Known for movies

Short Info

SpouseAlba Francesca, Susan Reed
FactIn 2001, he received the "Buster" award, an annual honour given to one who demonstrates professional excellence in the tradition of Buster Keaton. He was a close friend of Buster Keaton and Eleanor Keaton and toured with the legendary comedian on the 1950s stage with "Merton of the Movies" and in the Samuel Beckett film entitled Film (1965).

James Karen was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on November 28, 1927. His parents, Joseph and Clara Karen, were both immigrants from Russia. He has two older sisters, Mary and Anna. Karen attended local schools and was a talented athlete, playing both basketball and baseball. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served during World War II.

After the war, Karen attended Wilkes College on the G.I. Bill. He then moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting. He studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actors Studio. His first professional acting job was in a production of “The Glass Menagerie” in 1949.

Karen’s film debut came in 1955 with a small role in “East of Eden.” He went on to appear in such films as “The Godfather Part II” (1974), “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978), “Poltergeist” (1982), and “Wall Street” (1987). He has also had roles on several television shows, including “Kojak,” “Dallas,” “Falcon Crest,” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Karen has been married three times. His first wife was actress Lois Smith, with whom he had one child. His second wife was actress Patricia Quinn, with whom he had two children. His third wife is actress Barbara Rush, with whom he has one child.

Karen’s net worth is estimated to be $5 million. He has earned his wealth through his successful acting career.

General Info

Full NameJames Karen
EducationNeighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre


SpouseAlba Francesca, Susan Reed
ChildrenReed Karen
ParentsJoseph H. Karnofsky, Mae Karnofsky


MoviesThe Return of the Living Dead, The Pursuit of Happyness, Return of the Living Dead Part II, Poltergeist, Mulholland Drive, Wall Street, Hercules in New York, Invaders from Mars, Superman Returns, Any Given Sunday, The China Syndrome, Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, Apt Pupil, All the President...
TV ShowsFirst Monday, The Powers of Matthew Star

Social profile links


1Did commercials for the Pathmark supermarket chain for 3 decades earning the nickname of "Mr. Pathmark".
2His parents, Mae S. (Freed) and Joseph H. Karnofsky, were Russian Jewish immigrants.
3Close friend of actor Hans Conried.
4Profiled in "Character Kings: Hollywood's Familiar Faces Discuss the Art & Business of Acting" by Scott Voisin. [2009]
5Ex-brother-in-law of Jared Reed.
6Father of Reed Karen and has two grandchildren.
7Former son-in-law of film director Daniel Reed and Isadora Reed.
8Was a longtime friend of the late Robert Ludlum, best-selling author of the "Osterman Weekend" and the "Jason Bourne" novels, among others. Both men got to know each other as young, struggling actors after World War II and before Ludlum's career turned to writing.
9He's the son of a produce dealer and a folk singer.
10Once stated in an interview that when he could not find work as an actor, he earned a living by restoring and customizing cars.
11In 2001, he received the "Buster" award, an annual honour given to one who demonstrates professional excellence in the tradition of Buster Keaton. He was a close friend of Buster Keaton and Eleanor Keaton and toured with the legendary comedian on the 1950s stage with "Merton of the Movies" and in the Samuel Beckett film entitled Film (1965).
12Studied acting at New York City's prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse under legendary acting coach Sanford Meisner.
13Became an actor thanks to the insistence of U.S. Congressman Daniel J. Flood (who was himself an amateur thespian).




