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Anna Anderson, Alias Anastasia

The real Anastasia, left, was 17 when she was executed. Anna Anderson, right, claimed to be her.

Left: AP Photo/File; Right: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

With the onslaught of the Russian Revolution, the existence of a royal family was intolerabl­e to the Bolsheviks. In 1918, they massacred the royal Romanov family -- Czar Nicholas II, his wife, son and four daughters -- to ensure that no legitimate heir could later resurface and rally the public for support.

Soon, rumors floated around that certain members of the royal family had escaped and survived. As one might expect, claimants came out of the woodwork. "Anna Anderson" was the most famous. In 1920, Anderson was admitted to a hospital after attempting suicide and confessed that she was Princess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the royal family. She stood out from other claimants because she held a certain resemblance to and surprising knowledge of the Russian family and life at court.

Although a few relatives and acquaintances who'd known Anastasia believed Anderson, most didn't. By 1927, an alleged former roommate of Anderson claimed that her name was Franziska Schanzkowska, not Anna and certainly not Anastasia [source: Aron]. This didn't stop Anderson from indulging in celebrity and attempting to cash in on a royal inheritance. She ultimately lost her case in the legal proceedings that dragged on for decades, but she stuck to her story until her death in 1984. Years later, upon the discovery of what proved to be the remains of the royal family, DNA tests confirmed her to be a fake. In 2009, experts were able to finally confirm that all remains have been found and that no family member escaped execution in 1918 [source: CNN].

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