October 5, 1951
Karen Allen [Karen Jane Allen] and her two sisters moved around a lot with their FBI agent father, and school teacher mother, eventually settling in Washington, D.C. Always feeling like the new kid on the block, and lacking direction upon graduating from DuVal High School in Glenndale, Maryland, Karen floundered for a while when it came to ambition. She studied design in New York, ran a boutique, wrote short stories, and lived alone in Jamaica for five months. It was around the time she was twenty that she saw a performance by Grotowski's Polish Theatre Lab and was transfixed by the art of acting. She suddenly knew what she wanted to do. With this new goal in hand, she enrolled at the Actors Studio in New York, studying under Lee Strasberg. During this period she made several student films, as well as directed and acted in several plays.
In 1978 Karen won a small role in the play Saint, and toured with it for six months in England and Scotland. During this same year, she suffered with temporary blindness caused by Kerato Conjunctivitis. However, she put the unfortunate experience to good use, playing a blind woman in both stage productions of Monday Before The Miracle and The Miracle Worker.
Karen's first major film role came as Katy in 1978's National Lampoon's Animal House, which became one of the biggest hits of the year. A few smaller films followed until her big break came when director Steven Spielberg selected her for the role of fiesty Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark opposite Harrison Ford.
Voted one of the most beautiful women in the world by the readers of Harpers Bazaar in 1983, the spunky and likeable Karen Allen seemed to have it made by Hollywood standards, but this serious thespian had other plans; she wanted to keep some of her focus on the stage. This would prove to be a choice that would take her out of the commerical mainstream with much smaller films as Split Image, Shoot The Moon and the mini-series East Of Eden. It wasn't until her turn in the highly popular romantic sci-fi drama Starman opposite Jeff Bridges, that she once again rekindled interest in both fans and critics. As before, work continued to be steady, but once again Karen seemed to disappear off the Hollywood radar, appearing mostly in small films and supporting roles. This went on for a number of years until the year 2000 saw her commercial re-emergence as an imperiled boater in the megahit The Perfect Storm, alongside George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Diane Lane. Whatever her plans, fans can be sure that Karen Allen has staying power.
When she isn't before the camera or on the stage, Karen writes plays, screenplays and poetry, and spends time with her son, Nicholas, whom she had with Kale Browne. They were married in 1988 but later divorced in 1997.
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