Dark Skies1997TV SeriesHarry Carruthers
Spycraft: The Great Game1996Video GameDDO Gene Warhurst
The Adventures of Pinocchio1996Video GameGregorio
Touched by an Angel1996TV SeriesMark Abernathy
Up Close & Personal1996Tom Orr
Sisters1996TV SeriesJudge
Nixon1995Bill Rogers
Congo1995College President / Elliot's Boss
Tough and Deadly1995VideoWinston Briggers
The Commish1995TV SeriesJimmy Malloy
Bonanza: Under Attack1995TV MovieMr. Stewart
A Kiss Goodnight1994TV MovieSam Mosbach
Tick, Tick, Tick1994Short
Hearts Afire1994TV SeriesNorman Lynch
The Companion1994TV MoviePeter Franklin
Melrose Place1994TV SeriesJudge Mike Thomas
Coach1992-1994TV SeriesJames Armstrong
Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love1994TV MovieMylan Whitfield
Future Shock1994Kafka
Stone Soup1993Paul
Staying Afloat1993TV MovieGeorge
A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion1993TV MovieAssistant District Attorney Al Sampson
The Larry Sanders Show1992-1993TV SeriesSheldon Davidoff
Class of '961993TV SeriesProf. Drake
Designing Women1993TV SeriesKearney
Bodies of Evidence1993TV SeriesGil Murphy
Spirit of the Eagle1991Adult Little Eli (Narrator) (voice)
Absolute Strangers1991TV MovieDr. X
The Unborn1991Dr. Richard Meyerling
L.A. Law1991TV SeriesDr. Wilson
Lies Before Kisses1991TV MovieArthur
Matlock1991TV SeriesEd Billings
Heart of the Deal1990
The Willies1990Uncle Harry / Mr. Jenkins
The Closer1990Ned Randall
Thanksgiving Day1990TV MovieAverill Crandall
Road Lawyers and Other Briefs1990Judge Bowelmore (segment "Road Lawyers")
Charles in Charge1987-1990TV SeriesAustin Miller / Mr. Bartlett
Shattered Dreams1990TV MovieCharles O'Donnell
Vital Signs1990Dean of Students
Rich Men, Single Women1990TV Movie
Drug Wars: The Camarena Story1990TV Mini-SeriesAide
Mancuso, FBI1989TV SeriesNagan
Booker1989TV SeriesJack Wingate
The New Lassie1989TV SeriesOfficer Stanley
Highway to Heaven1989TV SeriesMr. Simenton
Murphy Brown1989TV SeriesArvin
Girlfriend from Hell1989Carl's Dad
Jake and the Fatman1987-1989TV SeriesThe Mayor
MacGyver1989TV SeriesRobert Sanborn / Papillon
The Roommate1989Short
The Golden Girls1988TV SeriesRaymond
Sledge Hammer!1988TV SeriesGovernor Fritz La Chatte
Return of the Living Dead II1988Ed
Wall Street1987Lynch
Billionaire Boys Club1987TV MovieMr. Fairmont Sr.
Magnum, P.I.1987TV SeriesAndrew Clifton, the IAD Cop
Who's the Boss?1987TV SeriesJerry
Eight Is Enough: A Family Reunion1987TV MovieEliot Randolph
Amazing Stories1987TV SeriesRichard Whelan
Square One Television1987TV SeriesProsecutor
Mathnet1987TV SeriesProsecutor
Hardbodies 21986Logan
Melba1986TV Series
Invaders from Mars1986Gen. Climet Wilson
2271985TV SeriesLawyer
Jagged Edge1985Andrew Hardesty
The Return of the Living Dead1985Frank
Webster1985TV SeriesDr. Rosencrantz
Moonlighting1985TV SeriesAlan
Cheers1985TV SeriesDr. Bennett Ludlow
Three's a Crowd1984TV SeriesDr. Richard Kimberley
The Boy Who Loved Trolls1984TV MovieRichman
Dynasty1984TV SeriesAvril Dawson
Sam's Son1984Mr. Collins
The Paper Chase1984TV SeriesMr. Pearson
Emerald Point N.A.S.1983-1984TV SeriesAdmiral Lovell
Little House: The Last Farewell1984TV MovieNathan Lassiter
Family Ties1984TV SeriesPhilip
Hardcastle and McCormick1984TV SeriesC. Calvin Moore
Trapper John, M.D.1983TV SeriesKrewitt
Simon & Simon1983TV SeriesInsurance Agent
The Powers of Matthew Star1983TV SeriesMajor Wymore
Tucker's Witch1983TV SeriesEarl Crayton
ABC Afterschool Specials1983TV SeriesMr. Fairchild
Quincy M.E.1977-1983TV SeriesMr. Maszek / Dr. Tom Pierce / Dr. Chet Rawlings / ...
M*A*S*H1983TV SeriesDr. Stephen Chesler
Dallas1982-1983TV SeriesElton Lawrence
Kiss Me Goodbye1982Lawyer (uncredited)
Frances1982Judge Hillier
Time Walker1982Dr. Wendell J. Rossmore
Poltergeist1982Mr. Teague
Knots Landing1982TV SeriesMax Craig
Herbie, the Love Bug1982TV SeriesMinister
The Day the Bubble Burst1982TV Movie
The Violation of Sarah McDavid1981TV MovieDr. Spandler
Take This Job and Shove It1981Loomis
The Jeffersons1981TV SeriesHerbert Purcell
The Jazz Singer1980Barney Callahan
