Star of San Diego theater community dies in home


Beloved actress and teacher was an inspiration

Priscilla Allen had a prolific career as an actress in San Diego and beyond, and was also a beloved teacher and mentor to many in the theater community.

Allen died Aug. 14 in her La Jolla home after a long illness at the age of 70.

“She was like a grand dame in theater here,” said Dori Salois, artistic director of the Vantage Theatre, one of the many in which she performed.

Her acting career spanned more than 40 years, with appearances in most stages in San Diego, including the Starlight Theatre, the San Diego Repertory Theatre, the Lawrence Welk Theatre, Lamb’s Player’s Theatre, The Old Globe, Diversionary Theatre and the North Coast Repertory Theatre.

She also appeared in the television show “Happy Days” and in the films “Total Recall,” starring her friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, and “The Naked Truth” and “Let Others Suffer.” She also played in the Off-Broadway production “Holy Ghosts.”

Born in Buffalo, New York on July 19, 1938, Allen moved to La Jolla at the age of 2 and attended La Jolla High, where she discovered her passion for theater during her senior year. She later attended San Diego State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in speech and drama and a minor in English.

She taught in San Diego Junior Theatre, the San Diego City Schools Gifted and Talented Program, the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, Point Loma High School, Muirlands Middle School, Mesa College and Southwestern College.

Animal rights was her second love, said her daughter Meredith Christiansen.

“We all grew up rescuing animals and we still do,” said Christiansen.

Allen married Dennis Allen in 1963, a San Diego police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1977. She is survived by her daughters Hillary, Meredith and Jennifer and three grandchildren.