big break came as Kay Adams, the girlfriend of Michael Corleone in The Godfather. She reprised the role in The Godfather II, this time as Corleone’s wife. By the time she was cast in The Godfather, she had a reputation for eccentricity. During the 1970s, she also had roles in two Woody Allen films before she was cast as Annie Hall, Sleeper, and Love and Death

She Becomes Woody Allen's Muse

With Woody Allen. Source: (The Woody Allen Pages).

Then, in 1977, Keaton won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Annie Hall in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Allen based the character partially on Keaton, naming her after Keaton (one of Keaton’s nicknames is Annie, and her original surname was Hall). Her character in the film was a contradiction to the heroines of the past in that she was not a polished heroine, but rather a bit quirky and self-deprecating. Of all of Keaton's roles, this role was probably most like Keaton herself. She worked with Allen on several other films throughout her career, specifically Interiors, Manhattan, Manhattan Murder Mystery, and the film version of Play It Again, Sam. Woody Allen has credited Keaton as his muse.

Diane Keaton, Fashion Icon

Source: (Purple Clover)

Annie Hall’s costuming also seemed to arise out of Keaton’s own personality. Keaton has said she “wore whatever the hell I liked,” on the set, and even though the film did have a costume designer, some of the character’s clothing did come from Keaton herself. Prior to the film, her use of vintage men’s clothing such as fedoras, baggy pants, and neckties, made her a fashion icon. Her love of fashion started at a young age as well. She would pick out patterns and her mother would sew them for her. As she got older, she continued to keep a fashion scrapbook.

Life After 'Annie Hall'

With Richard Gere in Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Source: (Cult Film Freak)

While the character of Annie Hall embodies much of Keaton, she is not a limited actress; in 1977, she landed the role of the lead in Looking for Mr. Goodbar, in which she played the role of a Catholic school teacher who has a double life as a promiscuous woman frequenting singles bars at night. In 1981, she was cast as Louise Bryant in Warren Beatty’s Reds. For the role, she earned a second Academy Award nomination as well as significant critical acclaim. The following year, she won further critical acclaim for her performance in Shoot the Moon, opposite Albert Kinney.  

The Film Continues To Go On

With Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn in First Wives Club. Source: (Soap Hub

In 1987, she branched into other aspects of film, directing and editing Heaven. In 1995, she directed Unstrung Heroes, and continued acting, receiving another Academy Award nomination for her role in the film Marvin's Room.  In 1996, she had one of her most commercially successful appearances in The First Wives’ Club. In 2003, she had her first hit since 1996, starring opposite Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give  and she received yet another Academy Award nomination for the role. The movie was considered somewhat risky as it was a love story about two older individuals falling in love. As Keaton told Ladies’ Home Journal, "Let's face it, people my age and Jack's age are much deeper, much more soulful, because they've seen a lot of life. They have a great deal of passion and hope--why shouldn't they fall in love? Why shouldn't movies show that?” She has continued to act and has done voice-over work, notably as Jenny in Finding Dory in 2016.

An Unconventional Personal Life

With Jack Nicholson in Something's Gotta Give. Source: (Empire)

Keaton has been in relationships with three men in the entertainment industry, all of whom portrayed on-screen lovers as well: Woody Allen, Al Pacino, and Warren Beatty (sheesh, who didn't?). However, she never married. At the age of 50, she adopted her first child, her daughter Dexter, and a few years later, she adopted her son, Duke.

When She's Not Acting

Source: (It's Rosy)

She has an interest in photography as well as real estate and has written two memoirs. Her first, Then Again, was released in 2011. In 2015, her second memoir, Let’s Just Say it Wasn’t Pretty, in which she tackles her insecurities about her looks hit the shelves. Although she may have insecurities about the way she looks, she is opposed to plastic surgery, demonstrating one of her central beliefs: to stay true to herself. In 2006, the style icon became the face of L’Oreal.  

Tags: Diane Keaton | Ladies | Then And Now

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Cyn Felthousen-Post

Writer

Cyn loves history, music, Irish dancing, college football and nature. Social media is also her thing, keeping up with trends and celebrities with positive news. She can be found outside walking or hiking with her son when she's not working. Carpe diem is her fave quote, get out there and seize the day!