Portrait of a Rebel: The Remarkable Mrs. Sanger1980TV Movie
F.D.R.: The Last Year1980TV MovieAdm. McIntire
Once Upon a Family1980TV MovieAlvin Heller
Topper1979TV MovieFred Korbell
Eight Is Enough1979TV SeriesEliot Randolph
Blind Ambition1979TV Mini-SeriesEarl Silbert
The China Syndrome1979Mac Churchill
The Ordeal of Patty Hearst1979TV MoviePsychologist
The Rockford Files1977-1979TV SeriesMartin Horvath / John LaPointe
Institute for Revenge1979TV MoviePower Broker
One Day at a Time1978TV SeriesFred Emerson
Lou Grant1978TV SeriesTyler Armitage
Lucan1978TV SeriesMurdoch
Opening Night1977Bellboy
Capricorn One1977Vice President Price
Family1977TV SeriesDr. Addison
The Gathering1977TV MovieBob Block
Rafferty1977TV Series
Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night1977TV MovieDr. Sutterman
Something for Joey1977TV MovieDr. Wingreen
Delvecchio1976TV SeriesPorter
Serpico1976TV SeriesEd Demarest
Executive Suite1976TV SeriesCarter
All the President's Men1976Hugh Sloan's Lawyer
Police Woman1976TV SeriesDriver
McMillan & Wife1976TV SeriesGeorge Pauling
Hawaii Five-O1976TV SeriesWingfield
The Bionic Woman1976TV SeriesGeorge Morehouse
The Streets of San Francisco1976TV SeriesFrank Batz
The Blue Knight1976TV SeriesTalford
The Waltons1975TV SeriesMartin Walters
Starsky and Hutch1975TV SeriesCarter
The Invisible Man1975TV SeriesHotel Manager
Amazing Grace1974Annenberg
Rivals1972Child Psychiatrist
I Never Sang for My Father1970Old Age Home Director
Hercules in New York1970Professor Camden
All My Children1970TV SeriesLincoln 'Linc' Tyler #1 (1970) (original cast)
Directions1966TV Series
Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster1965Dr. Adam Steele (as Jim Karen)
The Defenders1964TV SeriesRabbi Fine / Paul Damon
Car 54, Where Are You?1962TV SeriesBird Owner
As the World Turns1956TV SeriesDr. Burke (1967-1970)
Lux Video Theatre1951TV SeriesLlewellyn
The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse1948TV Series
Cynthia2017post-productionFrank Teague
Sticky FingersTV Series filmingBudd
Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk2017Interviewee #1
Bender2016Old Man Bender
Rain from Stars2013Spencer
Green Briefs2013VideoAnthony
America's Most Haunted2013Ralph George
Ambush at Dark Canyon2012Seymour Redfield
American Dad!2012TV SeriesLarry Herman
The Butterfly Room2012Taxidermist
Drew Peterson: Untouchable2012TV MoviePastor Tom Keller
The Cleveland Show2011TV Series
Sympathy for Delicious2010Father Rohn
Jack and the Beanstalk2009Verri Saddius
Dark and Stormy Night2009Seyton Ethelquake
Cold Case2008TV SeriesSteve Pratt '08
Heart Medicine2007ShortMac
Trail of the Screaming Forehead2007Reverend Beaks
The Pursuit of Happyness2006Martin Frohm
Outlaw Trail: The Treasure of Butch Cassidy2006Leroy Parker
Superman Returns2006Ben Hubbard (scenes deleted)
Office Court2005ShortJudge Jimmy
Unscripted2005TV SeriesDante's Friend
Flickering Blue2004ShortAl
Judging Amy2003TV SeriesDr. Irwin Garner
A House on a Hill2003Sy
JAG2000-2002TV SeriesFormer COMSUBPAC / Senator Barrington
Fatal Kiss2002TV MovieLarry Jacobs
First Monday2002TV SeriesJustice Michael Bancroft
Jane Bond2001ShortZ
The Nightmare Room2001TV SeriesTobias Langley
Mulholland Dr.2001Wally Brown
The Practice1998-2001TV SeriesJudge Knapp / Judge in Tobacco Case
Thirteen Days2000George Ball
Walker, Texas Ranger2000TV SeriesSenator
The Parkers2000TV SeriesRupert Van Lowe
Any Given Sunday1999Christina's Advisor
One Last Flight1999Gramps
My Last Love1999TV MoviePhil Morton
Mulholland Dr.1999TV MovieWally Brown
Apt Pupil1998Victor Bowden
Freedom Strike1998President Mitchell
The Cowboy and the Movie Star1998TV MovieBrad Peters
Beverly Hills, 902101998TV SeriesMinister
Seinfeld1998TV SeriesMr. Canterman
Shadow of Doubt1998Norman Calloway
Ned and Stacey1996-1997TV SeriesPatrick Kirkland
River Made to Drown In1997Ray
NightMan1997TV MovieSecretary of Defense Laughton
Joyride1997The Client
NightMan1997TV SeriesSecretary of Defense Laughton
Always Say Goodbye1997William Tager
Behind Enemy Lines1997TV Reporter


