Mystery Photo Contest: Nearing the End!

Cary O’Dell at the Library’s National Recording Registry runs our Mystery Photo Contest. He’s back with a batch of our toughest cold cases.

Regular readers know of our (thankfully shrinking!) collection of mystery photos. With your help over the past few years, we’ve knocked this particular list down from over 800 photographs of unidentified people or groups to fewer than 30. You all have done a fine job. Everyone gets a trophy!

But a few still linger. These are photographs from the entertainment industry that came to us in a huge cache of photos,and they seem so … so … solvable, but still remain unidentified. If you think you might have already seen these, it’s probably because we’ve posted all of them before. But because we don’t give up – and we know you don’t either – we’re giving some of them one final spin. Care to try your luck?

As always, please give us your best guess in the comments. We’ll let you know of any success stories.

This lady with the winsome smile was probably an actress in the silent film era, or maybe in the early talkies. It’s a professional head shot, so she at least got a start in the biz. But she could have been a singer, dancer, model or a regional theater actress who never got very far. Suggestions have included Jeanette Loff, Edwina Booth and Isabel Jewel. Alas, none are correct.

Ah, yes, this one. Everybody thinks they know this one. Except, it turns out, they don’t. It’s something of a record-setter for incorrect guesses, perhaps rivaled only by the “world’s most mysterious woman” photo, which we eventually identified.

This is a punk-ish/New Wave duo for sure. Gotta be the ’80s, right? Maybe the early ’90s? They’ve got that androgyny thing going, as we’re not sure if this is two men, two women or one of each. The vibe is totally musicians with attitude, but for all we know it’s a couple of leads from a TV pilot that never took off.

Here’s the aforementioned list incorrect guesses (we’ve checked with the people named). Take a deep breath: Wendy & Lisa, Joan Jett, Karla Bonoff, T-Rex, Heart, Suicide, The Throbs, The Slits, Scarlet Fantastic, Strawberry Switchblade, Sparks, Tik and Tok, Alannah Myles, The Motels, the New York Dolls, Christian Death, Love and Rockets, the Jacobites, Sisters of Mercy, Haysi Fantayzee, Book of Love, David Johansen, Dogs D’Amore, Dweezil Zappa, Face to Face, The Hangmen, Ian Hunter, Izzy Stradlin,  Kings of the Sun, L.A. Guns, Michael Des Barres, Mickey Thomas, Peaches, Paul Westerberg, Paul Hardcastle,  Richard Hell, Rough Trade, Suicide, Tom Keifer, and, finally, The Waitresses.

PHEW.

Meanwhile, I have inquired of, but not heard back from, the following acts, all of whom readers have suggested: 39 Clocks, Balaam and the Angel, Edn Ozn, Fashion, Faster Pussycat, Lady Wreckless, Main Street Preachers and The Cut.

One free can of hair spray to whoever figures out who these two are!

Oh, yeah. This guy. We’ve been all over the country trying to peg him. The various wall hangings have given us clues that range from New York to Nebraska, but we’re still at nada. The lapel pin and one of the certificates one the wall indicate he’s a member of the Masons, that’s about the only solid lead we’ve gotten. That looks like a contract that he’s pretending to look over. Our cache of stills included several people who worked behind the camera or in the front office of the entertainment industry. We’re guessing he’s one of those.

How can this group remain unknown? This band (we assume) never caught on with the masses, I guess.  But they must have played a few gigs someplace. Does anyone know who they are collectively or individually?  Bear in mind that they might not hail from the U.S.

This earnest-looking gentleman appears to been photographed at a news event of some kind, given the angle of the shot and the fact that he’s not posed. It’s in black and white, but it’s clearly in the modern era. We know he’s NOT the founder of Wendy’s, Dave Thomas (as many people have guessed). He is also neither Henry Kissinger nor William Rehnquist, two other guesses that have come down the pike. An entertainment lawyer announcing a merger? Your guess is as good as, and probably better than, ours.

The man with the camera remains a mystery to us. It’s a staged photo — nice lighting! — but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a famous photographer, cinematographer or director. It could have been part of his publicity kit. He appears young, so maybe he didn’t stay in the business that long. Hard to pin down the era, too, though the watch would be a clue.

Okay, so if the man above was likely behind the camera, it seems equally likely this lady was in front of it. Surely a performer of some type, and the pose suggests the opera or theater. The bouffant suggests a time period between World War II through the early ’70s. But again, a tough one. She might have been a regional performer. This glamour shot might have been for a project that never got off the ground. She’s one of the mystery photos that hasn’t drawn many suggestions.

