Karen Allen

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Karen Allen
BornKaren Jane Allen
(1951-10-05) October 5, 1951 (age 63)
Carrollton, Illinois, U.S.
Years active1978–present
Spouse(s)Kale Browne (m. 1988; div. 1998)
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Karen Allen
BornKaren Jane Allen
(1951-10-05) October 5, 1951 (age 63)
Carrollton, Illinois, U.S.
Years active1978–present
Spouse(s)Kale Browne (m. 1988; div. 1998)

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), Starman (1984), Scrooged (1988), The Sandlot (1993), and Poster Boy (2004).

Early life[edit]

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, 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.

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]

Personal life[edit]

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.[12]

Following the birth of her son, she accepted smaller roles in TV and films in order to concentrate on raising Nicholas.[11] Given her affinity for knitting, in 2003, she started her own textile company, called "Karen Allen Fiber Arts", in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, for which she was awarded an honorary master's degree from The Fashion Institute of Technology, in its 2009 commencement exercises.[13] Allen also teaches acting at Bard College at Simon's Rock, located in Great Barrington.[14] She currently lives in Monterey, Massachusetts. She also teaches yoga.[11]


1978Animal HouseKaty
1979The WanderersNina
A Small Circle of FriendsJessica Bloom
1981Raiders of the Lost ArkMarion Ravenwood
1982Shoot the MoonSandy
Split ImageRebecca/Amy
1984Until SeptemberMo Alexander
StarmanJenny Hayden
The Glass MenagerieLaura Wingfield
1988BackfireMara McAndrew
ScroogedClaire Phillips
1989Animal BehaviorAlex Bristow
1990ChallengerChrista McAuliffe
1991Sweet TalkerJulie Maguire
1992The TurningGlory Lawson
Malcolm XMiss Dunne
1993The SandlotScott's Mom
King of the HillMiss Mathey
VoyageCatherine "Kit" Norvell
Ghost in the MachineTerry Munroe
1996Hostile Advances: The Kerry Ellison StoryMargaret
1997'Til There Was YouBetty Dawkan
All the Winters that Have Been (TV movie)Helen Raven
1998Wind RiverMartha (Wilson)
Falling SkyResse Nicholson
1999The BasketBessie Emery
2000The Perfect StormMelissa Brown
2001In the BedroomMarla Keyes
World TravelerDelores
Shaka Zulu: The Citadel / Shaka Zulu: The Last Great WarriorKatherine Farewell
2003The Root
Briar PatchButcher Lee
2004Poster BoyEunice Kray
When Will I Be LovedAlexandra Barrie
2008Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullMarion Ravenwood
2009A Dog YearPaula (voice)
2010White Irish DrinkersMargaret
2010November ChristmasClaire
2011I Am Number FourSam's Mom (scenes deleted)


  1. ^ "Karen Allen Picture, Profile, Gossip, and News". CelebrityWonder.com. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  2. ^ "Karen Allen Biography (1951–)". FilmReference.com. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  3. ^ a b c Wloszczyna, Susan (2010-09-15). "Allen and Riegert tend to the 'White Irish Drinkers'". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-09-15. 
  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. ^ Brownfield, Paul. "Hello, Karen? It's Steven..." Los Angeles Times. May 18, 2008.
  13. ^ "Annie Leibovitz to Give Keynote Address". Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "Karen Allen. Expertise: Performing Arts." Media Toolkit. Bard College at Simon's Rock. 2012. Accessed 2012-10-22.

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