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Karen Allen

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Title: Karen Allen  
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Subject: Starman (film), Raiders of the Lost Ark, Split Image (film), Cruising (film), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Collection: 1951 Births, 20Th-Century American Actresses, 21St-Century American Actresses, Actresses from Illinois, American Film Actresses, American People of English Descent, American People of Irish Descent, American People of Scottish Descent, American People of Welsh Descent, American Stage Actresses, American Video Game Actresses, Bard College at Simon's Rock Faculty, Fashion Institute of Technology Alumni, Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute Alumni, Living People, People from Greene County, Illinois, University of Maryland, College Park Alumni, Yogis
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Karen Allen

Karen Allen
Born Karen Jane Allen
(1951-10-05) October 5, 1951
Carrollton, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Kale Browne (m. 1988; div. 1998)
Children 1

Karen Jane Allen (born October 5, 1951) is an American actress. She played Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).[1] Allen has also had roles in films such as National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), The Wanderers (1979), Cruising (1980), Shoot the Moon (1982), Starman (1984), Scrooged (1988), The Sandlot (1993), The Perfect Storm (2000) and Poster Boy (2004).


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Allen was born in Carrollton, in rural western Illinois, the daughter of Patricia Allen (née Howell), a teacher, and Carroll Thompson Allen, an FBI agent.[2] She is of English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh descent.[3] Her father's job forced the family to move often. "I grew up moving almost every year and so I was always the new kid in school and always in a way was deprived of ever really having any lasting friendships", Allen said in 1987.[4] Although Allen says her father was very much involved in the family, she felt that she and her two sisters grew up in a very female-dominated household.[5] After she graduated from DuVal High School, in Lanham, Maryland, at 17, she moved to New York City to study art and design at Fashion Institute of Technology.[6] She later attended the University of Maryland, College Park for a year and a half,[6] and spent time traveling through South and Central America.[3] In 1974, Allen joined Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts.[7] Three years later, she moved back to New York City and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute.[3]


Allen made her major film debut in 1978, in National Lampoon's Animal House. Her next two film appearances were in The Wanderers, in 1979, and A Small Circle of Friends in 1980, where she played one of three radical college students during the 1960s. She also appeared (as a guest star) in the 1979 pilot episode of the long-running CBS series Knots Landing and played Annie Fairgate, the daughter of Don Murray's character Sid Fairgate and Sid's first wife Susan Philby.

Allen at the 2006 Dallas Comic Con

Her career-changing role came with the blockbuster hit Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), directed by Steven Spielberg, in which she played the feisty heroine Marion Ravenwood, love interest of Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). Allen won a Saturn Award for Best Actress for her performance.[8] After a few minor films, including leading roles in the dramatic thriller Split Image (1982), directed by Ted Kotcheff and the Paris-set romantic drama Until September (1984), directed by Richard Marquand as well as other stage appearances, she co-starred with Jeff Bridges in the science fiction film Starman (1984).

Allen debuted on Broadway in the 1982 production The Monday After The Miracle.[9] In 1983, she played the lead in the off-Broadway play Extremities, a physically demanding role about a would-be rape victim who turns the tables on her attacker.[9] She often took breaks from movie roles to concentrate on stage acting; Allen appeared as Laura in the Paul Newman-directed film version of the Tennessee Williams play The Glass Menagerie, with John Malkovich and Joanne Woodward, in 1987.[10]

In 1988, Allen returned to the big screen as Bill Murray's long-lost love, Claire, in the Christmas comedy Scrooged. In 1990, she portrayed the doomed crew member Christa McAuliffe in the television movie Challenger, based on the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Subsequently, she appeared in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992), in a small supporting role in The Perfect Storm (2000) and In the Bedroom (2001). She made guest appearances on television's Law & Order (1996) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2001). She also starred in the short-lived series The Road Home (1994) and portrayed Dr. Clare Burton in the video game Ripper (1996).

Allen reprised her best-known role as Marion Ravenwood for the 2008 sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, in which she renews her relationship with Indiana Jones and reveals to him that they have a son named Henry Jones III, who named himself Mutt Williams, played by Shia LaBeouf.

