This is a guest post by Cary O’Dell, assistant to the National Film Preservation Board and the National Recording Preservation Board. He’s also the maestro of our “Mystery Photo” series.
Does the woman above look familiar? Probably. But do you know her name?!
We found this picture, without any identifying information, in a large collection of film and TV stills that included pictures of stars such as Mary Pickford, Bette Davis, Annette Funicello, and Mary Tyler Moore, so we assume, by association, that the subject is an actress. But that’s about all we can guess. In fact, I’ve nicknamed her “The Most Mysterious Woman in the World” for how powerfully elusive her identity has proven to be. The problem isn’t that she looks so unusual that no one has any idea who she might be; it’s that she looks so much like so many other actresses that no one has been able to set her apart from them.
Here’s a short list of actresses who readers have suggested she might be: Stephanie Zimbalist, Sherry Jackson, Linda Harrison, Nancy Roth, Shelley Fabares, Carla Borelli, Bonnie Bedelia, Diana Canova (despite what one website says), Lucie Arnaz, Sigourney Weaver, Michele Carey, Stefanie Powers, Jeanne Rainer, Jane Merrow, Tina Sinatra, Dana Delany, Lynn Loring, Evie Sands, Sheila Larken, Katharine Ross, Kim Darby and Susan Saint James. None of those are correct.
Responses are still pending from Anna Maria Alberghetti, Pamela Tiffin, Lesley Ann Warren, Lana Wood and from the estate of Carrie Fisher. Fisher has been a popular guess, but the timing appears off. Fisher was born in 1956. If this photo is from around 1970, as most of us think it is, she would have barely been a teenager. Our mystery woman looks much older.
Some other nominations: Sherry Bain, Ann Prentiss, Gail Hire, Gloria Dell, Linda Marsh, Myrna Fahey, Melinda Fee, Brenda Scott, Juanin Clay, Annabelle Garth, Lori Martin, Joan Prather, Lisa James, Lynn McRee, and Linda Peck. Many of these women are deceased, making the search more difficult. Still, we have not been able to find this photo identified as one of them.
To authenticate our mystery woman’s identity, we would need the subject telling us, “Yes, that’s me,” or we would need a publication that used this photograph (or a slightly different pose from the same session) and named the subject.
It’s possible that this mystery will never be solved, though it does seem strange in this day and age of mass communication that she could have faded into complete anonymity. Surely someone knows her!
Post your best guess in the comments — but please review above to make sure your suggestion hasn’t been eliminated. We’ll track down fresh ideas and report back.
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Photo is of Diana Canoga.
Talented actress and singer. Daughter of Judy Canova
She looks like Barbara Parkins, from Valley of the Dolls and Peyton Place.
It is Diana Canova.
An excellent guess, but we’ve tracked it down and it’s not her.
I thought it looked like Marlo Thomas when she did That Girl TV Show
The actress might be a young Jane Fonda.
If all else fails,
The Screen Actors Guild published a yearbook. It listed actor/actresses via categories. I am sure the Academy would have the huge set in their archives.
I haven’t seen anyone mention Claudine Longet. I would guess it could be her.
Hello all! Please keep your guesses coming. To clarify: I know what one webpage says regarding this being Ms. Canova but the LC reached out to her and she said it wasn’t her. I believe her. We have yet to hear back from Pam Dawber and we’re still trying to find Claudine L. THANKS!
She looks like Connie Britton.
I think this is Marlo Thomas. I identified her by her eyes:-)
Any chance it could be Denise Miller? An actress who used to be on Archie Bunker’s place, Fish and some other shows.
Could we try an indirect approach?
1. Is the photographer reflected in her eyes? Can it be rectified from projection on a curved surface?
2. Not a “head shot” or studio photo–blemish to the left of her mouth would have been dodged out.
3. Is the manufacturer of her blouse identifiable from pattern and style?
4. Looks slightly overexposed, either the negative or the print. Why? Can we tell the direction of the sun or the time of day?
5. Very flat depth of field–her hands are out of focus. Does that tell us anything?
6. The wall or whatever that she is leaning on. What is it? Where could it be?
I don’t have the skills to answer these questions, but the smart people who can answer them might give us some hints as to who she is. If she wore glasses she would look a bit like one of my cousins did back then.
She looks like a very young Sarah Miles, who would have been 29 in 1970, but whose career began in 1961, and whom the styles could have been earlier.
Kim Darby, from True Grit with John Wayne.
If I got Claudine Longet on the horn, this would not be the question I led with….
Susan St. James?
Did you try Samantha Eggar?
She oaks like Suzanne Pleshette
Claudine Longet is pretty reclusive, so you might not hear back from her even if you dig up a contact. I am pretty sure that’s not her, though.
