Many bodies have emerged from the Seine -
suicides, victims of accident or murder. The film
"Death in the Seine" examines the lives of just a
fraction of the 306 bodies taken from the river
from April 1795 to September 1801 - a mere six
years. These victims were recorded by the
attendants - Bouille and Daude - in the mortuary -
if the bodies were identified the men jotted down
details of their lives.

The unknown girl of the Seine died a hundred
years after this pair wrote their fragmentary and
pathetic biographies. Through this time the bodies
brought from the river were still placed out in the
mortuary behind Notre-Dame in the hopes that
they would be identified, and the Sunday stroll
through the morgue was one of the attractions for
all classes: "the allegedly serious business of
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Quiz #132 Results
identifying corpses {turned} into a spectacle"2. None of the thousands who passed
through each day and viewed this particular young girl came forward to identify her.

Eventually a death mask was taken - whether because this was standard procedure or
because of the haunting beauty of the face is not certain. She was recorded in the
morgue's books as "ecadavre feminin inconnu" - an unknown female body. The body
was buried in an unmarked grave. The mask was copied countless times - hanging in
art studios and sitting rooms, till the unknown girl of the Seine was one of the most
recognisable faces of Europe.

Because no one knew the woman's identity she acquired the name "L'inconnue de la
Seine". One theory has her as a Hungarian music hall artist who performed at the
famous Funambules theatre, and had an affair with a wealthy married Parisian called
Roland Vittes. He, so the story goes, was unsuccessfully blackmailed by one Louis
Argon, a convicted criminal. Either of these men could have killed her and dumped her
in the Seine. But there were no marks of violence on her body, and so it was generally
Answer to Quiz #132 - October 29, 2007
The face on this death mask of an unknown woman
is the most kissed of all time.
I predict quiz #132 will be another winner because although it was not too difficult, you
will receive a great variety of interesting and unusual responses from the quizmasters
--some of them may know of situations where CPR training with Anne has led to the
saving of a life. Dr. Archer Gordon's account from 1960 when he first learned about
Resusci-Anne and Asmund Laerdal from Norway is paramount.                  
Stan Read

I, myself have kissed Annie.  Not bad but lacking true passion. LOL             
Jim Kiser

Apparently, the face from the death mask of an unknown woman was used by a
toymaker for the face of the RescusiAnnie. This supposedly makes it the most kissed
face.  (I thought she looked familiar.)                                                   
John Chulick

I have trained on Resusci Anne manny times and to find out that her face is that of a
beautiful drowned girl from the turn of the 19th century is just a little overwhelming.  
My thanks to her and her contribution to the world.                             
Rhonda Taylor

Very cool! I never knew this.                                                                 Mary South

Although I too have kissed this woman, I didn't realize who it was at the time... or until
now for that matter... Interesting history... Fun one!  But!  This one was too easy...
Suzan Farris
Wow! How easy this was to find. I googled "death mask" and on the first page found
the Britannica MetaFilter site giving the information about Resusci Anne.
Venita Wilson

Of all the quizes I have done here, this was the easiest to find -- with a single Google
search.  But, it gave me a glimpse into an interesting niche of our past.  I never realized
that this oddly familiar face was considered the epitome of beauty at the end of the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries!  And, it was the inspiration of hoards of artists.
How neat that L'Inconnue de la Seine was immortalized in this way!
Mike Swierczewski
This was waaaay too easy for me. I remembered something about it from my CPR
class last year and a search of woman death mask kissed turned up numerous entries.  
I think it is amazing that someone saved her face and it has become so famous,
especially if you believe she died of suicide. She is so beautiful but must have been very
sad and unhappy with her life.                                                             
Dawn Carlile

It really is an interesting story--and strange that it is an unknown person whose face is
so ubiquitous.  You are right--it would be fascinating to learn more about her and her
family, and it's pretty frustrating that her trail deadends at her death mask.   
Katie Ash

It really is a great story and so sad.  Her smile is definitely haunting.  I spent about an
hour reading about her before I even remembered to answer the quiz!  Thank you again
for leading me to some great history.                                                     
Alison Lillie

There are a lot interesting stories on wikipedia about this mask. I usually end up
clicking on most of the links on wikipedia and spending way too much time looking at
other did I get to wills of famous people? I guess it's all educational, right?
Gwen Upton
Oh yes...  I am in total agreement with you regarding the credibility of the Ewa Lazlo story.  
Especially nowadays when anyone can post a webpage, make up some figures and facts that
look official but are totally fictitious. I suppose I should have been more clear that I was just
following a trail of one of the "urban legends" I had previously heard regarding L'Inconnue's
true identity, and speculating on whether it could lead somewhere. I am looking forward to
what you have in store for next week's
Comments from Out Readers
Editorial: Pitt pioneer/
The doctor whose legacy was CPR
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
August 11, 2003
N.B. This story sounds a little too pat for me.  
Don't rush to believe it.
                   Colleen Fitzpatrick
                   Quizmaster General
The Ewa Laszlo Story
The discovery of the body of a young woman in
the Seine was in itself unremarkable, and yet her
identity and the circumstances surrounding her
death haunted the popular imagination for nearly
a century, until this photograph came to light in
Latin America. Moved by her beauty and
serenity, an attendant at the city morgue had
taken a death mask from her face and later
mass-produced, it became a curio to be seen in
houses across France. A number of writers
fabricated fictions around her life and Man Ray
even attempted a photographic resurrection but
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Ashley & Jina
Rick's Quiz Angels ace another one!!!..