There were several shots in our original batch of photos that showed this young woman showing off her various looks, as one would include in a portfolio.  That said, we don’t know if that portfolio ever resulted in any work. We know she is NOT Ashley Judd or “Alf” actress Andrea Elson (although that is a very good guess), but that’s about it.

Let us know your best guesses in the comments, we’ll run down any fresh leads and report back. Good luck!

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100 Comments

  1. Patricia Coyne
    April 21, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Young man with camera – Alfred Stieglitz?

  2. mike ruane
    April 21, 2021 at 9:17 am

    Robert Hazzard on the left of the two punk rockeres?

  3. PN Deal
    April 21, 2021 at 9:22 am

    The gentlemen with glasses and stripped tie is Ed Muskie.

  4. Brad Wilson
    April 21, 2021 at 9:55 am

    Could the punkers be Robert Mapplethorpe (left) and Patti Smith? I’m not sure Smith’s face was ever that full, but the gentle scowl suggests, well, maybe.

  5. Rosemarie T Frisone
    April 21, 2021 at 10:03 am

    Is the last photo Jill Hennessy?

  6. Carl Olson
    April 21, 2021 at 10:07 am

    This last one could be Keri Russell. I googled Young Keri Russell and got a high school photo with similar nose and jaw line. She started on the Micki Mouse Club, 1991 to 1993. Leather jackets were still in, circa 1994-7.

  7. Pete Durantine
    April 21, 2021 at 10:28 am

    In the second photo, could the two women in sunglasses actually be men?

  8. Monte Wasch
    April 21, 2021 at 10:53 am

    Could the young woman in the cut-off shorts and shiny jacket be Debra Winger?

  9. CARY AT THE LC
    April 21, 2021 at 10:56 am

    Thanks for the suggestions so far. Keep ’em coming! I’ll reach out re: Jill H. As for photo #2–we don’t know if it’s two men or two women or one of each!

  10. steven davis
    April 21, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    The group with the woman, w/ four men behind her. The guy over her right shoulder looks like Andrew Wood from Mother Love Bone.

  11. steven davis
    April 21, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    The photographer may have been aspiring or a hobbyist because that looks like a teenager.

  12. Heather Farris
    April 21, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    Could the two rockers be members of the band Cinderella?

  13. Spring
    April 21, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    The two “Punk rockers” look like Patrick Swayze and Lea Thompson just by the shape of the mouths. Then again…. hmmm

  14. Carole Sharp
    April 21, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    The first picture is really like British golden age movie star Anna Neagle.

  15. Carole Sharp
    April 21, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    The first photo is very like the British actress Anna Neagle.

  16. plateofshrimp
    April 21, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    The leather jacket twins are two women

  17. alison o’n
    April 21, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    hi, probably a daft suggestion:
    for the 1980s style duo in leather jackets – could the one on the right looking directly into the camera with mirror shades be sigourney weaver? something similar about the mouth/nose/jaw.
    am asking my gothier friends about the band. briefly thought of spk but they were a 3-piece and looked slightly different.
    good luck!

  18. christina
    April 21, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    The five member band picture – the man to the right of the woman looks like the singer of the band Men without Hats.

  19. Richard
    April 21, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    The last photo reminds me of a very young Deborah Messing.

  20. CARY AT THE LC
    April 21, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    THANKS FOR ALL THE SUGGESTIONS! KEEP ‘EM COMING!
    Sigorney’s people said it was not her in that one photo. Keri R.’s people said it was not her in that other pic. 🙁

  21. Cynthia Prosser
    April 21, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    The last woman in the jacket and shorts – Cote de Pablo?

  22. Cecily G
    April 21, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    The opera/theatre lady might be Marge Rivingston. I only knew her later in life and have some younger photos of her from her book, but none from that angle

  23. Lanika
    April 21, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    The last picture reminds me of end-80s early 90s photoshoots by Ford Models. The high-waist short was a reminder of the 80s, the waistline dropped fast in the 90s. I’d peg it at around 1993. Aviator jackets were fashionable after Top Gun and Madonna brought the perfecto jacket style back to fashion around early 90s too. By the look of it, pretty sure it was before grunge.

    Pretty sure it’s a model book more than an actress book.

  24. Victoria J Nicholson
    April 21, 2021 at 7:30 pm

    Could the rocker couple be from the band Eve Moon?

  25. Jason
    April 21, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    Last picture, a young woman in a jacket. Maybe Rebecca Schaeffer stared in “My Sister Sam” and was murdered by her stalker in 1989.

  26. Erin Craven
    April 21, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    Is the last photo of the smiling woman in the leather jacket Kimberly Williams?

