If you live in an English-speaking country, chances are you are familiar with the phrase “Annie, are you OK?” The phrase is used in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training courses and is a reference to the training mannequin which is called Resusci Anne (or just “Annie”).
But what’s the story behind its face?
Well, as it turns out, the face of Resusci Anne is based on the death mask of an unidentified woman whose body was found in the river Seine in the late 1880s. Here’s her story. (the article continues after the ad)
Some time in the late 1880s, the body of a young woman was recovered from the river Seine in Paris. She showed no signs of violence so suicide was suspected. As was the custom at the time, in order to be recognised, her body was put on display at the Paris mortuary.
But no one recognised her.
The enigmatic face of the girl intrigued the an on duty pathologist though, who decided to create a mold and make a death mask of the unknown girl. After it was completed, the mask appeared for sale outside the mouleurs’ workshop and it soon became a muse for artists. People even started comparing her enigmatic smile with that of Mona Lisa and she was given the name L’Inconnue de la Seine (The Unknown Woman of the Seine).
Years later, in 1955, Peter Safar and Asmund Laerdal, two Norwegian toy manufacturers, were approached to make a CPR training mannequin. Laerdal, who wanted a natural appearance on his model, felt that a female face would be more appropriate. He remembered a mask that his grandparents had hanging on their wall and Inconnue de la Seine became the face of Resusci Anne.
Today, since more than 300 million people have been trained in CPR, the face of the unknown woman is often called “the most kissed face of all time”.