Died when: 87 years 58 days
Star Sign: Sagittarius
Anna Anderson (16 December 1896 – 12 February 1984) was the best known of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia. Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the last Emperor and Empress of Russia, Nicholas II and Alexandra, was murdered along with her parents and siblings on 17 July 1918 by communist revolutionaries in Yekaterinburg, Russia, but the location of her body was unknown until 2007. In 1920, Anderson was institutionalized in a mental hospital after a suicide attempt in Berlin. At first, she went by the name Fräulein Unbekannt (German for Miss Unknown) as she refused to reveal her identity. Later, she used the name Tschaikovsky and then Anderson. In March 1922, claims that Anderson was a Russian grand duchess first received public attention. Most members of Grand Duchess Anastasia's family and those who had known her, including court tutor Pierre Gilliard, said Anderson was an impostor but others were convinced she was Anastasia. In 1927, a private investigation funded by the Empress's brother, Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, identified Anderson as Franziska Schanzkowska, a Polish factory worker with a history of mental illness. After a lawsuit lasting many years, the German courts ruled that Anderson had failed to prove she was Anastasia, but through media coverage, her claim gained notoriety. Between 1922 and 1968, Anderson lived in Germany and the United States with various supporters and in nursing homes and sanatoria, including at least one asylum. She emigrated to the United States in 1968. Shortly before the expiration of her visa she married history professor Jack Manahan, who was later characterized as "probably Charlottesville's best-loved eccentric". Upon her death in 1984, Anderson's body was cremated, and her ashes were buried in the churchyard at Castle Seeon, Germany. After the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, the locations of the bodies of the Emperor, Empress, and all five of their children were revealed. Multiple laboratories in different countries confirmed their identity through DNA testing. DNA tests on a lock of Anderson's hair and surviving medical samples of her tissue showed that her DNA did not match that of the Romanov remains or that of living relatives of the Romanovs. Instead, Anderson's mitochondrial DNA matched that of Karl Maucher, a great-nephew of Franziska Schanzkowska. Most scientists, historians and journalists who have discussed the case accept that Anderson and Schanzkowska were the same person.