Woman claiming to be Woody Allen's 'secret teen lover' speaks out for first time, says she inspired 'Manhattan'

A woman who claims she had a sexual relationship with Woody Allen that started when she was 16 is detailing their time together.

In October 1976, Christina Engelhardt — who then went by Babi Christina Engelhardt — was a confident young model who approached the 40-year-old controversial director at Elaine’s, a restaurant in NYC, to give him her number. She told the Hollywood Reporter that kicked off an eight-year sexual relationship, which she thinks partially inspired his 1979 film Manhattan — the one where Mariel Hemingway’s 17-year-old character slept with Allen’s 42-year-old character. Engelhardt also claims their relationship included threesοmes with Mia Farrow.

Engelhardt, who wrote an unpublished (for now!) memoir about her time with Allen as well as being the platonic muse of Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, said she was a teen living at home in New Jersey when the intimate relationship began. Allen never asked her age, she claimed. In December 1976, she turned 17, making liaisons legal in New York. Several people Engelhardt, now 59, knew back then confirmed the relationship, including photographer Andrew Unangst, who was with her when she met Allen, as well as a friend who dropped her at Allen’s NYC penthouse. Engelhardt’s younger brother, Mike, recalled to THR how Allen would call their parents home to speak to his sister: “I’d holler out, ‘Babi, it’s Woody!’ My brain didn’t think something romantic; I was 11 or 12 and a huge fan. I mean, Bananas?!”

 

Engelhardt, who went on to work in the entertainment industry as an actress, producer, and personal assistant to producer Bob Evans, made it clear to THR she’s not out to get Allen. “What made me speak is I thought I could provide a perspective,” she said. “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.”

Engelhardt detailed how she jumped into the relationship with Allen, going to his Manhattan apartment more than 100 times. They’d play chess, watch a basketball game on TV, but mostly they were in an upstairs bedroom facing Central Park. A year into things, he occasionally brought home two other “beautiful young ladies” for threesοmes, she claimed. However, four years into the relationship, she said Allen told her he wanted to introduce her to his new “girlfriend,” Farrow. Initially upset because she thought she was Allen’s girlfriend, she grew to like the Rosemary’s Baby star during a “handful” of alleged threesοmes with Allen.

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Woody Allen and Mia Farrow together
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Woody Allen and Mia Farrow together
Actor/director Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. (Photo by David Mcgough/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Woody Allen walks with Mia Farrow in a field in a scene from the film 'A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy', 1982. (Photo by Orion/Getty Images)
Mia Farrow with Woody Allen walking on the street; circa 1970; New York. (Photo by Art Zelin/Getty Images)
American actress Mia Farrow with actor, director and screenwriter Woody Allen on the set of his movie Shadows and Fog. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Woody Allen and Mia Farrow at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - circa 1985: Actor and director Woody Allen with his partner, actress Mia Farrow. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - circa 1990: Woody Allen with Mia Farrow (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - circa 1990: Woody Allen with Mia Farrow and children (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Actor/director Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Director Woody Allen and actress/wife Mia Farrow at Lincoln Center in New York, 1992. (Photo by Rose Hartman/Getty Images)
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Engelhardt, who is also a psychic reader, said she and Farrow would smoke joints in Allen’s penthouse and talk about astrology and animals while Allen would be “forced to listen.” In her manuscript, she wrote, “There were times the three of us were together, and it was actually great fun. We enjoyed each other when we were in the moment. She was beautiful and sweet, he was charming and alluring, and I was sexy and becoming more and more sophisticated in this game. It wasn’t until after it was done when I really had time to think of how twisted it was when we were together … and how I was little more than a plaything.” She also felt Farrow was just “doing this because he wanted it.”

Allen and Farrow, of course, went on to have a long relationship that didn’t end well. He began a sexual relationship with her adoptive daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, whom he later married. Around that time, the couple’s adopted daughter, Dylan, accused Allen of sexually assaulting her. Since Dylan has spoken out — and in the era of #MeToo — there has been a backlash against Allen with actors who worked with him distancing themselves from him.

When Engelhardt moved on from Allen, she says she had a colorful life. She met and worked with Fellini in his later years, which she said Allen was excited to hear. (“He said, ‘You’re with Fellini — you left me for Fellini?! That’s so cool!'” she recalled.) She also told the website that she also partied with model Iman, dined with Stephen King, and was a personal assistant to Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier who was accused of sexually abusing teen girls but received a lenient plea deal. While she was acting, Engelhardt was an extra on Allen’s 1980 film Stardust Memories without telling him. “My dream was that he’d have seen me and pulled me out from the crowd,” she said. “But I showed up with the crowd and left with the crowd.” (She said that when they were together, he told her he couldn’t help her with her acting career.)

