Nancy Allen (actress)

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Nancy Allen
Allen promoting Strange Invaders, in 1983
Nancy Anne Allen

(1950-06-24) June 24, 1950 (age 68)
EducationHigh School of Performing Arts
Alma materJose Quintano's School for Young Professionals
Years active1962–2003, 2008
Notable work
Christine "Chris" Hargensen in Stephen King's Carrie (1976)
Liz Blake in Dressed to Kill (1980)
Officer Anne Lewis in RoboCop (1987)
Brian De Palma
(m. 1979; div. 1984)

Craig Shoemaker
(m. 1992; div. 1993)

Randy Bailey
(m. 1998; div. 2007)
Partner(s)Michael Paré (1984–1985)

Nancy Anne Allen (born June 24, 1950) is an American actress and anti-cancer activist best known for her roles in the films Carrie (1976), RoboCop (1987), and Dressed to Kill (1980), the last of which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

Allen began an acting and modeling career as a child, and from the mid-1970s appeared in small film roles, most notably the anchor of Robert Zemeckis' ensemble comedy I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978) and in Steven Spielberg's 1979 comedy 1941. A pivotal supporting role in Carrie (1976) brought her recognition, and after marrying the director Brian De Palma, she appeared in several of his films, including Dressed to Kill (1980) and Blow Out (1981). Her subsequent films include Strange Invaders (1983), The Philadelphia Experiment (1984), Poltergeist III (1988), Limit Up (1990), the RoboCop trilogy (1987–1993) and Out of Sight (1998).

Early life[edit]

Nancy Anne Allen was born on Saturday, June 24, 1950, in New York City, the youngest of three children of Eugene and Florence Allen. Her father was a police lieutenant in Yonkers,[1] where she was raised.

Allen was very shy as a child, so her mother enrolled her in dance classes when she was four. She attended the High School of Performing Arts, where she trained for a dancing career, and then attended Jose Quintano's School for Young Professionals.

Film career[edit]

Allen's first major film role was very small, playing Nancy, Jack Nicholson's nervous date, in The Last Detail (1973). This inspired her to move to Los Angeles to continue her acting career.[2] She scored the role of the spoiled and popular mean girl Christine Hargensen in director Brian De Palma's horror film Carrie (1976) opposite Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, and John Travolta, as the title character's chief nemesis.

Allen next appeared in the role of Pam Mitchell in Steven Spielberg's production of I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978), which was director Robert Zemeckis's first feature film. She then played Donna Stratton in another Spielberg film, the high-profile comedy 1941 (1979) opposite Tim Matheson, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and John Candy.

She married director Brian De Palma on January 12, 1979, and for the next few years appeared in his films. She starred as Kristina in Home Movies (1980) with Kirk Douglas, as Liz Blake in Dressed to Kill (1980) with Michael Caine and Angie Dickinson, and as Sally Bedina in Blow Out (1981) with John Travolta. In filming the latter, she had to overcome a lifelong fear of being trapped in a submerged car filling with water.[3]

For her role as Liz Blake, a prosperous call girl who dabbles in the stock market in the thriller Dressed to Kill, Allen was nominated for a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture – Female.

In 1983, Allen starred as supermarket tabloid reporter Betty Walker in Strange Invaders, written by Bill Condon and co-starring Paul LeMat and Michael Lerner.

She and De Palma divorced in 1984. That same year, two of Allen's films were released, The Buddy System opposite Richard Dreyfuss and Susan Sarandon and The Philadelphia Experiment opposite Michael Paré. For her role in the latter, Allen was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actress. She also hosted the documentary Terror in the Aisles (1984), which presents clips from various horror features, including Dressed to Kill and Carrie. Paul Bartel's Not for Publication and Sweet Revenge, an action caper about white slavery with Gina Gershon and Martin Landau, followed thereafter.

RoboCop era[edit]

Allen played police officer Anne Lewis in the science fiction/action classic RoboCop (1987) opposite Peter Weller in the title role. The film, which was the Hollywood debut of Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, did extremely well at the box office. Allen was nominated for another Saturn Award for Best Actress.

After the success of RoboCop, Allen starred in Abel Ferrara's The Gladiator (1987) and as Patricia Wilson-Gardner in Poltergeist III (1988) opposite Tom Skerritt, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Heather O'Rourke, who died before production was completed. Allen reprised her role as Officer Lewis in RoboCop 2 (1990) alongside Weller. To make her character tougher and more involved in the physical action, she studied martial arts and participated in police training. That same year, Allen top-lined Richard Martini's Limit Up. As commodities trader Casey Falls, Allen showcased her comedic abilities. The lighthearted romp also featured Danitra Vance and blues icon Ray Charles. In 1990, Allen also had the distinction of starring in the first ever original film made for the Lifetime television network, the highly rated Memories of Murder.[4]

She married comedian Craig Shoemaker on September 6, 1992. Allen played Officer Lewis a third time in RoboCop 3 (1993) and was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. For her third performance as the feisty cop, she worked to soften the usually tough-as-nails demeanor of the character: "You do your job and you become more confident with yourself. Therefore, you don't have to prove yourself to anyone and basically deny your womanhood. (It's) not a dirty word. It's actually an asset. And that's what I wanted to show – to loosen her up in that way." [5] The same year, Allen also appeared with Linda Fiorentino in Acting on Impulse. She and Shoemaker eventually divorced in 1994.

