Nancy Anne Allen was the daughter of a police lieutenant from Yonkers, New York. At a young age, she trained for a dancing career at the High School of Performing Arts, and then attended Jose Quintano's School for Young Professionals. In dozens of television commercials from the age of 15, Nancy made her first film appearance in The Last Detail (1973) with Jack Nicholson. Three years later, she set the standard for all future "bitch-goddess teenagers" as Chris Hargensen in Stephen King's Carrie (1976), taken to the big screen by director Brian De Palma. Nancy then married De Palma in 1979. She next appeared in Steven Spielberg's I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978); for the next few years, she appeared only in De Palma's films: Home Movies (1979), Dressed to Kill (1980), and she starred with John Travolta in Blow Out (1981).
After her divorce from De Palma in 1984, Nancy's film opportunities were supposedly narrowed, but then she surprised the whole world in 1987 when she performed as Officer Anne Lewis in the sci-fi cult film RoboCop (1987), along with Peter Weller. Here, she set another standard as a tough but at the same time feminine policewoman, whose sex would not interfere with her actions. After the success of RoboCop, she performed as Patricia Gardner in the second sequel in the Poltergeist series. She came back in RoboCop 2 (1990) and in order to get more involved with the character Nancy Allen learned martial arts and police training for real. She returned again in RoboCop 3 (1993), though her co-star Peter Weller did not this time. In 1993, Nancy joined several other veteran stars in Acting on Impulse (1993), and married co-star Craig Shoemaker, in the same year. A few years later, she divorced Craig and some time after she married again.
Later, she appeared in some diverse films: Dusting Cliff 7 (1997) Secret of the Andes (1998), Circuit (2001), and she had a guest appearance in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight (1998). Her last performance was for the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999), in the episode "Escape" aired on December 2, 2003. Allen has recently appeared in several documentaries about her most famous films: Acting 'Carrie' (2001), _DVD BackStory: RoboCop (2001)_, The Making of 'Dressed to Kill' (2001), DVD _ET True Hollywood Stories: The Curse of Poltergeist (2002)_.
Interested in projecting the image of a strong but at the same time feminine woman, she managed to get away from the victim roles she was always offered, she also was able to get away from the stereotype of the beautiful but dumb woman in most action films. She is an environmentalist that traded her Volvo car for an Hybrid car in order to set the example. She is also an activist against breast Cancer along with her friend actress Wendie Jo Sperber, who created the foundation WeSpark. Her last appearance on television was on the Inside E! story of her co-star John Travolta and the A&E Biography of Travolta - both appearances in 2004. Nowadays, Nancy Allen lives a quiet life along with her family and friends somewhere in the United States.