  27. Donnovan Knight
    April 21, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    I think the man with the camera is Fernand Fonssagrives (French 1910 – 2003), using that image in a search the second photo I saw seems to be the same man older, similar pose with an old style camera, nose and face seem to be the same.

  28. TinaUofA
    April 21, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    Re: “This guy.” He’s at the desk with the papers. I only have Paint, but I turned the paper right side up and the top left appears to be a photo of him at a typewriter. The pencil sharpener on the back of the door might indicate a wordsmith of some kind…a publicist? Perhaps, someone with better software like Photoshop can make out the name of the company. The first word looks like 4 letters ending in “O.” Maybe Nino?? The second word looks like 2 letters… TO or SO?? The last word might start with an “H” or “K.” It’s in a funky font and is reversed. Is that a diamond wedding ring? Perhaps, an indication of a successful career?

  29. Donnovan Knight
    April 21, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    Second photo, two people in sun glasses. Going to take a pretty wild guess here, but I kind of think the person on the left looks like Jason Patric possibly right after Lost Boys was filmed, but prior to his next movie.

  30. Jason
    April 21, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    The band with four men and a woman maybe the band Children of Bodom with Kimberly Goss or one of the variations like Sinergy that she has worked with.

  31. Donnovan Knight
    April 21, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    For the last photo, I would second the guess of Kimberly Williams, that smile seems very similar, likely around the time of Father of the Bride, for reference.

  32. Pea Hicks
    April 21, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    Forget the ladies in the leather jackets, I want to know the identity of the guys reflected in the lady on the right’s glasses! 🙂

  33. Donnovan Knight
    April 21, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    Going to try for two at once here, last for the night. Going on the 2 head shots of the women. The first, Bette Davis, something about the teeth make me think that. The second, Jacqueline Logan.

  34. Slim Dunk
    April 21, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    the new wave duo could be Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart

  35. Angela Tarrance
    April 21, 2021 at 10:36 pm

    I was thinking the last girl looks like a younger Rebecca Ferguson from Doctor Sleep.

  36. Donnovan Knight
    April 21, 2021 at 10:55 pm

    I’m doubling down on the second photo being Jason Patric and the person the right being Jami Gertz, her nose seems similar. Now I’m done for the night.

  37. Sarah
    April 21, 2021 at 11:30 pm

    2nd photo – could the one on the left be Cher?

  38. Karen
    April 21, 2021 at 11:32 pm

    Could one of the duo in sunglasses be Frances McDormand?

  39. Dave
    April 21, 2021 at 11:43 pm

    Any chance the last photo is Connie Young from Troll 2? She always reminded me of the actress from ALF.

  40. Trig
    April 22, 2021 at 12:02 am

    No help with ID, but just FYI saying “we’ve been all over the country trying to peg him” has a different meaning than you might intend.

  41. James Leese
    April 22, 2021 at 12:22 am

    Could the last girl be Rebecca Schaeffer? The young lady from “My Sister Sam” who was murdered?

  42. steve coon
    April 22, 2021 at 12:36 am

    The man on the left of the unknown band looks like a young Jeff Goldblum.

  43. KB
    April 22, 2021 at 12:55 am

    The two hair rockers are Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, the members of the Jimi Hendrix ‘ “Experience”.

  44. Max Webster
    April 22, 2021 at 3:01 am

    For the androgynous punkers, have we considered early Carole Pope of Rough Trade? Or even Grace Slick.

  45. Eric Danielson
    April 22, 2021 at 3:45 am

    Regarding previous comment by Steven Davis, that is most definitely NOT Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone.

  46. Ang
    April 22, 2021 at 4:56 am

    The last photo HAS to be Jill Hennessy. The woman in the photo has a vein on her forehead that Jill H has well.

  47. Amy A.
    April 22, 2021 at 5:38 am

    Photo #3 It looks like Stephen Smith, former Middlesex County, Massachusetts legislator, but it most likely is his father or other relative.

  48. Brendan
    April 22, 2021 at 5:43 am

    The Dwight Twilley Band for the two with the shades.

  49. RealRennyT
    April 22, 2021 at 6:13 am

    Second pic of the “rockers”. If the right one isn’t Lea Thompson, back to the future era, I am shocked.

  50. Geoff
    April 22, 2021 at 7:08 am

    The person on the right in the “two rockers” photo looks like a young Frances McDormond around the mouth and jaw.

  51. BusyStephie
    April 22, 2021 at 7:30 am

    Could the second image be The Slits?

