Name That Actress…If You Can

The most mysterious woman? Readers have been unable to identify her.

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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  1. Andrew Peterson
    December 10, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Arriana Huffington.

  2. Martha Egan
    December 10, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Photo is of Diana Canoga.
    Talented actress and singer. Daughter of Judy Canova

  3. Peter Birkenhead
    December 10, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    She looks like Barbara Parkins, from Valley of the Dolls and Peyton Place.

  4. Warner
    December 10, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    It is Diana Canova.

  5. Charles Hansen
    December 10, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    I thought it looked like Marlo Thomas when she did That Girl TV Show

  6. June
    December 10, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    The actress might be a young Jane Fonda.

  7. M. Schroeder
    December 10, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    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.

    Good luck.

  8. Kathy
    December 10, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Pam Dawber?

  9. Steve Jajkowski
    December 10, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    I haven’t seen anyone mention Claudine Longet. I would guess it could be her.

  10. CARY at the Library
    December 10, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    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!

    December 10, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    She looks like Connie Britton.

  12. Mira Nezar
    December 10, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    I think this is Marlo Thomas. I identified her by her eyes:-)

  13. Meyer Goldberg
    December 10, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    Barbi Benton

  14. Mira Nezar
    December 10, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Marlo Thomas

  15. Mike
    December 10, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Any chance it could be Denise Miller? An actress who used to be on Archie Bunker’s place, Fish and some other shows.

  16. Ted McClure
    December 10, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    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.

  17. Carl Olson
    December 10, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    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.

  18. Anthony Reichardt
    December 10, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    Melinda Marx

  19. Samantha
    December 10, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Kim Darby, from True Grit with John Wayne.

  20. miki pfeffer
    December 10, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    Helen Mirren

  21. Judy judd
    December 10, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    Barbara Parkins

  22. Mike Shoop
    December 10, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Mary McDonnell?

  23. Noelle Stephens
    December 10, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Kim Darby

  24. Stephen Bowie
    December 10, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    If I got Claudine Longet on the horn, this would not be the question I led with….

  25. BNickle
    December 10, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Susan St. James?

  26. Diane Keiser
    December 10, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    stephanie zimbalist

  27. Jane Kelly
    December 10, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Did you try Samantha Eggar?

  28. Licia Navazio
    December 10, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    She oaks like Suzanne Pleshette

  29. Glenn Kenny
    December 10, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    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.

  30. Kseniia
    December 10, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Young Carrie Fisher

  31. Kseniia
    December 10, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    Young Carrie Fisher…(?)

  32. Nan Stifel
    December 10, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    Carrie Fisher pre-Star Wars

  33. James Owen
    December 10, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    Wendy Phillips?

  34. Kimberly Gorski
    December 11, 2019 at 12:01 am

    Carrie Fisher-

  35. Cat
    December 11, 2019 at 12:09 am

    when I first looked at her I thought Marliw Thomas.

  36. shelley rae
    December 11, 2019 at 12:10 am

    Susan Sarandon, when she was in her 20s-30s

  37. Toni Fuscellaro
    December 11, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Looks like Dawn Wells from Mork & Mindy to me.

  38. Toni Fuscellaro
    December 11, 2019 at 12:29 am

    I meant to say Dawn Wells from Gilligans Island.
    Not Mork & Mindy.

  39. H Hendricks
    December 11, 2019 at 3:10 am

    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?

  40. Ksyo
    December 11, 2019 at 3:23 am

    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.

  41. Jerry
    December 11, 2019 at 8:24 am

    My first thought was Carrie Fisher.

  42. Brittany Stover
    December 11, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Diana Canova from ‘Soap’?

  43. Margaret Holdeman
    December 11, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Marisa Tomei

  44. P. Webb
    December 11, 2019 at 10:51 am

    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.

