Veronica Lake: American actor (born: 1922 - died: 1973) | Biography, Filmography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Veronica Lake
American actor

Veronica Lake

Veronica Lake
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor
A.K.A. Constance Frances Marie Ockelman
Was Actor Aviator Pilot Aircraft pilot Stage actor Television actor Model Film actor
From United States of America
Field Fashion Film, TV, Stage & Radio Military
Gender female
Birth 14 November 1922, New York City, New York, USA
Death 7 July 1973, Burlington, Chittenden County, Vermont, USA (aged 50 years)
Star sign Scorpio
Spouse: John S. Detlie (25 September 1940-2 December 1943)Andre DeToth (13 December 1944-2 June 1952)
Height: 1.4986 m
Miami High School
star on Hollywood Walk of Fame  
Veronica Lake
The details (from wikipedia)


Veronica Lake (born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman; November 14, 1922 – July 7, 1973) was an American film, stage, and television actress. Lake was best known for her femme fatale roles in film noirs with Alan Ladd during the 1940s and her peek-a-boo hairstyle. By the late 1940s, Lake's career began to decline, due in part to her alcoholism. She made only one film in the 1950s, but made several guest appearances on television. She returned to the big screen in 1966 in the film Footsteps in the Snow (1966), but the role failed to revitalize her career.

Lake's memoir, Veronica: The Autobiography of Veronica Lake, was published in 1970. Her final screen role was in a low-budget horror film, Flesh Feast (1970). After years of heavy drinking, Lake died at the age of 50 in July 1973, from hepatitis and acute kidney injury.


Lake was born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Her father, Harry Eugene Ockelman, was of German and Irish descent, and worked for an oil company aboard a ship. He died in an industrial explosion in Philadelphia in 1932. Lake's mother, Constance Frances Charlotta (née Trimble; 1902–1992), of Irish descent, married Anthony Keane, a newspaper staff artist, also of Irish descent, in 1933, and Lake began using his surname.

The Keanes lived in Saranac Lake, New York, where young Lake attended St. Bernard's School. She was then sent to Villa Maria, an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, from which she was expelled. Lake later claimed she attended McGill University and took a premed course for a year, intending to become a surgeon. This claim was included in several press biographies, although Lake later declared it was bogus. Lake subsequently apologized to the president of McGill, who was simply amused when she explained her habit of self-dramatizing. When her stepfather fell ill during her second year, the Keane family later moved to Miami, Florida. Lake attended Miami High School, where she was known for her beauty. She had a troubled childhood and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to her mother.

Film career

Constance Keane

In 1938, the Keanes moved to Beverly Hills, California. While briefly under contract to MGM, Lake enrolled in that studio's acting farm, the Bliss-Hayden School of Acting (now the Beverly Hills Playhouse). She made friends with a girl named Gwen Horn and accompanied her when Horn went to audition at RKO. She appeared in the play Thought for Food in January 1939. A theatre critic from the Los Angeles Times called her "a fetching little trick" for her appearance in She Made Her Bed.

Keane's first appearance on screen was as an extra for RKO, playing a small role as one of several students in the film Sorority House (1939). The part wound up being cut from the film, but she was encouraged to continue. Similar roles followed, including All Women Have Secrets (1939), Dancing Co-Ed (also 1939), Young as You Feel (1940), and Forty Little Mothers (also 1940). Forty Little Mothers was the first time she let her hair down on screen.

I Wanted Wings and stardom

Lake attracted the interest of Fred Wilcox, an assistant director, who shot a test scene of her performing from a play and showed it to an agent. The agent, in turn, showed it to producer Arthur Hornblow Jr., who was looking for a new girl to play the part of a nightclub singer in a military drama, I Wanted Wings (1940). The role would make Lake, still in her teens, a star. Hornblow changed the actress's name to Veronica Lake. According to him, her eyes, "calm and clear like a blue lake", were the inspiration for her new name.

It was during the filming of I Wanted Wings that Lake developed her signature look. Lake's long blonde hair accidentally fell over her right eye during a take and created a "peek-a-boo" effect. "I was playing a sympathetic drunk, I had my arm on a table ... it slipped ... and my hair — it was always baby fine and had this natural break — fell over my face ... It became my trademark and purely by accident", she recalled.

