Karen Allen Biography
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Karen Jane Allen
Born Country: United States
Born in: Carrollton, Illinois, United States
Famous as: Actress
Spouse/Ex-: Kale Browne (m. 1988 - div. 1998)
father: Carroll Thompson Allen
mother: Patricia Howell Allen
children: Nicholas Browne
U.S. State: Illinois
education: DuVal High School, Fashion Institute of Technology, George Washington University, Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute
Karen Allen is an American actress best known for starring in films such as ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.’ Karen was born in Naperville, Illinois, to Ruth Patricia and Carroll Thompson Allen. Her father was an FBI agent and hence, his job had him moving to different cities around the country with his family. Karen said that while she was a kid, their family changed cities every year. She eventually completed her high school graduation from Maryland. The thought of becoming an actor did not cross her mind until much later. She studied art and design in college. However, she attended a play which inspired her to pursue acting. She enrolled into Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and trained herself in acting, eventually making her screen debut in 1978’s film titled ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House.’ She came to international prominence after starring as Marion Ravenwood in the action adventure film titled ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ She followed with lead roles in the ‘Challenger,’ ‘Scrooged’ and ‘The Turning.’
- Karen Allen was born Karen Jane Allen, on October 5, 1951, in Naperville, Illinois, to Ruth Patricia and Carroll Thompson Allen. She grew up as one among three children in the family and had two sisters growing up. Her mother worked as a university professor while her father was an FBI agent.
- Due to her father’s job, Karen kept moving around with her family quite a lot. Karen stated that they hardly stayed one year at one city, due to which she kept changing her schools. And this also resulted in her having very few friends while she was growing up as she had to make new friends everywhere she went.
- Although her father was present most times and took good care of the household, it was a female dominated house. It further helped her turning into a strong and independent woman.
- She had not thought about a career in acting until she was in her early 20s. However, she did want to pursue fashion. She completed her high school graduation from DuVal High School in Maryland when she was 17 years old.
- Following that, she moved to New York City and enrolled into the Fashion Institute of Technology to pursue art and design. She ran her very own boutique on the campus of Maryland University. She also travelled around quite a lot during those years.
- She had not thought about a career in acting until she was in her early 20s. She watched a Jerzy Grotowski theater production in New York and that’s when she decided to try acting. Something clicked inside her and she began her training in drama. She further enrolled into Lee Strasberg Theatre institute to study acting and graduated. She also began auditioning for roles in films and television.
- Before she pursued acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre institute, she also trained herself further, joining the Washington Theatre Laboratory in Washington D.C. while studying at the George Washington University. In the mid-1970s, she moved to Massachusetts and joined Shakespeare & Company there, appearing in many plays.
- In 1978, she made her on-screen debut playing a supporting role as Katy in the film titled ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ (aka ‘Animal House’). The film turned out to be a major critical and commercial success and hence, Karen was off to a great start into the industry.
- Over the next few years, she consistently appeared playing major roles in films such as ‘Manhattan,’ ‘The Wanderers’ and ‘Cruising.’ Most of those films starred well known Hollywood actors such as Al Pacino and Woody Allen. She thus quickly climbed the ladders of success in Hollywood with smart role choices and some luck.
- She has her huge career breakthrough in 1981 when she appeared playing the lead role as Marion Ravenwood in the Steven Spielberg directed action-adventure film titled ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ The film turned out to be one of the most critically and commercially acclaimed films of the year, winning major accolades from global audience. Karen became one among the top Hollywood stars following the huge success of the film.
- She immediately followed it with a key role in the drama film titled ‘Shoot the Moon,’ which was released in 1982. The film was a commercial failure but a critical success.
- In the next few years, Karen carried on with her acting career playing lead/major roles in films such as ‘Split Image,’ ‘Starman’ and ‘Until September.’ 1980s turned out to be the best decade of her career as she regularly appeared with the best Hollywood filmmakers in some hugely acclaimed films.
- While she enjoyed a steadily successful film acting career, she also gave enough attention to her stage career as well. In-fact, she took regular breaks from films to appear on-stage.
- She made her Broadway debut in 1982 with the play titled ‘The Monday After The Miracle.’ In the next year, she appeared playing the lead role as a rape survivor in the Off-Broadway show titled ‘Extremities.’
- In 1992, she appeared playing a supporting role as Miss Dunne in the Spike Lee directed controversial film titled ‘Malcolm X.’ The film was although a very moderate commercial success, it was a big critical one and it is still known as one of the greatest American biographical films.
- In 1993 alone, she appeared in five films back to back (two of them are TV movies). However, post the mid-1990s, her on-screen appearances sharply declined.
- In the early 2000s, she appeared playing major/supporting roles in many films such as ‘In the Bedroom’ and ‘World Traveler.’ Slowly but steadily, the quality of roles she got offered began declining.
- After playing the lead role in the 2004 film titled ‘Poster Boy,’ she reprised her role of Marion Ravenwood in the 2008 film ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.’ The film received strong reviews and Karen thus delivered her only major hit film in many years.
- In the more recent years, she has appeared in films such as ‘Bad Hurt’ and ‘Year by the Sea.’
- Karen Allen dated actor Kale Browne for some time before marrying him in 1988. She gave birth to a boy named Nicholas, born in 1990. Karen and Kale got divorced in 1998.
- Karen had a thriving acting career in the 1980s. Following the birth of her son, she accepted smaller roles and did fewer films to take care of her son.
- She has also started her own textile company called Karen Allen Fiber Arts.
- She does yoga regularly and also gives classes for the same.
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