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James Karen

James Karen has been a character actor of distinction for over 30 years in film and television. Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1923, Karen studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse, which led to his Broadway debut in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire in 1947. He appeared in more than 20 Broadway plays, including Cactus Flower with Lauren Bacall, An Enemy of the People with Fredric March and The Country Girl with Jason Robards. He was associated with Edward Albee on several productions, including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? both on Broadway and the West End in London.

Karen toured on stage with the legendary Buster Keaton in Merton of the Movies and supported Keaton in several live TV shows and in Samuel Beckett's film, titled Film.

Karen produced and acted for 20 year in productions on the summer-stock circuit, often partnered with Barry Nelson. He also appeared in a nightclub act with Celeste Holm in New York and Las Vegas. His feature film work has included Oliver Stone's Wall Street and Nixon, in addition to such titles as All the President's Men, Capricorn One, The China Syndrome, Frances, Poltergeist, Jagged Edge, Invaders From Mars, Vital Signs, Congo, Up Close and Personal, Latino and Apt Pupil. His numerous horror-film roles have won him a cult following from devotees of that genre.

Since making his TV debut in 1948 with the Philco telecast of A Christmas Carol, Karen has also appeared as a guest star in hundreds of television series and movies-of-the-week, including The Gathering, The Ordeal of Patty Hearst, Blind Ambition, F.D.R. - The Last Year and The Billionaire Boys Club. Karen has also appeared in a record-breaking five thousand-plus on-camera television commercials.

He is currently filming the drama Thirteen Days opposite Kevin Costner.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2000.

James Karen Facts

Birth NameJacob Karnofsky

Selected Filmography

Runaway Bride
The Running Man
Back to the Future
Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Coming to America
Meet Dave
The Pursuit Of Happyness
Thirteen Days
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