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

Allen began an acting and modelling career as a child, and from the mid-1970s appeared in small film roles, most notably the anchor of Robert Zemeckis's ensemble comedy I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978). 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), Out of Sight (1998), and the RoboCop trilogy.

Early life[edit source | editbeta]Edit

She was born 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 at age 4. 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 source | editbeta]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, and try for larger parts.[2] She scored the role of Chris Hargensen in director Brian De Palma's horror film Carrie (1976) opposite Sissy SpacekAmy 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 Steven Spielberg film, the high profile comedy 1941 (1979) opposite Tim MathesonJohn BelushiDan Aykroyd and John Candy.

She and Brian De Palma were married on January 12, 1979, and for the next couple of years Allen 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 as Sally Bedina in Blow Out (1981) opposite John Travolta. In filming the latter, she had to overcome a lifelong fear of being trapped in a submerged car that is filling with water.[3]

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

Known for taking risky roles in the 1970s and 1980s, she played prostitutes several times, participating in racy sex scenes or appearing nude.

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 due in part to stress that DePalma placed on their marriage while filming Scarface.[4] 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 CarriePaul 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 source | editbeta]Edit

Allen played the 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 SkerrittLara 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. In order to make her character tougher and more involved in the physical action, she studiedmartial arts and participated in police training. That same year, Allen toplined 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.[5]

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." [6] The same year, Allen also appeared withLinda Fiorentino in Acting on Impulse. She and Shoemaker divorced in 1994.

Later career[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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

In 1994, she re-teamed with Strange Invaders scribe 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 inQuality Time in 1997 but the film was not released until 2008 due, in part, to post-production and renamed My Apocalypse. She and builder/contractor Randy Bailey 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 with David Keith and Jerry Stiller, was released in 2000.

Her television guest appearances include roles on Touched by an AngelThe Outer LimitsThe CommishJudging 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, Nancy Allen was named Executive Director of the weSPARK Cancer Support Center, which was founded by her longtime friend and I Wanna Hold Your Hand co-star, actress Wendie Jo Sperber, and attended the popular 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 fund raise. It is my life’s work."[7]

It was announced in February 2011 that a remastered Criterion Collection DVD/Blu-ray release of Blow Out would be released in late April and include a new hour-long interview with Nancy Allen concerning her role.[8]

Filmography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Last Detail Nancy
1975 Forced Entry Hitch Hiker
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
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
1984 Not for Publication Lois Thorndyke
1987 Sweet Revenge Jillian Grey
1987 RoboCop Officer Anne Lewis
1988 Poltergeist III Patricia Wilson-Gardner
1989 Limit Up Casey Falls
1990 RoboCop 2 Anne Lewis
1993 RoboCop 3 Anne Lewis
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
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 TV series
1984 Faerie Tale Theatre Princess Elizabeth Episode: "The Princess and the Pea"
1986 The Gladiator Susan Neville TV movie
1990 Memories of Murder Alice TV movie
1993 Acting on Impulse Cathy Thomas TV movie
1994 The Man Who Wouldn't Die Jessie Gallardo TV movie
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[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Year Award Category Title Result
1981 Golden Globe New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture – Female Dressed to Kill (1980) Nominated
1985 Saturn Award Best Actress The Philadelphia Experiment (1984) Nominated
1988 Saturn Award Best Actress RoboCop (1987) Nominated
1994 Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress RoboCop 3 (1993)
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