Karen Allen might be most recognizable for her part as Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but she’s had such an illustrious and successful career it’s hard to put it all into one article! With Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny set to release, what has Marion been up to in the meantime since making her breakout role?
In the fall of 1951, Karen was born in Carrollton, Illinois to a university professor mother and FBI agent father. Naturally, her childhood wasn’t settled, and she would move around with her family and father’s job almost once a year for most of her young life.
She would finally graduate in Maryland before moving to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology.
She would travel for quite a time after between the states, as well as trekking across Asia before returning to America and taking up acting.
Animals and Raiders
Her first major film role would be part of a film that was a cult classic of the decades to come, National Lampoon comedy Animal House.
Karen Allen would play Katy opposite John Belushi’s party animal lead that was, by all accounts, just John Belushi being himself. She would become just one of many actors and actresses to break out of the film, though it would still take her a few years of jumping roles in television and indie films, even being considered for the part of Princess Leia in Star Wars before Carrie Fisher was cast.
Now she was able to follow up on another film made by fresh on-the-scene powerhouses George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was the team-up between two recent giants of science fiction, with Lucas being fresh off of Star Wars and Spielberg bringing the terror he had established with Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Marion made her moves, securing the role of Marion and with it the legacy as Indiana Jones’ best leading lady.
Razor sharp wit and the ability to deal with the ever-grouchy and sardonic Harrison Ford almost on the level of Carrie Fisher at the time, Karen would become a powerhouse of the eighties.
Moving from sci-fi classics like Starman into Bill Murray comedy Scrooged would keep her in the eyes of audiences throughout the eighties, moving her into a position to take over the world by the time 1990 brought on the new decade.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t go completely as planned, with a couple of flops before hitting stride once more in 1992 with Malcolm X, pivoting into other roles including The Sandlot and severely underrated Stephen Soderbergh classic King of the Hill the following year.
Things would slump again after, with roles in low-budget horror Ghost in the Machine and a foray into FMV video games with Ripper.
Mostly she would take a step back in the 90s to spend more time with her son, born in 1990 with her husband Kale Brown whom she married in 1988.
Unfortunately, the couple would split in 1998, with Karen Allen remaining single since. Her son has gone on to his own fame as a chef in Food Network competitions.
Karen meanwhile has dipped her feet into the realm of design and knitting, even forming her own fabric company and selling yarn.
Return to the Classic
Even between all of that Karen continued acting, though took a step back from major studio productions and instead into mostly indie and short films as well as the occasional guest role after ushering in the new millennium with the 2000s disaster The Perfect Storm.
She would eventually make her way back to blockbuster film with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008, and everyone remembers how that went.
Roles would start to slow during the 2010s, with Karen Allen deciding to take it more easy in her later years and instead only act occasionally in indie films or guest roles on procedurals like Blue Bloods in more sporadic bursts of acting.
She would also take up teaching acting the same year at Bard’s College in Massachusetts, where she still lives and works today.
What is Karen Allen doing now?
Not to say she’s stayed entirely away from film though, with Netflix thriller Things Heard and Seen making a decent watch and an appearance on the unfortunately Quibi placed 50 States of Fright in 2020.
This year she’s returned to the franchise that made her famous in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which will finally bring another role Harrison Ford has wanted out of for decades to an end.
She has projects in the works still as well, with two in production for a 2024 release.
For now, she continues to live a peaceful life in Massachusetts, now older and content to enjoy her later years in peace, doing what she loves.