Woody Allen and Mia Farrow: Scenes From A Breakup

A storied love affair crashes in shards as Mia Farrow accuses Woody Allen of incest and child molestation. For the prurient, it was a delight; for Allen and for Farrow's motley family, a piteous desce

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Aronson denies that Allen was a father figure to Soon-Yi. "Andre Previn was her father," she says. "He supported her; he visited her; they saw him on vacations." She also disputes the image of Farrow as an Earth-Mother Teresa. Early this year, Aronson says, Mia journeyed to Vietnam to adopt a boy, and she "dragged Satchel along -- he wasn't even four -- exposing him to illnesses and disease." The adoptee was using a wheelchair. When Mia returned, says Aronson, she took the boy to a doctor and learned he might also be slightly retarded. "That was not a handicap that suited her, so she pawned him off on another family. She gave him back to the woman who had arranged the adoption."

Attending to this misery, thoughtful people feel sick. Then they pose questions -- not whethers but whys: why Allen stayed with Farrow through her adoption obsession; why Farrow remained allied with Allen after discovering the affair; why both are forcing or allowing their families, including their children, to shill for them in the media. And of course, why Allen could not have shown the slightest moral etiquette, resisted temptation and kept his hands off Soon-Yi.

Allen's argument goes like this: Once upon a time, he and Mia were together, adopted kids, had one. When they stopped having sex, it was as if they were divorced but retained joint custody of the children. He was surely divorced emotionally; he could see no betrayal of Mia by turning to Soon-Yi. Perhaps Mia was still in love with him, assuming she had any love left over. But if Farrow's love turned to total obsession -- the woman-scorned syndrome, which could provoke fantasies of child abuse -- Allen's had long since become total detachment. That is why he admits not the slightest ethical error or ambiguity in his affair with Soon-Yi. It is also what blinds him to one crucial fact: he may not have considered himself Soon-Yi's father; but he must have known that Farrow considered herself Soon-Yi's mother.

It is said, perhaps too easily, that we marry our parents -- fall in love, that is, with people who resemble them. It is also said that we repeat our parents' behavior. Children of alcoholics are more likely to be alcoholics; abused kids too often become abusing parents. In this case we can see, or at least surmise, some piquant re-enactments of unusual life stories.

Mia was born into Hollywood royalty, the third of seven children of actress Maureen O'Sullivan (who played an unflattering version of herself in Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters) and director John Farrow (whose films include Sorority House, Full Confession, Married and in Love and Easy Come, Easy Go). As a child Mia had do-gooder dreams of becoming a Schweitzer-like doctor in the tropics; each Christmas she staged a pageant and sent the proceeds to the March of Dimes. The actress scored hits as a moody teen on TV's Peyton Place and a wife giving birth to the devil's son in Rosemary's Baby. At 21, Soon- Yi's present age, Mia married a famous entertainer in his 50s: Sinatra. After the divorce she was befriended by songwriter Dory Previn; she had an affair with Previn's husband Andre and became pregnant. They married, had three biological children and adopted three more. Soon-Yi was one of them.

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