Allen starred in the American premiere of Jon Fosse's A Summer Day at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City, which opened in October 2012.[11]

Allen has a long-standing relationship with the Berkshire Theater Group. It began in 1981, when she appeared in the play Two for the Seesaw at the Berkshire Theater Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She has also appeared in summer production of the nearby Williamstown Theater Festival. In August 2015, Allen began appearing in Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune for the Berkshire Theater Group.[12]

Personal life

Allen was married to singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop for a short time in the early 1980s. In 1988, Allen married actor Kale Browne and gave birth to a son, Nicholas, in 1990. The couple divorced in 1998.[13]

Following the birth of her son, Allen accepted smaller roles in TV and films in order to concentrate on raising Nicholas.[11] She developed an affinity for knitting, and in 2003 started her own textile company, Karen Allen Fiber Arts, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The company sells items Allen knits herself, using a Japanese-made knitting machine.[12] For her work in the textile arts, she was awarded an honorary master's degree from The Fashion Institute of Technology in 2009.[14] Allen also teaches acting at Bard College at Simon's Rock, located in Great Barrington.[15] She currently lives in Monterey, Massachusetts.[12] She also teaches yoga.[11]


Year Title Role
1978 National Lampoon's Animal House Katy
1979 The Wanderers Nina
1980 Cruising Nancy
A Small Circle of Friends Jessica Bloom
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Marion Ravenwood
1982 Shoot the Moon Sandy
Split Image Rebecca/Amy
1984 Until September Mo Alexander
Starman Jenny Hayden
1987 Terminus Gus
The Glass Menagerie Laura Wingfield
1988 Backfire Mara McAndrew
Scrooged Claire Phillips
1989 Animal Behavior Alex Bristow
1990 Challenger Christa McAuliffe
1991 Sweet Talker Julie Maguire
1992 The Turning Glory Lawson
Malcolm X Miss Dunne
1993 The Sandlot Scott's Mom
King of the Hill Miss Mathey
Voyage Catherine "Kit" Norvell
Ghost in the Machine Terry Munroe
1996 Hostile Advances: The Kerry Ellison Story Margaret
1997 'Til There Was You Betty Dawkan
All the Winters that Have Been (TV movie) Helen Raven
1998 Wind River Martha (Wilson)
Falling Sky Resse Nicholson
1999 The Basket Bessie Emery
2000 The Perfect Storm Melissa Brown
2001 In the Bedroom Marla Keyes
World Traveler Delores
Shaka Zulu: The Citadel / Shaka Zulu: The Last Great Warrior Katherine Farewell
2003 The Root
Briar Patch Butcher Lee
2004 Poster Boy Eunice Kray
When Will I Be Loved Alexandra Barrie
2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Marion Ravenwood
2009 A Dog Year Paula (voice)
2010 White Irish Drinkers Margaret
2010 November Christmas Claire
2011 I Am Number Four Sam's Mom (scenes not used in final cut)


  1. ^ "Karen Allen Picture, Profile, Gossip, and News". Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  2. ^ "Karen Allen Biography (1951–)". Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  3. ^ a b c Wloszczyna, Susan (2010-09-15). "'"Allen and Riegert tend to the 'White Irish Drinkers.  
  4. ^ Herman, Arthur. "Karen Allen Balances Tame, Sexy Roles". United Press International. May 22, 1987.
  5. ^ Labrecque, Jeff. "Karen Allen in 'Indiana Jones': The Girl Who Almost Got Away". Entertainment Weekly. September 18, 2012. Accessed 2012-10-22.
  6. ^ a b "Karen Allen: The Girl Next Door". Nashua Telegraph. July 22, 1981, p. 38. Accessed 2012-10-22.
  7. ^ Eaker, Sherry. The Back Stage Handbook for Performing Artists. New York: Back Stage Books, 1995, p. 78.
  8. ^ List of Best Actress Saturn Award winners
  9. ^ a b Barton, Chris. "'Indiana Jones' Star Karen Allen Heads for the Stage." Los Angeles Times. August 21, 2012.
  10. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Jones, Kenneth. "Karen Allen and Samantha Soule Share 'A Summer Day' Off-Broadway Beginning Oct. 10." Playbill. October 10, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c Kozinn, Allan. "A Lifetime of Regret, Born in a Moment". The New York Times. October 21, 2012. Accessed 2012-10-22.
  12. ^ a b c Shaw, Dan (July 31, 2015). "Karen Allen at Home in the Berkshires". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  13. ^ Brownfield, Paul. "Hello, Karen? It's Steven..." Los Angeles Times. May 18, 2008.
  14. ^ "Annie Leibovitz to Give Keynote Address". Fashion Institute of Technology. May 14, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Karen Allen. Expertise: Performing Arts." Media Toolkit. Bard College at Simon's Rock. 2012. Accessed 2012-10-22.

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