What I’m seeing is someone from the B-movie or genre world, American. It’s on the tip of my tongue and/or back of my mind, but nothing’s emerged. I shall check with some other experts in the field. Maddening.
Young Carrie Fisher
Young Carrie Fisher…(?)
Carrie Fisher pre-Star Wars
when I first looked at her I thought Marliw Thomas.
Susan Sarandon, when she was in her 20s-30s
Looks like Dawn Wells from Mork & Mindy to me.
I meant to say Dawn Wells from Gilligans Island.
Not Mork & Mindy.
Have you run facial recognition on her against popular teen titles of the era like _Seventeen_ Magazine? Also teen fan magazines? Is there a way to run facial recognition against high school and college yearbooks from say 1967-1974?
Like the one poster said its looks to be marlo Thomas. Looks like one of her earlier head shots when comparing with Google image. Just Google marlo Thomas +1970+black and white images and you will get many that looks like this head shot. If its not then wow cuz they are almost as close as u can get.
My first thought was Carrie Fisher.
Diana Canova from ‘Soap’?
I think Warner is correct – it is Diana Canova. Looking at images from IMDB, the eye and eyebrow shape and hairline appear to be identical.
Barbara Parkins, Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls
I like Marlo Thomas. But am also leaning toward Natalie Wood
THANKS TO ALL FOR THEIR SUGGESTIONS. IT ISN’T DANA D., BARBARA P. OR DIANA C. THE LIBRARY SENT THE PHOTO TO ALL THREE WOMEN AND THEY SAID IT WASN’T THEM. WAITING TO HEAR BACK FROM MARLO T. AND FROM THE ESTATE OF CARRIE FISHER….
Dana Delany “China Beach”
It’s Suzanne Pleshette
She looks like Mary Mcdonnell, but I don’t think the timing is right -MM might be too young.
Looks much like Kristin Nelson i think.
The actress is Carrie Fischer
Is she the young Jessica Walter.
Could she be Connie Sellecca?
I may have put Pickford in a previous post. I meant Bette Davis. Sorry.
Young Carrie Fisher (you said 14) with make up.
This picture looks like a photo you’d have seen in Popular Photography in the 70’s
No clue who she might be but she’s clearly holding a painting. Must be a content clue because it seems like an unusual prop otherwise.
I don’t think it is her (lips are too thin), but my first thought was Ali McGraw.
What about Julia Roberts? Maybe, the picture is taken in the early 80s?
Linda Wilson, Tom Hanks wife.
Could this be Susan Strasberg?
IF YOU ARE FOLLOWING ALONG… I HAVE SINCE LEARNED DIRECTLY FROM THE FOLLOWING WOMEN THAT THE WOMAN IN THIS PHOTO IS NOT THEM: Anna Maria A., Rita Wilson, Caitlin O. nor Melinda Marx. STILL WAITING TO HEAR BACK FROM VARIOUS OTHERS…. PLEASE NOTE THAT WE HAVE ALREADY GOTTEN “NO’S” FROM: Dana D.
My guess is Tisha Sterling, daughter of Robert Sterling and Ann Sothern.
Kitty Winn? See IMDb photos
WELL, ACCORDING TO TODD FISHER, HER BROTHER, THIS IS NOT HIS SISTER CARRIE.
Catherine Deneuve in a brunette phase
A clue. Catherine is wearing a marinière, a striped French sailor shirt. She also adores art, hence holding a framed canvas.
Deneuve? I didn’t think so at first but could be. If you Google “brunette Deneuve” or “Catherine Deneuve brunette” this shot does not come up but there are two or three in which a distinct resemblance to the woman in this shot is very clear.
Then again, if the picture is indeed from 1970 or so, no way. Oh well.
Yes, Catherine Deneuve is a natural brunette.
Marisa Tomei was born in 1964. She is only 55. This actress would be over 70 now.
I still think it may be Catherine Deneuve. She is 76.
She played in “Yours Mine & Ours” the daughter named Rosemary. Her name at that time was Nancy Roth.
Thanks for the suggestion…check the blog later today, as we’ve *finally* identified her!
Hi folks. Just popped in to see if there was an answer to who this woman is. Stay safe.
Yes! Just recently:
Yes! Just recently:
I believe it’s Kim Darby. she was in True Grit, among other things.
Barbara Parkins is an excellent guess.
I think you might have ruled out Susan Saint James wrongly because I’m almost 100% sure that it’s definitely her. I can’t believe people think it’s a young Carrie Fisher sorry peeps but it looks nothing at all like her. The other woman I think it could possibly be is Barbara Parkins, but you have ruled her out too.
Please see Nancy Roth- “Streets of San Francisco” Episode: “Legion of the Lost” S1-E27