Who is Soon-Yi Previn? Woody Allen's adoptive daughter-turned-wife slams HBO docu as 'riddled with falsehoods'

After the release of HBO docuseries, 'Allen v Farrow', Woody Allen's wife, Soon-Yi Previn, who is 35 years younger to him called it a 'hatchet job'

                            Who is Soon-Yi Previn? Woody Allen's adoptive daughter-turned-wife slams HBO docu as 'riddled with falsehoods'
Woody Allen and adoptive daughter-turned wife Soon-Yi Previn have denounced HBO documentary 'Allen v Farrow' (Getty Images)

A representative for Woody Allen and his wife, Soon-Yi Previn, denounced the new HBO docuseries, 'Allen v. Farrow', which delves into Allen's headline-grabbing 1992 split with Mia Farrow amid allegations he sexually abused his young daughter Dylan Farrow, calling it a 'hatchet job' that was 'riddled with falsehoods.'

The couple also suggested that HBO's business dealings with his estranged son, Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, are proof that the documentary is biased in his favor since Ronan signed a multi-film production deal with HBO in 2018 for a three-year agreement that will have him producing and fronting a series of documentary specials for the cable powerhouse. "These documentarians had no interest in the truth," the statement read. And while every truth has two sides, here's what to know about 85-year-old Allen's wife who is 35 years younger to him.


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Director/actor Woody Allen kisses his wife Soon-Yi Previn as they attend a special screening of DreamWorks Pictures' "Anything Else" at the Paris Theatre September 16, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

Who is Soon-Yi Previn?

Soon-Yi was found in Seoul, South Korea, on February 12, 1976, as an abandoned child. She was then was placed temporarily in a local institution for abandoned children and after a search to locate her family failed, she was transferred to St. Paul's Orphanage.

For the first three years her adoptive mother Mia Farrow cared for her, Soon-Yi referred to her as “Good Mama,” as opposed to her natural mother, “Naughty Mama,” reported Vanity Fair. Naughty Mama was reportedly a prostitute, who would force Soon-Yi to kneel in a doorway for punishment and would slam the door against the little girl’s head. One day she left the child on a street in Seoul and said she would be back in five minutes, before disappearing forever. When the orphanage found Soon-Yi, she spoke no known language, just gibberish.

Ronan Farrow, Lark Previn, Woody Allen, Dylan Farrow, Fletcher Previn, Daisy Previn, Soon-Yi Previn, Moses Farrow, Mia Farrow (HBO)

Living out of trash cans

In December 1976, the Seoul Family Court established a legal birth document on her behalf with a presumptive birth date of October 8, 1970. She said that as a young child, she wandered the streets of Seoul starving and living out of trash cans.

She was adopted by Mia and her then-husband, André Previn in 1978. Mia waited almost a year to get her and finally had to request that Congress change the law that limited the number of alien children an American family could adopt. Nobody knows how old Soon-Yi really is. What we know about her age is from a bone scan Mia had done on her in the US, that put her age at between five and seven. Soon-Yi was also the most learning-deprived, the quietest and least socialized of all the children, who worked extraordinarily hard, spending hours on homework it took others a half-hour to complete. 

Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn (Getty Images)

'Straitlaced and proper —morally'

She made appearances in several movies, including 'Hannah and Her Sisters', 'Scenes from a Mall', and 'Wild Man Blues'. Audrey Sieger, who has been tutoring the children in the Previn-Farrow-Allen household for the last 12 years, described her to be very 'straitlaced, very, very proper—morally'. Soon-Yi, who had a picture of Fred Astaire next to her bed, seemed to live in a world of fairy-tale romance, dreaming of boyfriends who never called. “My personal opinion is that she’s basking in the sunlight of the attention,” says Sieger, “kind of like she’s in a romance.”

No one’s quite sure when Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi began. As a girl, Soon-Yi told her mother that Allen was “nasty and ugly,” but by the summer of 1991, he was taking her to Knicks games and encouraging her to pursue a career as an actress, reports the New York Post. In late 1991, while shooting 'Husbands and Wives' — in which Woody and Mia played a married couple who split up after Woody's character meets a 21-year-old girl — Mia discovered nude Polaroids of Soon-Yi on a 56-year-old Allen’s mantelpiece. She broke off her relationship with Allen after the discovery of the affair.

Soon-Yi Previn, Woody Allen and children Bechet Dumaine Allen and Manzie Tio Allen (Getty Images)


'Let's not get hysterical'

Soon-Yi, now 50, maintains that Allen "was never any kind of father figure [to her]," and that added that she "never had any dealings with him" during her childhood. She also said that Mia had physically abused her. "Mia was always very hot-tempered and given to rages which terrified all the kids. It's true Mia was violent with me and I have conclusive proof, but I hope she and Woody can somehow head off a custody trial," she said to Newsweek, adding that it was a tragedy that Mia's 'vindictiveness' caused the children to 'suffer.'

"'I'm a psychology major at college who fell for a man who happens to be the ex-boyfriend of Mia. I admit it's offbeat, but let's not get hysterical," she said in the 1992 interview. She also holds a master's degree in special education from Columbia University.

Soon-Yi married Allen in Venice in December 1997. The couple have adopted two children together, Bechet Dumaine Allen and Manzie Tio Allen. The family lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

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