Stan Read                Paula Harris
Jim Kiser                Bob Craig
Elena O'Curry                Jen Paolilli
Mary Fraser                Fred Stuart
Eric McElroy                Jinny Collins
Brian Kemp                Erica Augustine
Ruth Govorchin                John Chulick
Karne Kay Bunting                Corey Wisneski
Robert McKenna                Judy Pfaff
Maria Davis                Richard Murray
Kitty Huddleston                Amy Gustavson
Michael Park                Brian Exelbierd
Mark Brzys                Chris Gotovac
Rhonda Taylor                Mary South
Bill Utterback                Betty Chambers
James Hrubesky                Bill Hurley
Joshua Kreitzer                Betty Ware
Marilyn Hamill                Clark Aycock
Suzan Farris                Mary Osmar
Sandy Thompson                Venita Wilson
Kelly Saderholm                Dave Richardson
Gary Sterne                Kelly Fetherlin
Maureen O'Connor                Mike Swierczewski
Sue Edminster                Marjorie Wilser
Dawn Carlile                Mark Ream
Katie Ash                Andy Hoh
Alison Lillie                Elaine C. Hebert
Clayton Sibbett                Kitty Huddleston
Karen Petrus                Debbie Sterbinsky
Mary Beth Emmerichs           Skip Brott    
Phyllis Barattia                Karen Rhea
Andy Hoh                Barbara Battles    
Gene Glass                Greg Webster
Dennis Brann                David Town
Diane Burkett             Dawn Colket
Jeff and Lisa Tawney                Anna Farris
Carl Blessing                Mike Dalton
Edee Scott                Erin McBroom
Stephanie Shaw                Richard Cleveland
Ryan Cook                Tye McQueen
John Roberts                Gwen Upton
Kae Gregis            Margaret English    
Cathy Miller         Donna Van Benschoten          
Sharon Martin                Grace Hertz
Sheri Fenley                Jancin Stuart
Evan Hindman                Polly Kimmitt
Pamela Hoffman
Though he was nominated three
times, Peter Safar never won the
Nobel Prize for medicine. He
should have, though,  because
because the work of the Pitt
physician who died Sunday from
cancer was used by ordinary
people to save countless lives.
For Further Reading

A Reader's Guide to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
Influence and authenticity of
l'Inconnue de la Seine
By Anja Zeidler

A Death Mask to Help Save Lives
(The Story of Resusci-Anne)
Archer S. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D
Pioneer in Resuscitation
The death mask is that of an unknown Parisian girl
who drowned in the River Seine in late 1800s.
She came known as L'Inconnue de la Seine.
The mask later became the face of the CPR Annie,
making her the most kissed girl in the world.
L'Inconnue de la Seine
by Geoff Watts
assumed that she must have
committed suicide, perhaps to
escape from some other
unrequited love affair, perhaps
from sheer poverty.

Although largely unknown
outside Europe, L'inconnue de
la Seine became something of
an icon in the France of the
1920s and 1930s. She
fascinated Albert Camus,
Anais Nin, Maurice Blanchot,
Rainer Maria Rilke and other
European poets and writers.
Among those inspired to
create fictional accounts of
the girl's death was the
Liverpool-born Richard le
Gallienne. His story tells how
the man who made the mask
fell in love with its deceased
subject, went mad, and
eventually followed her into
the Seine.

The German writer Reinhold
Conrad Muschler was another
who exploited the death as raw material for a story. The British literary critic Al Alvarez
describes his effort as "sickly": a tear jerker that was filmed soon after publication and
became a 1930s equivalent of Love Story. It's even suggested that L'Inconnue was the
erotic ideal of her day, with an influence similar to that of Brigitte Bardot in the 1950s.

It is at this point that the posthumous life of the girl in the Seine begins moving towards
her destiny in medicine. In the late 1950s two doctors, one American, one Norwegian,
met at a conference on anaesthetics being held in Norway. The American, Peter Safar
was among the pioneers of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; Bjørn Lind worked at the
hospital in Stavanger. Safar rightly believed that the best way of teaching people to
perform CPR would be to make a training mannequin. Lind said he knew of someone
who could do it: a man called Ãsmund Laerdal who also lived in Stavanger.

Laerdal, who had begun his career by studying marketing and advertising, ran a firm
that published children's books and made wooden toys. He had also moved into plastics
and begun to manufacture a range of toy cars and children's dolls. Among his biggest
successes was a doll marketed under the name "Anne". Keen to diversify his business,
he began making medical products: specifically plastic imitation wounds on which
members of the Norwegian Civil Defence could practise their first-aid skills. Would he
The Resuscitation Greats
Asmund S. Laerdal
Resuscitation 53 (2000) pp 115-119
Nina Tjomsland and Peter Baskett
consider making a resuscitation mannequin,
asked Lind.

