Soon-Yi Previn

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Soon-Yi Previn
Soon Yi Previn at the Tribeca Film Festival.jpg
Previn at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
Oh Soon-hee

c. (1970-10-08) October 8, 1970 (age 50)
Seoul, South Korea
Alma materDrew University
Notable credit(s)
(m. 1997)
Children2 (adopted)
Soon-Yi Previn
순이 프레빈
Revised RomanizationSun-i Peurebin
McCune–ReischauerSuni Pŭrepin
IPA[sʰuni pʰɯɾebin]

Soon-Yi Previn (/ˈprɛvɪn/; née Oh Soon-hee, Korean오순희; born c. October 8, 1970) is the adopted daughter of actress Mia Farrow and musician André Previn, and the wife of filmmaker Woody Allen. Soon-Yi Previn is notable for her relationship with Allen, who was her adoptive mother's boyfriend for over 10 years. Previn's relationship with Allen became national news in 1992.

Early life and education[edit]

Soon-Yi Previn (original name Oh Soon-Hee) was born in South Korea. She was found in Seoul on February 12, 1976, as an abandoned child. She was placed temporarily in Maria's House, a local institution for abandoned children, while an effort was made to identify and locate her parents and relatives. When the search failed, she was transferred to St. Paul's Orphanage. The Seoul Family Court established a Family Census Register (legal birth document) on her behalf on December 28, 1976, with a presumptive birth date of October 8, 1970.[1][2][3][4] A bone scan at the time of her adoption put her age at between five and seven.[3] Previn has said that as a young child, she wandered the streets of Seoul starving and living out of trash cans.[4]

At the time of Soon-Yi's adoption, U.S. law allowed two visas per family for international adoption. Her adoptive mother, Mia Farrow, requested that her friends Rose and William Styron ask U.S. Representative Michael Harrington to sponsor a private bill to enable her adoption to the United States. This bill, HR 1552, became Private Law 95-37 on May 15, 1978, paving Soon-Yi's way to immigrate to the United States.[5][6] In 1978, Farrow and her then husband, André Previn, adopted Soon-Yi and took her to the United States.[7] Just after the adoption, Farrow wrote to Nancy Sinatra about Soon-Yi, "Now she speaks English and is learning to read, write, play piano, dance ballet & ride a horse".[8] Farrow later said that at the time of her adoption, Soon-Yi spoke no known language and had learning disabilities.[9][7] Rose Styron is Soon-Yi's godmother.[9]

In 1979, Farrow's marriage to André Previn ended and she began a long-term relationship with Woody Allen.[10] Allen later adopted two of Farrow's adopted children: Dylan Farrow (also known as Eliza) and Moses Farrow. Mia Farrow also gave birth to Ronan Farrow in 1987.

Soon-Yi Previn graduated from Marymount School of New York in 1991.[11] After a summer as a salesgirl at Bergdorf Goodman, she began her freshman year as a commuter student at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, in September 1991.[11]

Previn graduated from Drew University[12][13] and earned a master's degree in special education from Columbia University.[9][14]

During her teens, Previn made an uncredited appearance in Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), which starred Farrow. She appeared as an extra in Paul Mazursky's 1991 film Scenes from a Mall,[9] which starred Allen. She also appeared alongside Allen in the documentary Wild Man Blues (1997).[citation needed]

In 1992, Previn said that Farrow had physically abused her.[15] In 2018, Previn's brother Moses Farrow has said that he too was physically abused by Farrow.[16]

Relationship with Woody Allen[edit]

Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn in Venice in 1996

Previn has said that Allen "was never any kind of father figure [to her]," and added that she "never had any dealings with him" during her childhood.[15] The findings of the judicial investigation carried out during the custody trial between Allen and Farrow determined that before 1990 they had rarely even spoken to each other.[17] According to Previn, her first friendly interaction with Allen took place when she was injured playing soccer during 11th grade and Allen offered to transport her to school. Following her injury, Previn began attending New York Knicks basketball games with Allen.[4]

In January 1992, Farrow found nude photographs of Previn in Allen's home. Allen, then 56, told Farrow that he had taken the photos the day before, approximately two weeks after he and Previn had first had sex.[18] Farrow contends that she broke off her relationship with Allen in 1992 following her discovery of the affair;[19][9] Previn and Allen dispute that, claiming that Allen and Farrow were no longer dating when Farrow discovered the photos.[15]

Previn's exact date of birth is unknown, but she graduated from high school and began college in 1991.[4] According to the date of birth her orphanage assigned her, she turned 21 in October 1991.[4][20][21] A judicial investigation used December 1991 as the beginning of Allen and Previn's sexual relationship,[17] but family friends believe it may have started in the spring or summer of 1991.[3][21] Court testimony from Allen's doorman and housekeeper suggested that Allen and Previn began their sexual relationship during Previn's senior year in high school.[21][22]

Allen described his relationship with Previn as a "fling" that developed into a more significant relationship,[23] but in a 2018 interview Previn said, "From the first kiss I was a goner and loved him."[11] He has called his role in their relationship since their 1997 marriage "paternal".[24][9][7][25] On August 17, 1992, Allen issued a statement that he was in love with Previn.[26] Previn was surprised by his declaration: “I only knew that he loved me when he gave the press conference and said it publicly. Even then, I wasn’t sure if he meant it. We had never said those words to each other.”[11]