  45. Patty
    December 11, 2019 at 10:56 am

    Barbara Parkins, Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls

    December 11, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    I like Marlo Thomas. But am also leaning toward Natalie Wood

  47. Cary from the LC
    December 11, 2019 at 2:56 pm


  48. Fran Drabick
    December 11, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Dana Delany

  49. Thom Roser
    December 11, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    Dana Delany

  50. Thom Roser
    December 11, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Dana Delany “China Beach”

  51. Sheila
    December 11, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Suzanne Pleshette

  52. Amos
    December 12, 2019 at 5:23 am

    It’s Suzanne Pleshette

  53. lana
    December 12, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    She looks like Mary Mcdonnell, but I don’t think the timing is right -MM might be too young.

  54. Candy Eames
    December 12, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Looks much like Kristin Nelson i think.

  55. rlee
    December 13, 2019 at 10:21 am


  56. cyrilla
    December 13, 2019 at 11:16 am

    The actress is Carrie Fischer

  57. mary ann thompson
    December 13, 2019 at 11:30 am

    claudine longet

  58. Clydene Chinetti
    December 13, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    Is she the young Jessica Walter.

  59. Clydene Chinetti
    December 13, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    Could she be Connie Sellecca?

  60. Clydene Chinetti
    December 14, 2019 at 12:29 am

    I may have put Pickford in a previous post. I meant Bette Davis. Sorry.

  61. Tony
    December 14, 2019 at 3:36 am

    Caitlin O’Heaney

  62. Catherine R
    December 15, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Young Carrie Fisher (you said 14) with make up.

  63. Robert Wasikiewicz
    December 15, 2019 at 10:10 am

    This picture looks like a photo you’d have seen in Popular Photography in the 70’s

  64. Gustav
    December 15, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Claudine Longet

  65. Burton Cromer
    December 15, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    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.

  66. nelle
    December 15, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    I don’t think it is her (lips are too thin), but my first thought was Ali McGraw.

  67. Norman Metzger
    December 16, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Natalie Wood.

  68. Christoph Hilse
    December 16, 2019 at 8:03 am

    What about Julia Roberts? Maybe, the picture is taken in the early 80s?

  69. V
    December 16, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Linda Wilson, Tom Hanks wife.

  70. Margaret
    December 16, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Dana Delaney

  71. Marilyn Kitlas
    December 17, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Could this be Susan Strasberg?

  72. Patty
    December 17, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Susan Strasberg?

  73. Cary from the LC
    December 18, 2019 at 10:46 am


  74. tucsonbarbara
    December 19, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    My guess is Tisha Sterling, daughter of Robert Sterling and Ann Sothern.

  75. Burton Peretti
    December 20, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Kitty Winn? See IMDb photos

  76. Marc Knowles
    December 25, 2019 at 6:23 am

    Donna Mills

  77. CARY at the Library
    December 31, 2019 at 9:21 am


  78. tentykells
    January 6, 2020 at 3:39 am

    Daphne Zuniga?

  79. nelle
    January 9, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Catherine Deneuve in a brunette phase

  80. nelle
    January 13, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    A clue. Catherine is wearing a marinière, a striped French sailor shirt. She also adores art, hence holding a framed canvas.

  81. Glenn Kenny
    January 15, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    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.

  82. Glenn Kenny
    January 19, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Then again, if the picture is indeed from 1970 or so, no way. Oh well.

  83. nelle
    January 19, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Yes, Catherine Deneuve is a natural brunette.

  84. Mike Colavito
    February 7, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Marisa Tomei

  85. eva burris
    May 5, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    Marisa Tomei

  86. nelle
    May 17, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    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.

  87. Brian Norton
    June 28, 2020 at 5:25 am

    She played in “Yours Mine & Ours” the daughter named Rosemary. Her name at that time was Nancy Roth.

    • Neely Tucker
      June 29, 2020 at 9:22 am

      Thanks for the suggestion…check the blog later today, as we’ve *finally* identified her!

  88. Catherine G Kent
    July 18, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Hi folks. Just popped in to see if there was an answer to who this woman is. Stay safe.

  89. Marcia
    March 25, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    I believe it’s Kim Darby. she was in True Grit, among other things.

  90. Victoria
    January 29, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    Barbara Parkins is an excellent guess.

  91. Christina Jebali
    October 7, 2022 at 2:41 am

    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.

  92. Lance
    November 2, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    Please see Nancy Roth- “Streets of San Francisco” Episode: “Legion of the Lost” S1-E27

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