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Karen Jane Allen (born October 5, 1951) is an Americanmarker actress, best known for her role as Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). Allen has also had roles in films including National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), The Wanderers (1979), Split Image (1982), Starman (1984), Scrooged (1988), The Sandlot (1993), and Poster Boy (2004).


Early life

Allen was born in Carrolltonmarker, rural western Illinoismarker, the daughter of Patricia Allen (née Howell), a teacher, and Carroll Thompson Allen, an FBImarker agent. Allen spent her first 10 years traveling around the country with her parents and two sisters. After graduating from DuVal Senior High School, in Glenn Dale, Marylandmarker at 17, she moved to New York City to study art and design at Fashion Institute of Technologymarker. She later attended the University of Maryland, College Parkmarker and spent time traveling through South and Central America. In 1974, Allen joined Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts and three years later moved back to New York City and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute.


In 1978, Allen made her major film debut 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 playing Annie Fairgate, daughter of Don Murray's character Sid Fairgate; ironically, her future husband would play her cousin Paul Fairgate in the second season, and both appeared in only one episode of the series but their characters never met.

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. After a few minor films, including the leading role in the Paris-set romantic drama Until September (1984), directed by Richard Marquand, and other stage appearances, she co-starred with Jeff Bridges in the science-fiction film Starman (1984).

Allen debuted on Broadwaymarker in the 1982 production The Monday After The Miracle. 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. Other notable actresses who starred in this memorable play include Susan Sarandon and Farrah Fawcett. She often took breaks from movie roles to concentrate on stage acting, although 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.

In 1988 Karen 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 controversial television movie Challenger, based on the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Later she subsequently 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 had 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 Mutt Williams, played by Shia LaBeouf.

Personal life

In 1988, Allen married actor Kale Browne, who portrayed Christa McAuliffe's husband Steven in Challenger, and gave birth to a son Nicholas in 1990. The couple divorced in 1998.

After giving birth, Allen accepted smaller roles in TV and films in order to concentrate on raising Nicholas. Given her affinity for knitting, in 2003 she started her own textile company, "Karen Allen Fiber Arts", in Great Barrington, Massachusettsmarker, for which she was given an honorary master's degree from The Fashion Institute of Technologymarker in their 2009 Commencement Exercises. She also teaches acting at Bard College at Simon's Rock, which is located in Great Barrington. She currently lives in Monterey, Massachusetts. She also teaches yoga.


  1. Karen Allen Picture, Profile, Gossip, and News at
  2. Karen Allen Biography (1951-)
  3. Simon's Rock press release "Adjunct Faculty Member Karen Allen Appears in New Indiana Jones Film And Also Voices Mrs .Gorf On Wayside"

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