Universal Horror1998TV Movie documentary source: stills


The Flying Dutchmen2015Documentary special thanks completed
So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM2004TV Movie documentary acknowledgment: still photographs provided by / special thanks
A Moment of Grace2004Short special thanks
The China Syndrome: A Fusion of Talent2004Video documentary short special thanks
The China Syndrome: Creating a Controversy2004Video documentary short special thanks
Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic2004TV Movie documentary thanks
Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces2000TV Movie documentary grateful thanks


More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead2011Video documentaryHimself
They Won't Stay Dead: A Look at Return of the Living Dead Part II2011Video documentary shortHimself
Let It Begin! A Filmmaker's Journey2010Documentary short
When the World Breaks2010DocumentaryHimself
Return of the Living Dead: The Dead Have Risen2007Video documentary shortHimself
The Ludlum Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum2007Video documentaryHimself
Making Pursuit: An Italian Take on the American Dream2007Video shortHimself
Secret's Out2007TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Requiem for Krypton: Making 'Superman Returns'2006Video documentaryHimself (uncredited)
Movies That Shook the World2005TV Series documentaryHimself
I'm King Kong!: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper2005DocumentaryHimself - Interviewee
Garbo2005DocumentaryHimself - Interviewee
So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM2004TV Movie documentaryHimself - Host / Narrator
The China Syndrome: A Fusion of Talent2004Video documentary shortHimself
The China Syndrome: Creating a Controversy2004Video documentary shortHimself
The Bourne Identity: The Bourne Mastermind - Robert Ludlum2004Video documentary shortHimself
The Bourne Supremacy: The Bourne Mastermind (Part 2)2004Video shortHimself
Time Machine: Banned from the Bible2003TV Movie documentaryAdditional Narration
CBS News Sunday Morning2001TV Series documentaryHimself
Universal Horror1998TV Movie documentaryHimself / interview
E! True Hollywood Story1997TV Series documentaryHimself
Biography1995TV Series documentaryHimself
Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow1987-1989TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
Drive-In Madness!1987DocumentaryHimself
Sinister Image1987TV SeriesHimself

Archive Footage

Cinemassacre's Monster Madness2009TV Series documentaryFrank / Mr. Teague
They Are Here: The Real World of the Poltergeists2007Video documentary shortMr. Teague (uncredited)
Seinfeld: Inside Look2007TV Series documentary shortMr. Canterman
Cult People1989Video documentaryHimself


Won Awards

1998Life Career AwardAcademy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA

Nominated Awards

1991Chainsaw AwardFangoria Chainsaw AwardsBest Supporting ActorThe Unborn (1991)
1986Saturn AwardAcademy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USABest ActorThe Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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