8 Famous Figures Whose Identities Remain a Mystery

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The Man in the Iron Mask

King Louis XIV of France had a notorious prisoner with no name — and a mask covering his face. Some sources suggest he was forced to wear it. While the prisoner died and was buried at the Saint-Paul Cemetery in Paris in 1703, his secret identity gave rise to many theories, great stories, and works of art. In fact, his mask probably wasn’t made of iron at all, but became a popular myth thanks to the writings of Voltaire and Alexandre Dumas, History.com reports. Historians agree that the individual did exist.

He was probably wearing a black velvet mask to keep his identity a secret when he moved inside or outside the prison, according to National Geographic. Many claim that this man could have been anyone from a nobleman or a failed assassin, perhaps Louis XIV’s twin brother.


The Unknown Woman of the Seine

At the end of the 19th century, people found the body of an anonymous woman from the River Seine in France. They showed her at the Paris mortuary, hoping that someone would remember and recognize her, according to the BBC. And while no one recognized her, she caught the eye of a mortuary worker who had made a plaster mask of her face. The mask, which some refer to as

“Drowned Mona Lisa” or “L’Inconnue,” has become a cultural phenomenon that would inspire artists, poets, and fiction writers, as well as a particular toy maker.
Still doesn’t sound familiar? Here’s how you recognize her: a Norwegian toy manufacturer specializing in soft plastic created the first CPR mannequin— with an unknown woman’s face. The toy maker was inspired by the mask L’Inconnue hanging in his parents ‘ house. His creation has become the standard CPR dolls or the BBC’s “Rescue Annies.” A lot of people who know CPR don’t realize that the face of a safety doll belongs to a woman who drowned years before the existence of such techniques.


Babushka Lady

There are many still-unanswered questions about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That’s why the enigmatic identity of the woman who people call the “Babushka Lady” is so fascinating. The woman seen wearing an overcoat and scarf, resembling a Russian babushka, is seen in documentary footage holding a camera while approaching the motorcade at the time of Kennedy’s assassination, History.com reports.

While there has been one unsubstantiated claim, the true identity of the woman remains unknown. Not only has she never been found, but any potential footage she might have from that day is also missing, Mental Floss reports.

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