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Keaton was Woody's 'endearing oaf'

She would know: Going out with Woody Allen was like being in a Woody Allen movie, Diane Keaton writes in an upcoming memoir.
/ Source: The Associated Press

She would know: Going out with Woody Allen was like being in a Woody Allen movie, Diane Keaton writes in an upcoming memoir.

The Academy Award-winning actress starred with Allen in such favorites as "Sleeper" and "Love and Death" and got an Oscar for "Annie Hall," in which her baggy-panted WASP meshed unforgettably with Allen's patented schlemiel. Allen and Keaton dated for a few years and remain close.

"I was his endearing oaf. I had him pegged as a cross between a 'White Thing' and the cockroach you couldn't kill," Keaton, 65, writes in "Then Again," which comes out next month and is excerpted in the November issue of Vogue, arriving at newsstands Oct 25.

"We shared a love of torturing each other with our failures. His insights into my character were dead-on and hilarious. This bond remains the core of our friendship and, for me, love."

Keaton writes that she met Allen in 1968 when they worked together in Allen's stage comedy "Play It Again, Sam," roles they re-enacted for the 1972 film version. Allen is the divorced neurotic who channels the spirit of Humphrey Bogart to help with his love life. The actress falls for him in the script and soon did the same in real life.

"How could I not? I was in love with him before I knew him. He was Woody Allen. Our entire family used to gather around the TV set and watch him on Johnny Carson. He was so hip, with his thick glasses and cool suits," she writes. "But it was his manner that got me, his way of gesturing, his hands, his coughing and looking down in a self-deprecating way while he told jokes like 'I couldn't get a date for New Year's Eve so I went home and I jumped naked into a vat of Roosevelt dimes.'

"He was even better-looking in real life. He had a great body, and he was physically very graceful."

Like scenes out of "Annie Hall," "Manhattan" and so many other Allen comedies, Allen and Keaton took in art-house films such as Ingmar Bergman's "Persona," checked out German Expressionist art on Madison Avenue and visited a Diane Arbus exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.

In what for Allen must have been a sign of true love, he even recommended an analyst.

"Woody got used to me. He couldn't help himself; he loved neurotic girls," writes Keaton, whose other boyfriends have included Al Pacino and Warren Beatty.

Keaton's book centers on her close relationship with her mother, Dorothy Hall, and "Then Again" includes excerpts from family journals and letters. In one journal entry, Keaton's mother remembers seeing a screening in 1977 of "Annie Hall." The movie was based in part on Allen's relationship with Keaton, whose birth name is Diane Hall.

"Annie's camera in hand, her gum chewing, her lack of confidence; pure Diane. The story was tender, funny, and sad. It ended in separation, just like real life," writes Dorothy Hall, who died in 2008. She was less taken by the scenes featuring the Hall family, whom Allen presented as a winterish clan eating meals in silence while Annie's brother (Christopher Walken) contemplates mayhem. Colleen Dewhurst played Annie's mother.

"Colleen Dewhurst as me was not a high spot," Hall writes. "The audience loved it though. They were clapping and laughing the whole way. This will be a very popular movie."