We know Woody Allen as a neurotic Jewish-American comic who married his girlfriend’s adopted daughter and made many classic films along with some terrible ones. Everyone loves Annie Hall, a warm and funny comedy about relationships. Everyone hates Hollywood Ending, where the main character is blind and the audience wish they were too. And deaf. And watching something else.
But British audiences in 1966 knew him as the man who boxed a kangaroo at the Hippodrome. Sure, why not?
At the time, Allen was climbing the ladder of stardom. His new agents had persuaded him to take pretty much anything on offer that could raise his profile. He wrote jokes; scripted television; appeared in plays; did stand-up; recorded LPs; toured the UK. And he hosted an episode of the short-lived Hippodrome tv variety show. It was filmed in London by Rediffusion but, as it also aired in the US, would feature touring American stars like Nancy Sinatra and George Raft. Swinging London, baby.
As part of Allen’s hosting duties he had to box a kangaroo. It was a variety show, after all. Not much you can say about it (other than “well, that’s bizarre”) but anyone who believes the rumours about his kids won’t be happy with the result. Neither is the kangaroo, judging by the marsupial wrath it unleashes on the referee.
A reminder to us all that even millionaire New Yorkers had to shed their dignity now and again on the road to fame and fortune.
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