Karen Allen
Allen in 2017
Karen Jane Allen

(1951-10-05) October 5, 1951 (age 72)
Alma materFashion Institute of Technology
George Washington University
Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute
Years active1974–present
Known forRole of Marion Ravenwood in the Indiana Jones movies Raiders of the Lost Ark
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Dial of Destiny
(m. 1988; div. 1998)

Karen Jane Allen (born October 5, 1951)[1] is an American film and stage actress. She made her film debut in the comedy film Animal House (1978), which was soon followed by a small role in Woody Allen's romantic comedy-drama Manhattan (1979) and a co-lead role in Philip Kaufman's coming-of-age film The Wanderers (1979), before co-starring opposite Al Pacino in William Friedkin's crime thriller Cruising (1980).

Her critical and commercial breakthrough came when she portrayed Marion Ravenwood opposite Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), for which she won the Saturn Award for Best Actress. She later co-starred in Shoot the Moon (1982), Starman (1984), for which she was again nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Actress, and Scrooged (1988). She has also received recognition for her work in The Glass Menagerie (1987), Year by the Sea (2016), and Colewell (2019). She reprised her role as Marion Ravenwood in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023).

Early life

Allen was born on October 5, 1951, in Carrollton, Illinois,[2] to Ruth Patricia (née Howell) (1927–2020), a university professor, and Carroll Thompson Allen (1925–2015), an FBI agent.[3] She is of English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh descent.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

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 for two years.[7] Allen later ran a boutique on the University of Maryland campus[8] and spent time traveling through South and Central Asia.[4] She attended George Washington University and began to study and perform with the experimental company, the Washington Theatre Laboratory, in Washington, D.C.[7] In 1974, Allen joined Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts.[9] Three years later, she moved back to New York City and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute.[4]


Allen made her major film debut in 1978 in National Lampoon's Animal House.[10] Her next two film appearances were in The Wanderers, in 1979,[10] 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.[10] She had a small role as a television actor in Woody Allen's film Manhattan (1979), before being cast as the love interest of Al Pacino in William Friedkin's controversial film Cruising (1980).

Allen at the 2006 Dallas Comic Con

Her career-changing role came with the blockbuster movie Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), directed by Steven Spielberg, in which she played Marion Ravenwood, the love interest of Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). Allen won the Saturn Award for Best Actress for her performance.[11] After a few minor films, including leading roles in the dramatic thriller Split Image (1982),[10] 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 John Carpenter's science-fiction film Starman (1984).[10] The film was a critical success, and later spawned the short-lived Starman television series in 1986. Allen's performance in the film earned her another nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Actress.

Allen debuted on Broadway in the 1982 production The Monday After The Miracle.[12] In 1983, she played the lead in the off-Broadway play Extremities, a physically demanding role about a woman who turns the tables on a would-be rapist who attacks her.[12] 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.[13]

In 1988, Allen returned to the big screen as Bill Murray's long-lost love, Claire, in the Christmas comedy Scrooged.[10] While the film initially earned a mixed response from critics upon its release, it was a major box office success. The film has since earned a cult following and is regarded as a Christmas classic.[14] In 1990, she portrayed the doomed crew member Christa McAuliffe in the television movie Challenger,[10] based on the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Subsequently, she appeared in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992),[10] in a small supporting role in The Perfect Storm (2000) and In the Bedroom (2001). She made guest appearances on Law & Order (1996) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2001).[10] She also starred in the short-lived series The Road Home (1994),[10] and portrayed Dr. Clare Burton in the video game Ripper (1996).[10] In 2014 she played the role of Betty Lowe in "Unfinished Business",[10] the 13th episode of the 4th season of the CBS police procedural drama Blue Bloods.[10]

Allen reprised her best-known role as Marion Ravenwood for the 2008 sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,[10] 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. The film was a critical and commercial success.[15][16]

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.[17]

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 directed Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune for the Berkshire Theater Group.[18] In 2016, Allen made her movie directing debut with the short film, A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud., based on the short story by Carson McCullers.[19] It won the Best International Short at the Manchester Film Festival in March 2017.[20] Allen played the lead role in 2017's Year by the Sea, a film based on The New York Times bestselling memoir by Joan Anderson.[21]

Allen reprised her role as Marion Ravenwood one last time in 2023's Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.[22][10]

In 2024, she starred in Unsinkable: Titanic Untold as Nancy Smith, the wife of U.S. Senator William Alden Smith.

