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Karen Jane Allen (born October 5, 1951) is an American actress, who is 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), Cruising (1980), Starman (1984), Scrooged (1988), The Sandlot (1993), and Poster Boy (2004).
Allen was born in Carrollton, rural western Illinois, the daughter of Patricia Allen (née Howell), a teacher, and Carroll Thompson Allen, an FBI agent. She is of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh descent. Allen spent her first 10 years traveling around the country with her parents and two sisters. After she graduated from DuVal Senior High School, in Lanham, Maryland, at 17, she moved to New York City to study art and design at Fashion Institute of Technology. She later attended the University of Maryland, College Park, 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 and played Annie Fairgate, the daughter of Don Murray's character Sid Fairgate; coincidentally, 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.