I Wanted Wings was a big hit. The hairstyle became Lake's trademark and was widely copied by women.

Even before the film came out, Lake was dubbed "the find of 1941". However, Lake did not think this meant she would have a long career and maintained her goal was to be a surgeon. "Only the older actors keep on a long time ... I don't want to hang on after I've reached a peak. I'll go back to medical school", she said.

Series of classic movies

Lake in her first starring role, opposite Joel McCrea in Sullivan's Travels (1941)

Paramount announced two follow-up movies, China Pass and Blonde Venus. Instead, Lake was cast in Preston Sturges's Sullivan's Travels with Joel McCrea. She was six months pregnant when filming began.

Paramount put Lake in a thriller, This Gun for Hire (1942), with Robert Preston as her love interest. However, she shared more scenes with Alan Ladd; the two of them were so popular together that they would be reteamed in lead roles for three more films. Both had cameos in Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), an all-star Paramount film.

Lake was meant to be reunited with McCrea in another comedy, I Married a Witch, (also 1942) produced by Sturges and directed by René Clair, but McCrea refused to act with her again, reportedly saying, "Life's too short for two films with Veronica Lake". Production was delayed, enabling Lake to be reunited with Ladd in The Glass Key (again 1942), replacing Patricia Morison. The male lead in I Married a Witch was eventually played by Fredric March and the resulting movie, like The Glass Key, was successful at the box office. René Clair, the director of I Married a Witch, said of Lake, "She was a very gifted girl, but she didn't believe she was gifted."

Lake was meant to co-star with Charles Boyer in Hong Kong for Arthur Hornblow, but it was not made. She received acclaim for her part as a suicidal nurse in So Proudly We Hail! (1943). At the peak of her career, she earned $4,500 a week.

Lake had a complex personality and acquired a reputation for being difficult to work with. Eddie Bracken, her co-star in Star Spangled Rhythm, in which Lake appeared in a musical number, was quoted as saying, "She was known as 'The Bitch' and she deserved the title." However, Lake and McCrea did make another film together, Ramrod (1947). During filming of The Blue Dahlia (1946), screenwriter Raymond Chandler referred to her as "Moronica Lake".

Hairstyle change

During World War II, Lake changed her trademark peek-a-boo hairstyle at the urging of the government to encourage women working in war industry factories to adopt more practical, safer hairstyles. Although the change helped to decrease accidents involving women getting their hair caught in machinery, doing so may have damaged Lake's career. She also became a popular pin-up girl for soldiers during World War II and traveled throughout the United States to raise money for war bonds.

Decline as star

Lake's career faltered with her unsympathetic role as Nazi spy Dora Bruckman in The Hour Before the Dawn (1944), shot in mid 1943. Scathing reviews of The Hour Before the Dawn included criticism of her rather unconvincing German accent. She had begun drinking more heavily during this period, and a growing number of people refused to work with her. Lake had a number of months off work, during which time she lost a child and was divorced.

In early 1944 she was brought back in Bring On the Girls (1945), Lake's first proper musical, although she had sung in This Gun for Hire and Star Spangled Rhythm. She was teamed with Eddie Bracken and Sonny Tufts. The movie was not a financial success.

In June 1944, Lake appeared at a war bond drive in Boston, where her services as a dishwasher were auctioned off. She also performed in a revue, with papers saying her "talk was on the grim side". Hedda Hopper later claimed this appearance was responsible for Paramount giving her the third lead in Out of This World (1945), supporting Diana Lynn and Bracken, saying "Lake clipped her own wings in her Boston bond appearance ... It's lucky for Lake, after Boston, that she isn't out of pictures".

Lake had a relatively minor role in a film produced by John Houseman, Miss Susie Slagle's (also 1945), co starring Sonny Tufts; Lake was top billed but her part was smaller than Joan Caulfield's. In November 1944 she made a third film with Bracken, Hold That Blonde (1945). She liked this part saying "it's a comedy, rather like what Carole Lombard used to do ... It represents a real change of pace".

Lake and Alan Ladd in trailer for The Blue Dahlia (1946)

Lake then made a second film produced by John Houseman, The Blue Dahlia (1946), which reunited her with Ladd. While waiting for the films to be released in 1945, she took stock of her career, claiming, "I had to learn about acting. I've played all sorts of parts, taken just what came along regardless of high merit. In fact, I've been a sort of general utility person. I haven't liked all the roles. One or two were pretty bad".