  52. David
    April 22, 2021 at 9:17 am

    I’m pretty sure the Mason’s “contract” says across the top “Memo to Recorders”. I Googled that phrase and got results related to the Knights Templar, but nothing concrete. See image at https://imgur.com/EAd2jCu

  53. David Armstrong
    April 22, 2021 at 10:11 am

    It took me a little while to place the bell that was ringing for me, but the person on the right in the goth/new wave couple seemed familiar to me. I know I’ve been warned that “everyone” feels like they know this one, but I’m still going to offer my guess– I think it’s Jean Louisa Kelly, the actress who played the teen niece of John Candy’s character in Uncle Buck. If I get it right, you can keep the Aqua Net!

  54. CARY AT THE LC
    April 22, 2021 at 10:44 am

    MANY THANKS FOR THE SUGGESTIONS AND HARD WORK. KEEP ‘EM COMIN’! AM FOLLOWING UP ON THEM NOW.

  55. Doug
    April 22, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    I think the photo you have listed as the glamour shot may be American actress Marie Wilson.
    Marie Wilson – IMDb
    https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0933810/

  56. Joe
    April 22, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    The photographer is using a Graflex Graphic View which was made from 1941-1949. His glasses seem closer to the later 40’s.
    Hope that helps.

    https://www.graflex.org/articles/graphic-view/

  57. Zyada
    April 22, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    I don’t have any guesses, but if you zoom in on the glasses of the right person in the punk rock pair, you can see the photographer. He is in front of a clapboard house and another person is with him.

    Definitely not a studio shot

    Maybe a newspaper shot for an article about an up and coming local band

  58. Walter DeBusque
    April 22, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    #2 is Michael Jackson on the left.

  59. Carolyn Smerczak
    April 22, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    I am still suggesting Suzi Quatro, and now also suggesting possibly with brother Mike Quatro, or one of her sisters from her band. Suzi toured Europe, Australia, and UK in late 1970’s, made some albums. I didn’t see her on your list of incorrect guesses or names awaiting a response, although I have suggested her once before. Sure would like to know if she was an incorrect guess.

  60. Jeffrey Dauber
    April 22, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    The man and woman at the top look like a young Robert Mapplethorpe with a young Patti Smith

  61. Carter Rawson
    April 22, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    The leather jacket duo reminds me of an early Indigo Girls publicity still. While I sort of doubt it’s them, I am also ruling out anyone to do with CBGB’s. There were enough leather jackets floating around middle America in the 1980’s (check the sunglasses) that NYC is the wrong place to look.

  62. CARY AT THE LC
    April 22, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Not the Dwight Twilly Band. 🙁

  63. CARY AT THE LC
    April 22, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    NOT the Slits either.

  64. CARY AT THE LC
    April 22, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    Not Eve Moon. (Though a lovely lady to talk to.)

  65. Alex
    April 22, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    The one of the two in sunglasses and leather jackets looks like Adrienne Barbeau and, I don’t know, a friend of hers.

  66. CARY AT THE LC
    April 22, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    Just heard back from his office: neither of the New Wavers above is Jason Patric. 🙁

  67. Carter Rawson
    April 23, 2021 at 9:06 am

    I am increasingly convinced it’s the Indigo Girls. I Googled up an Epic Records still from 1991 where Amy also has her eyes closed. It’s plausible that the mystery shot is from a promo kit during their touring “salad” days, prior to their “big break.” Thus was never in wide circulation. Good luck, Cary.

  68. Ali Darling
    April 23, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    I think the rock and roll duo are the young Hall and Oates. They are definitely two men. The dark haired one has an open shirt beneath the jacket.

  69. TinaUofA
    April 23, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    Re:Comment 52. Thank you, David, for getting the memo header translated! Good job!

  70. Donnovan Knight
    April 23, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    For the couple we so desparately want to know, as I see my guess was incorrect. I’d like to add that if we go based on clothing it should be a man and likely a woman. The top snap on the left person’s jacket would make that a man’s and the one for the person on the right seems to make their’s a woman’s.

  71. Donnovan Knight
    April 23, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    Another guess for the couple: Nikki Sixx or possibly Tommy Lee with Tawny Kitaen they dated in 1985, though not really sure about that one. But Motley Crue being a glam band, makeup and leather was very popular.

  72. CARY AT THE LC
    April 23, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    Not the Slits.

  73. CARY AT THE LC
    April 24, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    Woman is NOT Lea Thompson. : (

  74. Boulevardier
    April 24, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    Second pic: woman on left could be Margo Timmins from Cowboy Junkies.

  75. kathleen
    April 25, 2021 at 3:02 am

    The Mason guy has a tie tack, it looks like a face, like an actor symbol, but I can’t be sure. There is also a letter opener on the table to his left, it might have something inscribed on it, but I can’t tell with no special tech available to me.

