Mystery Photo Contest, Super Difficult Edition

Cary O’Dell at the Library’s National Recording Registry is the maestro of our Mystery Photo Contest. He recently wrote about the early film actress Florence McFadden. He’s back with another round.

Hello All!

Need a project to work on? The Moving Image, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division is back with some super obscure photographs that need identifying. We’ve had a run of successes of late, identifying everyone from silent film director Charles Brabin to modern-day actress Wendy Phillips, and we’re looking to continue the trend.

To review: We found each of these photos within a much larger collection of film, TV, music and stage stills.  But while the majority of those photos were ID’ed, some 800 were not. With your help, we’ve identified all but 38. That’s amazing — roughly 95 percent solved — but there’s still the last few.

So let’s get cracking! Below is a selection of 12 of the last 38. Please take a glance to see if anyone looks familiar.  I’m happy to follow up on any reasonable suggestion.  As always,  we’ll post updates as solutions (hopefully) are found!

Many thanks and happy hunting!

#1. We thought the man at left was American actor Michael Murphy, who often plays morally dubious characters. He was in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” Robert Altman’s “Nashville,” and in Marvel’s “X-Men: The Last Stand,” among dozens of  television appearances. The only problem with this theory is that we asked Murphy and he said it wasn’t him. Rats.

So who is this dapper, thoughtful gent? He’s got a swell bow tie and a sensible haircut.  Character actor? Television weatherman?  (FYI, his lapel pin is generic and doesn’t offer any clues.)





#2. I always thought the woman in the photograph at right looked like she was an opera singer. That bouffant, the upward gaze, the hand at the chest…it’s the mid-century “I am a sensitive artiste” head shot. It’d look swell on a theater program.

Alas, that’s just a guess. It could be as wrong as the theory on Michael Murphy. So far, we can’t put a name to the face.







#3.  No, we don’t quite know what is going on in this photo, either. Nor do we have any idea of who, or what, this trio might be out to accomplish.  A band?  Acrobats?  Comic trio? Chippendales dancers?

Okay, probably not Chippendales. But, unless you guys have a clue, we’re stuck.




#4.  This gentleman might be a behind-the-scenes type (photos of a few have been found in this collection).  Could he be a director, producer, screenwriter? Although, it has to be said, he could have played the George Costanza role if “Seinfeld” had been shot in the ’70s or early ’80s (with apologies to Jason Alexander, who played the actual George).






#5. This lady with the hoop earrings is NOT Phylicia Rashad (although that’s an excellent guess, which many people have already made). Nor is it Debbie Allen or Anna Maria Horsford.  We’ve checked with all of them and they said, “Not me.”  She looks so familiar, though. Maybe a television reporter/anchor, or played one on TV?







#6.  Another gentleman who might be a behind-the-scenes player or maybe a movie or music exec.  (It is not the late Dave Thomas of Wendy’s fame; we checked.)







#7. This photo has reminded many of an ‘80s comedy but who knows?  The charm hanging from the grad’s cap does say “’86,” if that helps.  If we can ID any of these women—or any of the men behind them—we can probably solve the whole thing.

#8. This photo has proved particularly difficult.  The code on the film indicates that it was taken circa 1998.  So far we know it is NOT any of the following men (because we checked with each):  Thomas Jane, Ben Thompson, Christopher Lambert, Jack Noseworthy, Thomas Haden Church, Taylor Sheridan, Jon Bon Jovi, Ben Mendelsohn, Nicholas Farrell or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.  So…who is it?

#9. We assume this is a music group of some sort.  It just sort of screams late ’80s indie rock, doesn’t it? Moody, dark stuff, and the lead singer screams a lot? Or plays violin solos? Maybe they never quite broke through but they must have played someplace.  Anyone know them individually or as a unit?

#10. The above seems to be some sort of production of “Knickerbocker Holiday” but it does not sync up with the 1938 Broadway version, the 1944 film version, or the 1950 TV version.  Based upon the minimal set, might this be a sort of play-within-a-film?  If we could ID any of these actors, it might be the key to ID-ing the entire production.

#11.Who is this man, at left, behind the camera?  He has looked vaguely familiar to several readers, who have ventured guesses that, alas, have not panned out. We can confirm that he is not the prolific screenwriter Ben Maddow; CBS News president Fred Friendly; or the French film director Rouben Mamoulian.  An interesting, identifying detail of this gentleman, by the way, is his utter lack of earlobes. Also, that coat/jacket thing looks totally hip.






#12. As shown at right here, we have a series of shots of this charming young woman — an actress? –  showing her various “looks” and versatility.  She seems the good-natured girl-next-door type. What we don’t have is a name.

And that’s it! Guesses in the comments, please. I’ll report back with any solved mysteries.






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