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Woody Allen's secret teen lover reveals 8-year affair with filmmaker

Christina Engelhardt says the Mariel Hemingway character in

Christina Engelhardt says the Mariel Hemingway character in Allen's "Manhattan" (1979) was party based on her. Credit: WireImage for Hollywood Reporter / Amy Graves

A former aspiring model says that she had a clandestine eight-year relationship with filmmaker Woody Allen that began when she was 16 in 1976.

Christina Engelhardt, 59, says in the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter that in October 1976 she was two months from turning 17, the age of consent in New York State, when she had dropped a note with her phone number onto the writer-director’s table at the Upper East Side restaurant and literary salon Elaine's. Allen, then 41, called the teen and the two soon became intimate, with her New Jersey family being aware of the relationship.

"What made me speak is I thought I could provide a perspective," Engelhardt, then known as Babi Christina Engelhardt, told the magazine. "I'm not attacking Woody," she said. "This is not 'bring down this man.' I'm talking about my love story. This made me who I am. I have no regrets." Calling his wit "magnetic," she said, "It was why I liked him and why I'm still impressed with him as an artist."

Now living in Beverly Hills, California, and working as an assistant to producer Robert Evans (1974's "Chinatown," 1980's "Urban Cowboy") after globe-trotting adventures that included being what the magazine called "a platonic muse" to legendary director Federico Fellini, Engelhardt said that she and Allen would meet solely at his Fifth Avenue penthouse.

Engelhardt become disillusioned with the nature of the relationship when Allen introduced her to his new girlfriend, actress Mia Farrow. "I felt sick," Engelhardt wrote in her two-volume unpublished memoirs. "I didn't want to be there at all, and yet I couldn't find the courage to get up and leave. To leave would mean an end to all of this. Looking back now, that's exactly what I needed, but back then, the idea of not having Woody in my life at all terrified me."

A representative for Allen, 83, was traveling internationally and could not be reached.

Engelhardt — who says that she is part of the composite making up the teenage sophisticate Tracy played by Mariel Hemingway in Allen's 1979 film "Manhattan" — told the magazine that Allen lately has appeared in her dreams.

"I used to dream of making love to Woody," she said. "Now I'm dreaming of him dying in my arms."

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