Later career[edit]

Allen has appeared in a number of documentaries about her most famous films, including Dressed to Kill, Carrie, Blow Out, the RoboCop trilogy, and Poltergeist III.

In 1994, she reteamed with Strange Invaders writer Bill Condon to star as psychic Jessie Gallardo opposite Roger Moore in the movie of the week The Man Who Wouldn't Die. She starred as Linda Savage in Quality Time in 1997, but the film was not released until 2008 due, in part, to post-production and renamed My Apocalypse. Builder/contractor Randy Bailey and she were married in June 1998.

She had a small but notable role as Midge in the crime thriller Out of Sight (1998) starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh. She also played Rachel Colby in the horror film Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return and Madge in the comedy-thriller Kiss Toledo Goodbye with Christopher Walken (both released in 1999). Secret of the Andes, an adventure story with David Keith and Jerry Stiller, was released in 2000.

Her television guest appearances include roles on Touched by an Angel, The Outer Limits, The Commish, Judging Amy, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

She and Bailey were divorced in 2007. As an environmentalist, Allen traded her Volvo automobile for a hybrid vehicle to set an example. She also became an activist against breast cancer.

In December 2010, Allen was named executive director of the weSPARK Cancer Support Center, which was founded by her longtime friend and I Wanna Hold Your Hand and 1941 co-star, actress Wendie Jo Sperber, and attended the annual Wendie Jo Sperber Celebrity Golf Classic. Of her work at weSpark, she said: "That is what I do. That is what my life is dedicated to. I'm there, I run it. I've created the whole program format and I fundraise. It is my life's work."[6]


Dial M For Murder (1995)[edit]

1995 Broadway production of the play by Frederick Knott, became the basis for the film of the same name. It starred John James as Tony Wendice, Nancy Allen as Margot and Roddy McDowall as Inspector Hubbard. It was run from September 26, 1995, to March 10, 1996, and directed by Edward Hastings.



Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Last Detail Nancy
1975 Forced Entry Hitchhiker
1976 Carrie Chris Hargensen
1978 I Wanna Hold Your Hand Pam Mitchell
1979 1941 Donna Stratton
1980 Home Movies Kristina
1980 Dressed to Kill Liz Blake Nominated—Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
1981 Blow Out Sally Bedina
1983 Strange Invaders Betty Walker
1984 The Buddy System Carrie
1984 Terror in the Aisles Herself
1984 The Philadelphia Experiment Allison Hayes Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress
1984 Not for Publication Lois Thorndyke
1986 The Gladiator Susan Neville Television movie
1987 Sweet Revenge Jillian Grey
1987 RoboCop Officer Anne Lewis Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress
1988 Poltergeist III Patricia Wilson-Gardner
1989 Limit Up Casey Falls
1990 RoboCop 2 Anne Lewis
1990 Memories of Murder Jennifer Gordon/Corey Television movie
1993 RoboCop 3 Anne Lewis Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1993 Acting on Impulse Cathy Thomas Television movie
1994 The Man Who Wouldn't Die Jessie Gallardo Television movie
1994 Les patriotes Catherine Pelman
1997 Against the Law Maggie Hewitt
1997 Dusting Cliff 7 Anna Bishop aka Last Assassins
1998 The Pass Shirley Duprey
1998 Out of Sight Midge
1999 Secret of the Andes Brenda Willings
1999 Kiss Toledo Goodbye Madge
1999 Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return Rachel Colby Direct to video
2001 Circuit Louise
2008 My Apocalypse Linda Savage aka Quality Time
2012 Bound by Flesh Narrator


Year Title Role Notes
1983–1984 Another World Paula James Unknown episodes
1984 Faerie Tale Theatre Princess Elizabeth Episode: "The Princess and the Pea"
1994 Touched by an Angel Megan Episode: "An Unexpected Snow"
1995 The Outer Limits Rachel Rose Episode: "Valerie 23"
1995 The Commish Gina Raposo Episode: "Brooklyn"
2001 Judging Amy Helen White Episode: "The Unforgiven"
2002 The Division Christine Ogden Episode: "Brave New World"
2003 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Carin Healy Episode: "Escape"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1980 3rd Stinkers Bad Movie Awards Worst Actress
Dressed to Kill
1981 38th Golden Globe Awards New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture - Female Nominated
1st Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Actress Nominated
1985 12th Saturn Awards Best Actress
The Philadelphia Experiment
1988 15th Saturn Awards Best Actress
1994 20th Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress
RoboCop 3


  1. ^ "A More Physical Cop". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
  2. ^ The New York Times, September 5, 1980, "At the Movies --- Nancy Allen, making good at being bad," p. C6.
  3. ^ "No Wonder Nancy Allen has Nightmares". L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service. July 16, 1981.
  4. ^ "NANCY ALLEN STARS IN LIFETIME FIRST". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
  5. ^ "Nancy Allen shows her softer side in RoboCop 3". Lakeland Ledger. November 7, 1993.
  6. ^ [1]

External links[edit]