An Upper West Side stalwart, with a link to Woody Allen

Written by Daniel Fitzsimmons on . Posted in News West Side Spirit.


Ann Morris has lived in the same building on West End for over 40 years

It’s immediately apparent to anyone who visits Ann Morris’ West End Avenue apartment that she’s lived a full life. The walls are adorned with photographs from all over the world, some of them signed and presented by her photographer friends. A floor-to-ceiling bookshelf forms one wall. Trinkets and mementos are sprinkled throughout.

“Everything in this house tells a story,” said Morris, 84. For many years she traveled the world – Italy, Russia, Israel – writing children’s books for Scholastic, where she was an editor. She said her best-selling book was “Bread, Bread, Bread,” a simple ode to the joys of the cross-cultural food staple that showed how different people around the world make and use bread.

Woody Allen filmed portions of his 1992 movie “Husbands and Wives” in Morris’ apartment. On the wall is an antique wheel of fortune that can be seen in the movie’s trailer. Morris likes to tell the story of what Allen said to her when she asked if he wanted a tour of the apartment. “He said, ‘No, I’ll just come in and free-associate,’” said Morris.

Morris was born in Lenox Hill Hospital and lived for most of her life, when not traveling, on the Upper West Side, which she prefers over the Upper East Side because it’s more laid-back. She also enjoys the neighborhood for its diversity in people and religions. She’s a big fan of Zabar’s.

Although she doesn’t write books anymore, ideas for them constantly pop into her head. She doesn’t travel much anymore either because she lacks the energy. She does stay busy though, with visits to the Jewish Community Center, a private library she belongs to and the Y, as well as lunch dates and visits with friends. One wall in her office is covered with dozens of photographs of those she holds near and dear.

Morris never married, but she has family in New Jersey. She still keeps artifacts from her childhood, like a small cup she used as a child and a photo of her and her sister – who recently passed away – when they were very young.

In the mornings she wakes at 5 a.m., has a bit of toast and then some fruit about an hour later, before reading the Times when it’s delivered at 6:30 a.m. She ends her morning showers by standing under cold water, which she said invigorates her. The rest of her day is spent with whatever is on the schedule. When The West Side Spirit stopped by, she said she’s getting lunch with the director of an organization that works for peace between Israel and Palestine, an issue she feels strongly about.

Morris has written over a hundred books, and an entire closet in her apartment is filled with them. She likes to give them out when visiting schools and when strolling around the neighborhood.

So if you seen Ann Morris walking up and down West End Avenue, or over on Broadway, know that she’s the Block Mayor and ask her about the time Woody Allen free associated in her apartment.

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