  76. Molly
    April 25, 2021 at 11:09 am

    Not sure who both rockers are, but the front one looks like Freddie Mercury. The back one looks like Molly Ringwald, though, and I doubt that…

  77. Nicole
    April 26, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Is the woman on the right in the photo of the 2 women in leather jackets Frances McDormand? It really looks like her.

  78. Rebecca Tanen
    April 26, 2021 at 9:21 am

    The last photo looks like a Dawson’s Creek-era Kate Holmes.

  79. DALE SMITH
    April 26, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Image Number 1: Is This …Gene Harlow???
    Approximately Middle Image: 2 Long dark-haired pair wearing black leather:Do not know their actual Identities, however I suspect that both are female.
    Last Image:I do not yet know her actual identity, but please pardon next cliche: She looks extremely familiar. …Am going to strive to deduce just whom the others are. …May I inquire IF you know the actual identities of all these, please?–Am not trying to trick you into disclosing clues. ByeBye!!

  80. CARY AT THE LC
    April 26, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    No, we do not know who these people are and that’s why we are “crowd sourcing” for clues and answers and suggestions.

  81. Derek
    April 26, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    The “darkwave” duo: Isn’t it The Neon Judgement?

  82. CARY AT THE LC
    April 28, 2021 at 8:35 am

    Just heard back…not Neon Judgement. 🙁

  83. CARY AT THE LC
    April 28, 2021 at 3:03 pm

    Just heard back…not Frances McDormand. : (

  84. Tracy Bendle
    April 28, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    The first photo, the one of the silent film actress, looks a little like silent film actress Jane Novak.

  85. N House
    April 28, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    The woman in the leather jacket (part of the duo) reminds me of early-ish Kathy Mattea photos but once they had a makeup budget.

    Also reminds me of the Wilson sisters in Heart but more Nancy, except the hair color

  86. CARY AT THE LC
    April 28, 2021 at 10:03 pm

    Not Robert Hazzard.

  87. Christine Rompato
    April 29, 2021 at 11:11 am

    If the man with the Sesostris Temple certificate has a “Memo to Recorders,” then he’s probably a Shriner Recorder (the official office of secretary).

  88. CARY AT THE LC
    April 29, 2021 at 11:32 am

    Just heard back: Not Suzi Q.

  89. CARY AT THE LC
    April 30, 2021 at 11:41 am

    Just heard back from his daughter, NOT Fernand Fonssagrives. 🙁

  90. CARY AT THE LC
    April 30, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    Just heard back from his daughter: Not Fonssagrives.

  91. RenaissanceRed
    May 2, 2021 at 12:34 am

    Ok….probably a shot in the dark for the 5 piece band- Naked and Famous?

    The leather duo the person on the right gives me a strong Frances McDormand vibe.

  92. Pamela Rose
    May 2, 2021 at 4:24 am

    The lady in the 7th one down (below the photographer guy) looks like a young Margaret Thatcher.

    The girl in the shorts and leather jacket looks like a young Debra Winger.

  93. Courtney
    May 2, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    The first photo – I was thinking maybe a WAMPAS Baby Star. Maybe Dorothy Revier (same looking nose to me!) or Betty Francisco?

  94. DouglasG
    May 3, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    Could that group be some early Cass McCombs band? It has got to be something with Dave Grohl (far left) and John Turturro (far right) in it! (That last part is a joke.)

  95. Stuart Ure
    May 4, 2021 at 11:06 am

    The photo of the two goth rockers may be two members of the rock band, Faster Pussycat. Perhaps, Brent Muscat and Greg Steele? Worth looking at the cover of their first LP or promo photos of the band from around that time period.

  96. CARY AT THE LC
    May 6, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    NOT Faster Pussycat.

  97. CARY AT THE LC
    May 10, 2021 at 3:36 pm

    NOT Noel Redding.

  98. Jetamors
    May 11, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    Hey Cary, I don’t know if you saw it, but the last comment on the post with the 5-person band is from a bobby w: “#9 is Kazu Makino in the centre and Simone and Amedeo Pace behind her, they perform as Blonde Redhead”

    I didn’t check the guys, but looking at pictures of her, I think he’s right and Kazu Makino is the woman in the center.

  99. CARY AT THE LC
    May 12, 2021 at 9:48 am

    Actually, I checked with Kazu and Blonde Redhead and they said it wasn’t her/them. If I have learned anything in this long process, it is that there are some major lookalikes in the world. Thx.

  100. Jetamors
    May 12, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    Oh wow, she looks so similar! Thanks for confirming that it’s not her.

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