Personal life

Allen at the Chiller Theatre Expo in 2013

In 1988, Allen married actor Kale Browne and had a son, Nicholas, in 1990. The couple divorced in 1998.[23] Following the birth of her son, Allen accepted smaller roles in TV and films to concentrate on raising Nicholas.[17] Nicholas went on to become a personal chef and win a Chopped competition on the Food Network, aired December 22, 2016.[24][25][26]

She developed an affinity for knitting, and in 2003 started her own textile company, Karen Allen Fiber Arts, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The company has a store in Great Barrington that sells items Allen knits with a Japanese-made knitting machine[18] as well as other products made by compatible designers. For her work in the textile arts, she was awarded an honorary master's degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2009.[27] Allen also teaches acting at Bard College at Simon's Rock, located in Great Barrington.[28]

As of July 2015, Allen lives in Massachusetts.[18] She also works as a stage director.[17]


Year Title Role
1978 National Lampoon's Animal House Katy
1979 Manhattan Television Actor No. 2
The Wanderers Nina
1980 Cruising Nancy Gates
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
1991 Sweet Talker Julie Maguire
1992 The Turning Glory Lawson
Malcolm X Miss Dunne
1993 The Sandlot Mrs. Smalls
King of the Hill Miss Mathey
Ghost in the Machine Terry Munroe
1996 Ripper[note 1] Dr. Claire Burton
1997 'Til There Was You Betty Dawkan
1998 Falling Sky Resse Nicholson
2000 The Basket Bessie Emery
Wind River Martha
The Perfect Storm Melissa Brown
2001 World Traveler Delores
In the Bedroom Marla Keyes
2003 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
2010 White Irish Drinkers Margaret
2015 Bad Hurt Elaine Kendall
2016 Year by the Sea Joan Anderson
2019 Colewell Nora Pancowski
2021 Things Heard & Seen Mare Laughton
2022 A Stage of Twilight Cora
2023 Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Marion Ravenwood
2024 Unsinkable Nancy Smith
Year Title Role Notes
1978 Lovey: A Circle of Children, Part II Elizabeth Television film
1979 Knots Landing Annie Episode: "Pilot"
1981 East of Eden Abra Episode: "Part Three"
1986 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Jackie Foster Episode: "The Creeper"
1990 Challenger Christa McAuliffe Television film
Secret Weapon Ruth Television film
1993 Rapture Georgianne Corcoran Television film
Voyage Catherine "Kit" Norvell Television film
1994 The Road Home Alison Matson 6 episodes
1996 Hostile Advances: The Kerry Ellison Story Margaret Television film
Law & Order Judith Sandler Episode: "Survivor"
1997 All the Winters That Have Been Helen Raven Television film
2001 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Paula Varney Episode: "Scourge"
My Horrible Year! Belinda Faulkner Television film
Shaka Zulu: The Citadel Katherine Farewell Television film
2009 A Dog Year Paula (voice) Television film
2010 November Christmas Claire Television film
2012 The Tin Star Eliza Flynn Television film
2014 Blue Bloods Betty Lowe Episode: "Unfinished Business"
2020 50 States of Fright Sheriff Stallings 3 episodes
2022 The Last Movie Stars Frances Woodward (voice) 3 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Awards Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1981 Saturn Awards Best Actress Raiders of the Lost Ark Won [11][29]
1983 Theatre World Award Outstanding New York City Stage Debut Performance Monday After the Miracle Won [30][31]
1984 Saturn Awards Best Actress Starman Nominated [32][29]
1988 3rd Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female The Glass Menagerie Nominated [33][29]
1990 Sant Jordi Awards Best Foreign Actress Nominated [31][29]
2009 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Best Grownup Love Story (Over 50's) (Shared with Harrison Ford) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Nominated [34][29]
2016 Hamilton International Film Festival Best Actress Year by the Sea Won [35][29]
2020 35th Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead Colewell Nominated [33][29]
Chlotrudis Awards Best Actress Nominated [36][29]
2022 Woods Hole Film Festival Awards Best Performance in a Feature film (Adult): A Stage of Twilight Shared with William Sadler Won [37][29]

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ An interactive movie point-and-click adventure game


