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When Frank Sinatra offered to break Woody Allen's legs

The legacy of American filmmaker Woody Allen, responsible for movies such as Annie Hall, The Purple Rose of Cairo. Vicky Christina Barcelona and countless others have forever been tarnished due to his public trial throughout the late 20th century that saw him accused of sexual abuse. The whole case was an exhaustive and tormenting one for both Alle and his ex-partner Mia Farrow, both of whom suffered greatly from the ordeal. 

Holding the sexual abuse allegations against Allen, it was Mia Farrow who fought for the filmmaker’s conviction, suggesting that her daughter, Dylan Farrow, had given her a confession regarding his abuse. Holding a press conference to defend himself, Woody Allen told the media: “This is an unconscionable and gruesomely damaging manipulation of innocent children for vindictive and self-serving motives”. 

Believing that Mia Farrow was manipulating the confession of Dylan to get at him due to his relationship with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, Allen was bitterly resentful toward the actor, adding, “The tragedy of programming one’s child to cooperate is unspeakable”. 

Making worldwide news, this scandal was also tied into a vicious custody battle that saw Mia Farrow trying to seek sole custody of their three children Satchel, Dylan, and Moses. During this time, Woody Allen was living with Farrow’s adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, whilst Mia Farrow had moved on to marry the superstar singer Frank Sinatra

The dark side of Hollywood: The full story of Woody Allen’s sexual abuse allegations

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Angered by the furious custody battle between Farrow and Allen, it is commonly speculated that Frank Sinatra tried to have the filmmaker threatened by the Mafia by breaking his legs. The allegation was reported to David Evanier, the author of Woody, a new biography about the filmmaking icon, with Farrow testifying in 1993 that she had told her therapist that one of her ex-husbands offered to break the director’s legs before adding that the comment was allegedly “a joke”. 

The singer and close friend of Sinatra, Frankie Randall, was quick to support the idea that this was not a joke, however, telling author, David Evanier: “Frank wanted him fucking clipped. Taken out. That’s what he wanted. Frank loved Mia”. According to Randall, Sinatra intended to use his well-known mafia ties to enact the brutal act, only for the mob to say that the operation would be too risky. 

Len Triola, a concert producer, told the author that Sinatra lacked the power to sanction such an act, stating: “The guys Frank dealt with, the old-timers, reputable people who aren’t with us anymore or [are] in jail, wouldn’t sanction that. It would set a bad precedent”. Despite Sinatra’s best efforts, Woody Allen’s legs were spared and he went on to make several more trite films well into the 21st century. 

Whilst the custody battle between Mia Farrow and Woody Allen was well-documented, who knew it would get so publicly wrought that even the mafia would consider getting involved. Check out the trailer for the HBO series, Allen v. Farrow, below, detailing the venomous custody battle between actress Mia Farrow and Woody Allen.