Nobody - besides their mum - gets to choose who their dad is, and sometimes she’s a bit squishy on the details. Take Hollywood star Mia Farrow, who isn’t entirely certain whether her son Ronan Farrow is the child of writer, director, and comedian Woody Allen, or film star and singer Frank Sinatra. These are the vague moments that A-list celebrities struggle with. We’ve all been there, unable to remember if it was Bruce Willis or Tom Hanks who borrowed those Breaking Bad DVDs. Did Spielberg or Lucas lend you that private jet? Are these text messages about a possible pregnancy coming from Mila Kunis or Megan Fox? You’d know, but it’s your PA’s assistant’s day off today, and you just have too many phones to keep track of the numbers.
Ronan doesn’t make things any easier when it comes to getting to the bottom of this Hollywood mystery. He has the eyes of Ol’ Blue Eyes (his eyes are blue) and occasionally the wit of Woody Allen. In reaction to the mounting speculation over his paternity he tweeted “Listen, we're all *possibly* Frank Sinatra's son” which - damn it - is exactly the sort of dry humour we’d expect from the comic genius of Woody Allen.
If Ronan could choose who his father was, we might guess he wouldn’t go for the 23 time nominated and four time Academy Award winner who exists in the top handful of the greatest comic writers and performers of all time, and whose cinematic legacy will be as one of the all-time finest directors and screenwriters. This – from his public statements – has a great deal to do with the fact that Woody Allen is also legally his brother-in-law.
We know that Woody was never legally Soon-Yi Previn’s father, but she was legally Mia Farrow’s 19-year-old daughter when he (56) fell in love with her whilst in a relationship with Mia Farrow. It definitely wasn’t incest, but you can see why Ronan might be quite uncool with the way things panned out between his ‘dad' and his sister.
Next to that decade in therapy, what’s not to like about Frank Sinatra? Well, it seems likely that he spent a good deal of his time in the company of members of the Mafia, inspiring the character of Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather. Sinatra was 50 when he began his relationship with the 21-year-old Mia Farrow, was unfaithful to his wife, and his own children didn’t go to his bedside when he died, despite being nearby at the time.
Neither is going to win any parenting awards. Neither man’s legacy is one of family values or age-appropriate relationships, and yet both left their mark indelibly on American culture of the 20th Century. 'My Way' or Manhattan? 'Fly Me To The Moon' or Annie Hall? Given the scandal that has attracted itself to Sinatra and Allen, the choice – if there could be a choice – of who you’d rather claim as a forebear isn’t necessarily straightforward. Team Woody or Team Frank?
In the short term, the looks, glamour, and charm of Frank Sinatra make him the candidate to beat, but maybe you’re playing the longer game and looking for posterity and cultural impact. The depth of characterization in works like Blue Jasmine, the comic brilliance of Take The Money & Run, and the emotional power of Annie Hall make Woody the undisputed cultural choice.
It must be incalculably bizarre to have two such men possibly be your father. Both brilliant, one dead and the other you have longstanding issues with. Call it the Skywalker conundrum. There’s scant prospect that Woody Allen’s face will one day tenderly be removed by Ronan to reveal the ancient, crippled visage of Sinatra himself. Having a famous father might open a few doors, but in this case it must also be an unenviable torment.