Previn's relationship with Allen became public and "erupted into tabloid headlines and late-night monologues in August 1992."[27] In his 1994 decision regarding the ongoing custody battle between Allen and Farrow, Wilk wrote that he found "the fact that Mr. Allen took [nude photos of Previn] at a time when he was formally assuming a legal responsibility for two of Ms. Previn's siblings to be totally unacceptable...At the very minimum, it demonstrates an absence of any parenting skills."[17]

In the aftermath of the scandal involving Soon-Yi and Allen, her father André Previn said of Soon-Yi, "She does not exist."[28]

Previn married Allen in Venice on December 22, 1997.[14] They have adopted two daughters together: Bechet Dumaine Allen and Manzie Tio Allen.[23][29] According to Previn's longtime friends, Previn has devoted her adulthood to being a wife and stay-at-home mother.[4]

The Previn-Allen family resides on Manhattan's Upper East Side.[30] As of 2018, Previn remained estranged from Mia Farrow.[31]


  1. ^ United States Congressional serial set. 1977.
  2. ^ Congressional Serial Set. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1978.
  3. ^ a b c Orth, Maureen (November 1992). "Mia's Story". Vanity Fair. Nobody knows how old Soon-Yi really is. Without ever seeing her, Korean officials put her age down as seven on her passport. A bone scan Mia had done on her in the U.S. put her age at between five and seven. In the family, Soon-Yi is considered to have turned 20 this year, on October 8 [1992].
  4. ^ a b c d e f Merkin, Daphne (September 16, 2018). "Introducing Soon-Yi Previn [interview]". She first comes into view in about 1975 as a 5-year-old runaway on the streets of Seoul. (There are no extant records of Soon-Yi's early life, but a document signed by both Mia and André Previn, her adoptive father, ... has her date of birth as October 8, 1970.)
  5. ^ Wypijewski, Joann (February 26, 2014). "Woody and Mia: A Modern Family Timeline". The Nation.
  6. ^ Harrington, Michael J. (May 15, 1978). "Actions - H.R.1552 - 95th Congress (1977-1978): An Act for the relief of Oh Soon Yi". Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Callahan, Maureen (January 8, 2012). "The quiet victory of Mia & the kids Woody left behind". New York Post. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  8. ^ Corliss, Richard (August 31, 1992). "Woody Allen and Mia Farrow: Scenes From A Breakup". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Orth, Maureen. "Mia's Story". Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  10. ^ Vultaggio, Maria (May 11, 2016). "Woody Allen, Wife Soon-Yi And Their Bizarre History: Ronan Farrow Addresses Sex Abuse Allegations At Cannes". International Business Times. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d Merkin, Daphne (September 16, 2018). "After Decades of Silence, Soon-Yi Previn Speaks". Vulture. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  12. ^ "Drew University - Profile, Rankings and Data". U.S. News & World Report.
  13. ^ Morrissey, Tracie Egan (February 10, 2014). "All Mia's Children: The Tangled Branches of the Farrow Family Tree". Jezebel. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Woody Allen marries Soon-Yi in Venice". CNN. December 24, 1997. Archived from the original on April 14, 2001. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c "Soon-Yi Speaks: 'Let's Not Get Hysterical'". Newsweek. August 30, 1992. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  16. ^ "Moses Farrow Speaks Out". January 4, 2018.
  17. ^ a b c "ALLEN v. FARROW". Leagle. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  18. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (March 23, 1993). "Nude Photographs Are Focus Of Woody Allen's Testimony". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 17, 2018.
  19. ^ Tait, Robert (May 5, 2016). "Woody Allen 'immune' to criticism over affair with former partner's daughter". The Telegraph.
  20. ^ Farrow, Moses. "A SON SPEAKS OUT". A SON SPEAKS OUT By Moses Farrow. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  21. ^ a b c Rao, Sonia (March 1, 2021). "'Allen v. Farrow': 5 takeaways from the second episode, which focuses heavily on Soon-Yi Previn". The Washington Post.
  22. ^ Stern, Marlow (February 16, 2021). "'Allen v. Farrow' Is a Horrifying Indictment of Woody Allen". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  23. ^ a b Fragoso, Sam (July 29, 2015). "At 79, Woody Allen Says There's Still Time To Do His Best Work". NPR.
  24. ^ Silman, Anna (July 30, 2015). "A history of Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn describing their relationship, from "the heart wants what it wants" to "I was paternal"". Salon. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  25. ^ Winter, Jessica (January 17, 2014). "Did Woody Allen Molest His Adopted Daughter 22 Years Ago". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  26. ^ Weber, Bruce (August 18, 1992). "Public Disclosures From the Private Life of Woody Allen". The New York Times.
  27. ^ Klepp, L.S. (February 18, 2000). "The Unruly Life of Woody Allen". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  28. ^ Swaine, Jon (October 2, 2013). "Mia Farrow: Woody Allen's son Ronan 'possibly' Frank Sinatra's". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  29. ^ Weide, Robert B. (January 27, 2014). "The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  30. ^ Thurman, Judith (September 21, 2016). "Tour Woody Allen's English Country-Style Manhattan Townhouse". Architectural Digest. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  31. ^ "Mia Farrow on Soon-Yi: "She's estranged– and strange."". People. Retrieved January 2, 2021.