  1. ^ Lukanic, Steven A (1993). Film Actors Guide. Lone Eagle Publ. p. 37. ISBN 9780943728384.
  2. ^ "City of Carrollton, Illinois". Archived from the original on December 9, 2020. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  3. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b c Wloszczyna, Susan (September 15, 2010). "Allen and Riegert tend to the 'White Irish Drinkers'". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 3, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  5. ^ Herman, Arthur. "Karen Allen Balances Tame, Sexy Roles". United Press International. May 22, 1987.
  6. ^ Labrecque, Jeff. "Karen Allen in 'Indiana Jones': The Girl Who Almost Got Away". Entertainment Weekly. September 18, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  7. ^ a b "About – Karen Allen". karenallen-actor-director.com. Karen Allen. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  8. ^ "Karen Allen: The Girl Next Door". The Telegraph. Google News. July 22, 1981. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  9. ^ Eaker, Sherry. The Back Stage Handbook for Performing Artists. New York: Back Stage Books, 1995, p. 78.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Karen Allen Credits". TV Guide. Retrieved July 6, 2023.
  11. ^ a b "List of Best Actress Saturn Award winners". Archived from the original on December 19, 2008.
  12. ^ a b Barton, Chris (August 21, 2012). "'Indiana Jones' Star Karen Allen Heads for the Stage". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam; Jones, Kenneth (October 10, 2012). "Karen Allen and Samantha Soule Share 'A Summer Day' Off-Broadway Beginning Oct. 10". Playbill. New York City: Playbill, Inc.
  14. ^ Harvilla, Rob (November 23, 2018). "'Scrooged' Is Still the Perfect Christmas Movie 30 Years Later". The Ringer. Archived from the original on November 24, 2018. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  15. ^ "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on February 1, 2009. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  16. ^ "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on April 14, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  17. ^ a b c Kozinn, Allan (October 22, 2012). "Karen Allen Returns in 'Summer Day' at Cherry Lane Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  18. ^ a b c Shaw, Dan (July 31, 2015). "Karen Allen at Home in the Berkshires". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  19. ^ Shanahan, Mark (July 28, 2017). "'Raiders' actress Karen Allen brings directorial debut to Woods Hole Film Fest". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  20. ^ Monsky, Ronni (May 31, 2017). "The Berkshire International Film Festival opens this week: 80 films from 23 countries in 4 days". The Berkshire Edge. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  21. ^ Burr, Ty (September 21, 2017). "Karen Allen is the one true thing in 'Year by the Sea'". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  22. ^ "Karen Allen Picture, Profile, Gossip, and News". CelebrityWonder.com. Archived from the original on November 29, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  23. ^ Brownfield, Paul. "Hello, Karen? It's Steven..." Los Angeles Times. May 18, 2008.
  24. ^ "Nicholas Browne, Chef". Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved October 1, 2019 – via Facebook.
  25. ^ ""Chopped" Winner Seeks Funding for Massachusetts Cidery". Cider Culture. January 3, 2017. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  26. ^ "Can you afford a personal celebrity chef? You might be surprised". TownVibe. April 30, 2019. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  27. ^ "Annie Leibovitz to Give Keynote Address". Fashion Institute of Technology. May 14, 2009. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  28. ^ "Karen Allen. Expertise: Performing Arts." Archived June 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Media Toolkit. Bard College at Simon's Rock. 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Karen Allen Awards". imdb.com (Index source only). Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  30. ^ "Theatre World Award Past Recipients". theatreworldawards.org. October 17, 2006.
  31. ^ a b "Karen Allen, "Marion Ravenwood"". abc7chicago.com. September 25, 2009.
  32. ^ "Past Winners Database – 1984 12th Saturn Awards Awards". Los Angeles Times. October 17, 2006. Archived from the original on October 17, 2006.
  33. ^ a b "Film Independent Spirit Awards 36 Years of Nominees and Winners" (PDF). filmindependent.org. 2021.
  34. ^ "Movies for Grownups Awards 2009". aarp.org. 2009.
  35. ^ "Hamilton International Film Festival Awards Archive". hamiltonfilmfestival.com. 2017. Archived from the original on March 4, 2021.
  36. ^ "2020, 26th Annual Chlotrudis Awards". chlotrudis.org. 2020.
  37. ^ "Woods Hole Film Festival 32 – 2022 Festival Audience and Director's Choice Awards". woodsholefilmfestival.org. 2022.