Although the question of "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" has been answered plenty of times (in video game and TV show form), the question of who is Carmen Sandiego has been more difficult to respond to—until now.
While some famous actresses’ names (Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Lopez, for example) have been bandied about to play Carmen in a movie adaptation, one person has actually portrayed the character—an unidentified woman who starred as a shadowy, face-hidden version of the supervillain in the history-centric late '90s show Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? The Huffington Post reporter Todd Van Luling was finally able to track down Janine LaManna, the woman who played Carmen, and nabbed her first-ever interview about the role.
Here are a couple of the coolest tidbits LaManna revealed:
LaManna, whose name was listed in the credits as part of the ensemble cast, was essentially hiding in plain sight. She played a rotating series of good guy/helper characters, like Betsy Ross and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which threw off suspicion about her other, more important role on the show. Or perhaps it was an illustration of how heroes and villains aren’t as easy to tell apart as we think?
After ending her reign as Carmen Sandiego, LaManna primarily worked on the stage, appearing in musicals like Sweet Charity and The Drowsy Chaperone. She's in good company: Rita Moreno, who voiced Carmen in the animated series Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, is a Broadway veteran and Tony winner.
The Carmen set was fun to work on. LaManna speaks lovingly of Lynne Thigpen, the Tony-winning actress who played The Chief throughout the Carmen Sandiego universe (including Where in the World). "Watching her work, whenever she was in the room, that was so exciting," LaManna said of Thigpen, who died in 2003. "She was such an icon."
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There was another actress who played Carmen; LaManna only did one season of the show and left to go back to theater. When Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? got renewed, another actress—whose name we still don’t know—filled in for the remaining episodes.
Life did end up imitating art—sort of. After taking a break from performing, LaManna went off the grid. She doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account, and she married an army officer whose work, like Carmen’s, takes them all over the world. They’re probably not stealing the Great Wall of China while traveling, though.
And perhaps, with any luck, it could be time for Carmen Jr. LaManna and her husband have two children, and she says that her daughter is now the right age to get into the Carmen Sandiego shows and games. Considering how much '90s nostalgia is in the air right now, the show is totally due for a reboot.
[h/t The Huffington Post]