Tips&TricksFrom Seine's unsolved mystery to the world's most kissed face: The tale of 'Rescue Annie'

From Seine's unsolved mystery to the world's most kissed face: The tale of 'Rescue Annie'

Images source: © Getty Images, picryl | Wikimedia Commons, neirfy

7:28 AM EST, December 26, 2023

Near the close of the 19th century, all of Paris was abuzz with one event - the "Unknown Woman of the Seine." The lifeless body of a young girl, presumed to be around sixteen, was found in the river not far from the Louvre. Who this beautiful, drowned victim was and how she died remains an unsolved mystery.

The Mysterious Drowned Maiden

After her body was recovered, it was sent to the morgue and put on public display—a common practice at the time since it helped identify the deceased. Despite the unusual circumstances and anonymity, no one claimed the young girl. However, her delicate facial features, a playful smile, and a peaceful appearance that made her look asleep, drew significant attention. This is where the story diverges.

  • One version of events suggests that the doctor conducting the autopsy found her face ideal and hypnotically beautiful, so he commissioned a plaster cast of it.
  • The alternate version posits that it was the pathologist's student, taken by the beauty of the drowned maiden, who made the plaster cast to enshrine her.

Regardless of the truth, a plaster cast was made. Gradually, the likeness of the drowned girl began to appear in souvenir shops, being referred to as the "drowned Mona Lisa".

The Most Kissed Woman in the World

Interest in the "Unknown Woman of the Seine" didn't wane. In 1957, when a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation method was patented, there was a need for a life-sized mannequin for training. This mannequin was created by doctors James Elam and Peter Safar, and a mannequin designer, Asmund Laerdal. Laerdal chose the face of the beautiful drowned maiden from a painting he'd seen at his in-laws'. This face became the facade of female mannequins used for resuscitation training around the world, and was given the name "Anna." Today, she's likely the most kissed woman in the world.

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