Joan Allen

1956

Joan Allen was born on August 20, 1956 in Rochelle, Illinois, the youngest of four children. She is the daughter of homemaker Dorothea Marie (Wirth) and gas station owner James Jefferson Allen. Her mother's family was German, and her father had English, Scots-Irish, and German ancestry. She attended Rochelle Township High School where she was voted most likely to succeed. Joining Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble in 1977, she was one of the group's original members and starred in a number of its original productions. Her first major film credits included two critically-lauded supporting performances that showcased her versatility: a comedic turn in the suburban murder mystery Compromising Positions (1985) and a dramatic role as a blind woman befriended by a serial killer in Manhunter (1986). Around the same time, Allen was making a name for herself on the New York stage; she would eventually become one of the New York theater world's most honored actresses and a winn

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