Lake expressed interest in renegotiating her deal with Paramount:

The studio feels that way about it too. They have indicated they are going to fuss more about the pictures in which I appear. I think I'll enjoy being fussed about ... I want this to be the turning point and I think that it will. I am free and clear of unpleasant characters, unless they are strongly justified. I've had a varied experience playing them and also appearing as heroines. The roles themselves haven't been noteworthy and sometimes not even especially spotlighted, but I think they've all been beneficial in one way or another. From here on there should be a certain pattern of development, and that is what I am going to fight for if necessary, though I don't believe it will be because they are so understanding here at Paramount.

Since So Proudly We Hail only The Blue Dahlia had been a hit. She made her first film outside Paramount since she became a star, a Western, Ramrod (1947), directed by her then-husband Andre DeToth, which reunited her with Joel McCrea, despite his earlier reservation. It was successful.

Final years at Paramount

Back at her home studio she had a cameo in Variety Girl (1947) then was united with Ladd for the last time in Saigon (1948), in which she returned to her former peek-a-boo hairstyle; the movie was not particularly well received. Neither was a romantic drama, Isn't It Romantic (also 1948) or a comedy The Sainted Sisters (1948). In 1948 Paramount decided not to renew Lake's contract.

Leaving Paramount

Lake moved to 20th Century Fox to make Slattery's Hurricane (1949), directed by DeToth. It was only a support role and there were not many other offers.

In 1950 it was announced she and DeToth would make Before I Wake (from a suspense novel by Mel Devrett) and Flanagan Boy. Neither was made.

She appeared in Stronghold (1951), which she later described as "a dog", an independent production from Lippert Pictures shot in Mexico. She later sued for unpaid wages on the film. Lake and DeToth filed for bankruptcy that same year.

The IRS later seized their home for unpaid taxes. On the verge of a nervous breakdown and bankrupt, Lake ran away, left DeToth, and flew alone to New York.

New York

Publicity photo c. 1950s

"They said, 'She'll be back in a couple of months,'" recalled Lake. "Well I never returned. Enough was enough already. Did I want to be one of the walking dead or a real person?"

She performed in summer stock theatre and in stage roles in England. In October 1955, she collapsed in Detroit, where she had been appearing on stage in The Little Hut.

Later years

After her third divorce, Lake drifted between cheap hotels in New York City, and was arrested several times for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. In 1962, a New York Post reporter found her living at the all-women's Martha Washington Hotel in Manhattan, working as a waitress downstairs in the cocktail lounge. She was working under the name "Connie de Toth". Lake said she took the job in part because "I like people. I like to talk to them".

The reporter's widely distributed story led to speculation that Lake was destitute. After the story ran, fans of Lake sent her money which she returned as "a matter of pride". Lake vehemently denied that she was destitute and stated, "It's as though people were making me out to be down-and-out. I wasn't. I was paying $190 a month rent then, and that's a long way from being broke". The story did revive some interest in Lake and led to some television and stage appearances, most notably in the 1963 off-Broadway revival of the musical Best Foot Forward.

In 1966, she had a brief stint as a television hostess in Baltimore, Maryland, along with a largely ignored film role in Footsteps in the Snow. She also continued appearing in stage roles. She went to Freeport in the Bahamas to visit a friend and ended up living there for a few years.

Lake's memoirs, Veronica: The Autobiography of Veronica Lake, which she dictated to the writer Donald Bain, were published in the United Kingdom in 1969, and in the United States the following year. In the book, Lake discusses her career, her failed marriages, her romances with Howard Hughes, Tommy Manville and Aristotle Onassis, her alcoholism, and her guilt over not spending enough time with her children. In the book, Lake stated to Bain that her mother pushed her into a career as an actress. Bain quoted Lake, looking back at her career, as saying, "I never did cheesecake like Ann Sheridan or Betty Grable. I just used my hair". She also laughed off the term "sex symbol" and instead referred to herself as a "sex zombie".

