August 20, 1956
Joan Allen may not be a household name, but she certainly has made her mark on the acting community with numerous performances on stage, film and television. Born in Rochelle, Joan and three older siblings were raised by parents, Jeff [a gas station owner] and Dorothy [a stay-at-home mom]. She attended Rochelle Township High School where she was voted most likely to succeed, and for a time was part of the cheerleading squad. It was also where she was exposed to her first taste of the thespian way, when at fourteen she auditioned for a part in the school play, Once Upon A Playground, and won the role of "the girl with braces". From high school she went on to attend both Eastern and Northern Illinois University, focusing her attention on the performing arts, but left a couple of classes short of a degree.
A true thespian at heart, Joan was one of the founding members, along with John Malkovich, of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble troupe that went on to produce such talents as Gary Sinise and Laurie Metcalf to name a few. Joan remains a member of the club, although she is not as active as she would like to be due to her hectic schedule.
She debuted on Broadway in 1983 in And A Nightingale Sang, and it was during this time that she met her future husband, Peter Friedman. Listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1986" in John Willis' Screen World, the five-foot-ten Allen, not only received high praises from both critics and peers alike with her turn in the play Burn This, but also won a Tony in the process.
Listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1986" in John Willis' Screen World, Joan's biggest transitional hurdle into the movies, according to her Premiere interview, was understanding how to get into the state she needed in order to perform with a camera and crew. Regardless of her trepidations, since her film debut in 1983, it has been a non-stop
ride that has delighted both peers and audiences alike.
Joan got married to Peter Friedman in 1990, but are now divorced. They have one daughter, Sadie.
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