The Biggest Carmen Sandiego Mystery Has Finally Been Solved

carmen sandiego cartoon

Anytime somebody was talking about the international criminal Carmen Sandiego, there is always a question involved across all media, mostly when and where she is in the world, or in the timeline. But there are other inquiries to be drawn up here, such as who she is, particularly when it comes to her live-action existence on the small screen in the game show Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, on which the actress who played her in live-action for the first time was uncredited. And also, why was she uncredited? And also, how was she...well, I guess that was just a matter of not indicating who the actress played. In any case, those questions have been answered.

Okay, so the part about her identity had been mostly solved before, as actress Janine LaManna is credited with the role on certain websites, but it doesn't appear that the show itself has ever officially made that declaration, according to the Huffington Post, whose delightfully obsessed Todd Van Luling went on a quest to track the actress down to get the first and possibly only press interview she'd ever given about playing Carmen Sandiego. And she was indeed tracked down, where she confirmed that she indeed donned the iconic red fedora and coat (and everything else), and also gave an explanation as to why the show not only kept the role anonymous, but also why she wasn't ever fully shown.

Because of the mysterious aspect of her, I don't think they ever wanted an actor to be [associated with Carmen]. They didn't ever want to reveal my face probably. Then you would reveal Carmen. But don't forget, the internet was not [as useful back then]. It wasn't that easy to find stuff. Everything had to go through the press.

Indeed. Wikipedia lists Janine Lamanna as Carmen Sandiego, but doesn't offer much else in that department, certainly not motivations for why the show would want to hide the real identity of a lawbreaker of such a high order. I mean, if they're hiding that, what else are they hiding?

where in time is carmen sandiego

And you might think that even just showing Lamanna's face without associating her name with it would be enough, but playing Carmen Sandiego was hardly the only time that the actress put in onscreen. Lamanna says she filmed all of the Carmen moments before the season began, and then played a handful of other roles when the episodes were taping. And she not only played historical characters that were tied to the cases, but also one-off personalities that would assist the contestants on their missions. All kids know Lady Byron like the back of their hand, right?

Lamanna mostly took to the stage for theater work after that, later leaving acting behind completely, staying off of social media in the meantime. It's not every day you learn more than you ever have about the identity of a master thief known for stealing the Eiffel Tower and shit like that. So many people have tried to track Carmen Sandiego down during their youths, but it sometimes takes an adult mind to go deeper than the computer game's instructions ever advised you to.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.