Freethought of the Day

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There are 2 entries for this date: Sarah Silverman and Woody Allen
Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman

On this date in 1970, Sarah Kate Silverman was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, into a secular Jewish home. Silverman acted in plays as a teen and first performed stand-up comedy at age 17. She attended New York University for a year and dropped out to work in New York City comedy clubs. Silverman worked as a writer and featured player on "Saturday Night Live" for the 1993-94 season when she was only 21. She was featured on “Mr. Show,” a sketch comedy show on HBO, from 1995-97.

Silverman appeared in films such as “There’s Something About Mary” (1998), “Heartbreakers” (2001), “The School of Rock” (2003), “Rent” (2005) and “The Muppets” (2011). Her film based on her stand-up, “Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic,” got positive reviews in 2005. “The Sarah Silverman Program” aired on Comedy Central between 2007 and 2010 and was one of the network’s highest rated shows. Silverman was nominated for an Emmy for her acting on the show in 2009. She won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics in 2008 for the short video she also starred in called “I’m Fucking Matt Damon,” which first aired on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” (She and Kimmel were in a relationship from 2002-08.) Her memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee (2010), was a New York Times best-seller.

In a comic video first seen on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Silverman suggests to the pope: “Sell the Vatican, take a big chunk of that money, build a gorgeous condominium for you and all of your friends to live in, all the amenities, swimming pool, tennis court, water slide. And with the money left over, feed the whole fucking world. You preach to live humbly, and I totally agree. So now maybe it's time for you to move out of your house that is a city.” In an interview on “CNN Larry King Live,” King asked her if she was agnostic, to which she replied, “Yes, I'm agnostic. I don't know. I just don't know. I think people need religion because they need to know. They need to get their head around it. But you know, I don't know. I don't know what the answers are.” (April 20, 2010.)

Silverman at the 2007 Tribeca Film festival. Joan Garvin public domain photo.

"I just think of myself as a comedian, really. I mean, I talk about being Jewish a lot. It’s funny because I do think of myself as Jewish ethnically, but I’m not religious at all. I have no religion."

—Silverman in an interview with Slate online (Nov. 10, 2005)

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Woody Allen

Woody Allen

On this date in 1935, actor-director Woody Allen (né Allen Stewart Konigsberg), was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. His Jewish parents sent him to eight years of Hebrew school. "I am a Jew only in the sense that I was born into a Jewish family. I have no interest in the organized religions beyond a certain cerebral historical curiosity. They are all nonsense to me in their basic premises. ... I'm agnostic, but I have one foot in atheism." (The Guardian Weekend, March 29, 1997.) 

His autobiographical "Stardust Memories" (1980) has an Allen character who quips, "To you, I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition." In his book, Without Feathers (1975), Allen wrote, "How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?"

He began selling gags to an agency serving newspaper columnists as a teen. By 16 he was writing for Sid Caesar and started to call himself Woody Allen. He briefly attended New York University, but dropped out to write scripts for television, including "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Tonight Show." Allen won (with Larry Gelbart) a Best Writing Emmy in 1959 for a "Sid Caesar Show script. He did stand-up comedy, then returned to writing, working for a time for the TV show "Candid Camera."

He wrote his first film, "What's New, Pussycat" in 1965, and directed his first film, "What's Up, Tiger Lily," in 1966. His first onscreen acting appearance was a bit part in the James Bond film "Casino Royale" (1967). He began to write and direct a series of comic movies: "Take the Money and Run" (1969), "Bananas" (1971), "Play It Again, Sam" (1972), "Sleeper" (1973), "Annie Hall" (1977, which won four Oscars), "Manhattan" (1979), "Midsummer Nights Sex Comedy" (1982) and "Celebrity" (1998). His early, serious films include "Interiors" (1978), "Hannah & Her Sisters" (1986) and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989). He made 21 movies in the 2000s, the last as of this writing, "A Rainy Day in New York" in 2019.

Allen has won four Academy Awards: three for Best Original Screenplay and one for Best Director. He also has garnered nine British Academy Film Awards. He has been married three times: to Harlene Rosen (1956–59), Louise Lasser, (1966–70) and Soon-Yi Previn (1997–present). He also had a 12-year relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who starred in 13 of his films from 1982-92. Farrow had seven children when they met: three biological sons from her marriage to composer André Previn, three adopted girls (including Soon-Yi) and an adopted boy. Allen and Farrow had a son, Satchel Ronan, in 1987. He later dropped his first name.

Allen's reputation was seriously damaged after he was accused of sexually touching Farrow's 7-year-old adopted daughter Dylan in 1992. Farrow also discovered that year that Allen, then 56, and Soon-Yi, 22, were having sex. In March 1993, a six-month investigation by the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of Yale-New Haven Hospital concluded Dylan hadn't been sexually assaulted. During a hearing in June 1993, state Supreme Court Justice Elliott Wilk rejected Allen's bid for custody of three of the couple's children, saying he was less certain of Allen's lack of culpability than hospital clinic investigators were and called his conduct with the child "grossly inappropriate." The state Department of Social Services closed its investigation in October 1993, concluding there was no credible evidence of abuse.

“Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.”

—Allen, "My Philosophy," The New Yorker (Dec. 27, 1969)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; photo by Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com

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