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Movie Star Mystery Photo

February 19, 2010 |  9:00 am

   Feb. 15, 2010, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: As many people guessed, this is Anna Sten, above, in a 1932 publicity photo.


Anna Sten; Actress Imported by Goldwyn

Tuesday November 16, 1993


2010_0219_mystery_photo_02 Anna Sten, the exotic and beautiful Russian actress brought to Hollywood by Samuel Goldwyn as a second Garbo but eventually tagged "Goldwyn's folly," has died. She was believed to be 84.

Miss Sten, who had lived in Beverly Hills for many years after her acting career sputtered out, died Friday in her Manhattan home of cardiac arrest.

The American producer brought her to Hollywood in the early 1930s and waged an extensive publicity campaign, determined to create another Garbo or Dietrich aura around the sultry beauty.

In 1934, Miss Sten starred in Goldwyn's "Nana" and "We Live Again," and a year later in his "The Wedding Night" with Gary Cooper, Ralph Bellamy and Walter Brennan.

Critic Leonard Maltin, commenting in his 1993 Movie and Video Guide, assailed the first film as "producer Samuel Goldwyn's first attempt to make a new Garbo out of exotic but wooden Sten." He dismissed the last as "producer Samuel Goldwyn's third and final attempt to make Anna Sten a new Garbo."

American audiences never warmed up to Miss Sten. Faced with poor box office response, Goldwyn conceded that he had made one of the few mistakes in his career--a costly one that led to Miss Sten's sobriquet in the industry as Goldwyn's folly. He terminated her contract.

Historians have variously recorded the actress's date of birth as 1907, 1908 or 1910, but generally accept that she was born Dec. 3, 1908, in Kiev, Ukraine. Named Annel (Anjuschka) Stenskaja Sudakevich, she was the daughter of a Russian ballet master and a Swedish mother.

After working as a waitress, she began her acting career with the Moscow Art Theatre and made her screen debut in the 1927 Russian film "The Girl With the Hat Box." With a few more Russian films on her resume, she went to Germany where her work in "The Murderer Dimitri Karamazov" caught Goldwyn's attention.

After Goldwyn dumped her, Miss Sten went to England, where she made "A Woman Alone" and "Two Who Dared" in 1936. She returned to the United States and made a few more films, some for her second husband, independent producer Eugene Frenke.

Her work included "Exile Express" in 1939, "The Man I Married" in 1940, "So Ends Our Night" in 1941, "Chetniks" and "They Came to Blow Up America" in 1943, "Three Russian Girls" in 1944, "Let's Live a Little" in 1948, "Soldier of Fortune" in 1955, "Runaway Girls" in 1956 and "The Nun and the Sergeant" in 1962.

In 1960, Miss Sten appeared briefly on Broadway as Jenny in "The Threepenny Opera" and toured with the play.

But she devoted most of her later life to semiprofessional painting.

Widowed at her death, Miss Sten had been married to Russian film director Fedor Ozep before her marriage to Frenke.

Just a reminder on how this works: I post the mystery photo on Monday and reveal the answer on Friday ... or on Saturday if I have a hard time picking only five pictures; sometimes it's difficult to choose. To keep the mystery photo from getting lost in the other entries, I move it from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday, etc., adding a photo every day.

I have to approve all comments, so if your guess is posted immediately, that means you're wrong. (And if a wrong guess has already been submitted by someone else, there's no point in submitting it again).

If you're right, you will have to wait until Friday. There's no need to submit your guess five times. Once is enough. The only reward is bragging rights. 

The answer to last week's mystery star: Louise Beavers!


Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Anna Sten in “Nana.”

Here’s another picture of our mystery woman.

Feb. 17, 2010, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Anna Sten and Robert Barrat in “School for Sabotage,” retitled “They Came to Blow Up America.”

Here’s another photo of our mystery guest with a mystery companion. Please congratulate Anne Papineau, Eve Golden, Dewey Webb, Nick Santa Maria, Pamela Porter, Jenny M, Kylie and Rick Scott for identifying her.

Feb. 18, 2010, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Anna Sten and Fredric March in a photo dated Aug. 6, 1934.

And here’s a photo of our mystery guest with a (not even slightly) mysterious companion. Please congratulate Mike Hawks and Mary Mallory for identifying her.

Feb. 19, 2010, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

An elegant picture of our mystery lady, Anna Sten, in a 1956 publicity photo for “Runaway Daughters.”   Please congratulate JPS, Carmen, Periwinkle, rdare, James Curtis, Agnieszka, William, Angus, Megan, Joan Y. Compagno, Dru Duniway and Krauma for identifying her.