Engelhardt, now a divorced mom of two adult children, said she last heard from Allen in January 2001 when he sent her a letter thanking her for sending him a copy of a documentary about Fellini she’d appeared — and says she thought he had maybe hinted at a threesome with Previn. “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.”

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Woody Allen and Soon-Yi
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Woody Allen and Soon-Yi
Woody Allen (L) and Soon-Yi Previn arrive for the premiere of Allen's movie, "Everyone Says I Love You," in New York January 9. The movie is the first musical written and directed by Allen. It was filmed in New York, Paris, and Venice. PREMIERE ALLEN
U.S. actor and filmaker Woody Allen kisses Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his former lover Mia Farrow, in a gondola in Venice's Grand Canal December 24. Allen 62, and Previn, 27, were married in a secret civil ceremony December 23, officiated by Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari, at the imposing Palazzo Cavalli. ITALY ALLEN
Actor and director Woody Allen (R) sits next to his new wife Soon-Yi at the New York Knicks versus Orlando Magic basketball game, January 3 in Madison Square Garden. The couple were married last week in Venice. ALLEN
U.S. actor and director Woody Allen (L) and Soon-Yi Previn watch the final [between Pete Sampras and Marat Safin] at the U.S. Open in New York September 10, 2000.
U.S. director Woody Allen and his wife Soon Yi arrive at the Venice Movie Palace August 27, 2003. Allen film 'Anything Else' is set to kick off the 60th annual Venice Film Festival. REUTERS/Tony Gentile PP03080098 TG
Comic and film director Woody Allen and his wife, Soon Yi Previn (obscured-left) and children watch the Cleveland Cavaliers play the New York Knicks in an NBA game in New York's Madison Square Garden, January 28, 2005. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine RFS
U.S. director Woody Allen (L) arrives with his wife Soon Yi Previn during red carpet arrivals for the out of competition screening of his film "Match Point" at the 58th Cannes Film Festival May 12, 2005.
Director Woody Allen (L) and his wife Soon-Yi Previn arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of "Match Point" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles December 8, 2005. The movie tells the story of former tennis pro Chris who falls for Nola who happens to be dating one of Chris' friends. The movie opens in Los Angeles and New York on December 28. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
U.S. director Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi arrives at the Cinema Palace in Venice September 2, 2007. Allen's movie "Cassandra's Dream" is being shown at the Venice Film Festival. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi ( ITALY)
U.S. director Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi arrive for the screening of his film "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2008. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (FRANCE)
Director Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi pose at the premiere of the film "Whatever Works" in Paris June 19, 2009. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes (FRANCE ENTERTAINMENT)
Director Woody Allen (L) and his wife Soon-Yi (R) leave after the screening of the film "You will meet a tall dark stranger" at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 15, 2010. REUTERS/Yves Herman (FRANCE - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
U.S. film director Woody Allen poses with his wife Soon-Yi Previn during a photocall before a screening of his latest film "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" in Aviles, northern Spain, August 24, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer (SPAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Director of the movie and cast member Woody Allen (L) and his wife Soon-Yi Previn pose at the premiere of "To Rome with Love" during the opening night of the Los Angeles Film Festival at the Regal Cinemas in Los Angeles, California June 14, 2012. The movie opens limitedly in the U.S. on June 22. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
U.S. director Woody Allen and his wife Soon Yi Previn pose during the premiere of his film "To Rome with Love" in Rome April 13, 2012. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (ITALY - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Director Woody Allen arrives with his wife Soon-Yi Previn for the premiere of his film "Magic in the Moonlight" in New York July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Director Woody Allen (L) and his wife Soon-Yi Previn arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Irrational Man" out of competition at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 15, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
Director Woody Allen and his wifre Soon-Yi Previn pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the opening ceremony and the screening of the film "Cafe Society" out of competition during the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, May 11, 2016.FranceREUTERS/Eric Gaillard
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 27: Soon-Yi Previn and Woody Allen attend The Art Show Gala Preview at Park Avenue Armory on February 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Soon-Yi Previn and Woody Allen attend the Youth America Grand Prix Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow Gala at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on April 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Rebecca Smeyne/Getty Images)
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Engelhardt also talked about rewatching Manhattan. She acknowledged there may have been other people who inspired Hemingway’s character — actress Stacey Nelkin, who allegedly dated Allen as a 17-year-old high school student, has said she was his muse — she’s not sold on it. “When I heard her say that, I was like, ‘Whatever,'” she told THR. Hemingway said in 2015 that Allen tried to seduce her as a teen.

Allen and Farrow didn’t comment to the THR for the story. We reached out as well, but did not yet receive a response.

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