Laerdal was enthusiastic. He had once rescued
his own two-year-old son Tore from
drowning, and then had to clear the child's
airways. For the next two years he worked on
developing a mannequin that looked realistic,
had a head that could be turned, and a chest
that would move as it was inflated. But what
gender should it be?

Not male, for sure. Macho men, Laerdal felt,
1. Introduction

In 1958, one of the most
fortuitous meetings in the history
of resuscitation occurred: Dr Peter
Safar from the United States, and
Dr Bjerrn Lind from the Stavanger
hospital, both attended a
conference.....            Read
Vintage Resusci Annie doll
for sale on eBay
might be reluctant to perform the kiss of life on a dummy of their own sex. It had to be
a woman, but with whose image? Laerdal already knew and had been moved by the
story of the girl in the Seine. Besides acting as a fitting memorial to L'inconnue, he
thought, a mannequin with attractive features (beautiful but not sexy, according to one
commentator) would be an added inducement to those learning the technique.

In choosing a name, Laerdal opted to stick with Anne, tagging "Resusci" at the front to
distinguish her from his more familiar doll. The new training mannequin began to sell
well in Norway. The US proved less susceptible to her charms. On Laerdal's first visit
he sold only one and that was at half price. It took several more years to convince the
US authorities. But Anne's submissive teaching eventually made its mark and began to
save American as well as European lives.

Resusci Anne acquired new talents. When researchers in the US showed that pressing
hard on the chest could maintain a flow blood to the brain, Laerdal modified his
mannequin to allow trainees to practise external chest compression as well as
ventilation. He developed a sibling for Anne, one that could generate an immediate
printout of the effectiveness with which users had
applied themselves to her. And there was even a happy
event: the birth of Resusci Baby.

Laerdal himself prospered. By the time he died in 1981
the company he had created was a market leader in
manufacturing all sorts of medical equipment. He had
also set up a foundation to support research and
education in emergency medicine.

There was a time when the recently deceased could be
hauled from their graves, and might finish their earthly
existence as material for medical research or for training
doctors in anatomy. By the time L'inconnue met her
watery demise, body snatching had ceased. But what
happened to her was not so very different. Her body was left intact but her identity was
stolen: after all, there was no one to give permission to use either her story or her face.
Laerdal probably imagined that by giving his mannequin the face of L'inconnue he was
paying tribute to a woman who should not have died. Or perhaps he liked the idea that,
like all those writers and poets, he could rewrite her story. The difference was that his
would have a happy ending.
to no avail, the puzzle remained

It was whilst in Buenos Aires,
attending a conference dedicated
to Jorge Luis Borges on The
Myth of the Gaucho, that Dr.
Harry Battley found this
carte-de-visite in a junk shop.
The face seemed familiar and on
returning to London he referred
to his copy of Das Ewige Antlitz
confirmed that this was indeed the young woman found in the Seine. His curiosity
roused, Battley determined to solve the mystery. Two clues within the picture proved
vital to his enquiry - the brooch worn by the woman and a contaminating fingerprint in
the fabric of the photograph that had become more visible with time. Battley discovered
that the setting was designed by Marcus Villard for a wealthy bon viveur, Monsieur
Roland Vittes. A visit to Vittes' elderly daughter allowed him access to her parents
papers, amongst which he found a note, from husband to wife, vehemently denying
acquaintance with 'the Hungarian woman Ewa Lazlo'. Further enquiries confirmed that
a music-hall artist of that name, whose description fitted the photograph, had
performed at the Theatre de Funambules during the summer in question. Although the
identity of L'inconnue seemed now to be established, the circumstances of her death
were not.

Battley naturally began his investigations into the fingerprint at the records office of the
Prefecture de Police in Paris but was disappointed to learn that they had not started
taking prints until 1913. An unexpected piece of good fortune awaited him in Argentina;
records went back to 1894 and the print was matched to that of a convicted
blackmailer, Louis Argon. It was Argon's bad luck that fleeing France he should pick
Buenos Aires where the Croatian immigrant Juan Vucetich was already operating his
comparative fingerprinting system within the police department. Dr. Battley asserts that
Argon escaped the country after a failed attempt to blackmail Vittes about his liaison
with the actress. The long held belief that L'Inconnue committed suicide now appears
less likely than that she met her end at the hands of Louis Argon. The records in
Buenos Aires also reveal that Argon was murdered in the last year of the century,
knifed in a bar-room brawl by a gaucho.
Lawrence Hutton
Collection of
Famous Life and
Death Masks
Isaac Newton
English Scientist
Death Mask
William Tecumseh
US General
Death Mask
Jonathan Swift
Irish Author
Death Mask
Ulysses S Grant
US General
Death Mask
Franz Liszt
Hungarian Composer
Death Mask
Abraham Lincoln
US President
Life Mask
Oliver Cromwell
English Statesman
Death Mask
John James Audubon
American Naturalist
Life Mask
Benjamin Franklin
American Statesman
Life Mask
Robert E. Lee
Confederate General
Life Mask