Lake in trailer for her final film Flesh Feast (1970)

When she went to the UK to promote her book in 1969 she received an offer to appear on stage in Madam Chairman. Also in 1969, Lake essayed the role of Blanche DuBois in a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire on the English stage; her performance won rave reviews. With the proceeds from her autobiography, after she had divided them with Bain, she co-produced and starred in her final film, Flesh Feast (1970), a low-budget horror movie with a Nazi-myth storyline.

Personal life

Lake's first marriage was to art director John S. Detlie, in 1940. They had a daughter, Elaine (born in 1941), and a son, Anthony (born July 8, 1943). According to news from the time, Lake's son was born prematurely after she tripped on a lighting cable while filming a movie. Anthony died on July 15, 1943. Lake and Detlie separated in August 1943 and divorced in December 1943.

In 1944, Lake married film director Andre DeToth with whom she had a son, Andre Anthony Michael III (known as Michael DeToth), and a daughter, Diana (born October 1948). Days before Diana's birth, Lake's mother sued her for support payments. After purchasing an airplane for de Toth, Lake earned her pilot's license in 1946. She later flew solo between Los Angeles and New York when leaving him. Lake and DeToth divorced in 1952.

In September 1955, she married songwriter Joseph Allan McCarthy. They were divorced in 1959. In 1969, she revealed that she rarely saw her children.


In June 1973, Lake returned from her autobiography promotion and summer stock tour in England to the United States and while traveling in Vermont, visited a local doctor, complaining of stomach pains. She was discovered to have cirrhosis of the liver as a result of her years of drinking, and on June 26, she checked into the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.

She died there on July 7, 1973, of acute hepatitis and acute kidney injury. Her son Michael claimed her body. Lake's memorial service was held at the Universal Chapel in New York City on July 11.

She was cremated and, according to her wishes, her ashes were scattered off the coast of the Virgin Islands. In 2004, some of Lake's ashes were reportedly found in a New York antique store.


For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Lake has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6918 Hollywood Boulevard.


Year Title Role Notes
1939 Sorority House Coed Uncredited, alternative title: That Girl from College
1939 The Wrong Room The Attorney's New Bride Credited as Connie Keane
1939 Dancing Co-Ed One of Couple on Motorcycle Uncredited
Alternative title: Every Other Inch a Lady
1939 All Women Have Secrets Jane Credited as Constance Keane
1940 Young as You Feel Bit part Credited as Constance Keane
1940 Forty Little Mothers Granville girl Uncredited
1941 I Wanted Wings Sally Vaughn First featured role
1941 Hold Back the Dawn Movie Actress Uncredited
1941 Sullivan's Travels The Girl Directed by Preston Sturges
1942 This Gun for Hire Ellen Graham First film with Alan Ladd
1942 The Glass Key Janet Henry With Alan Ladd
1942 I Married a Witch Jennifer Directed by René Clair
1942 Star Spangled Rhythm Herself One of a number of Paramount stars making cameos
1943 So Proudly We Hail! Lt. Olivia D'Arcy
1944 The Hour Before the Dawn Dora Bruckmann
1945 Bring On the Girls Teddy Collins
1945 Out of This World Dorothy Dodge
1945 Duffy's Tavern Herself One of a number of Paramount stars making cameos
1945 Hold That Blonde Sally Martin
1946 Miss Susie Slagle's Nan Rogers
1946 The Blue Dahlia Joyce Harwood With Alan Ladd
1947 Ramrod Connie Dickason Directed by her then-husband Andre DeToth; first film made outside Paramount since becoming a star
1947 Variety Girl Herself One of a number of Paramount stars making cameos
1948 Saigon Susan Cleaver Last film with Alan Ladd
1948 The Sainted Sisters Letty Stanton
1948 Isn't It Romantic? Candy Cameron
1949 Slattery's Hurricane Dolores Greaves Directed by André de Toth
1951 Stronghold Mary Stevens
1966 Footsteps in the Snow Therese
1970 Flesh Feast Dr. Elaine Frederick Alternative title: Time Is Terror
Year Title Role Notes
1950 Your Show of Shows Herself – Guest Performer Episode #2.11
1950 Lights Out Mercy Device Episode: "Beware This Woman"
1950–1953 Lux Video Theatre Various 3 episodes
1951 Somerset Maugham TV Theatre Valerie Episode: "The Facts of Life"
1952 Celanese Theatre Abby Fane Episode: "Brief Moment"
1952 Tales of Tomorrow Paula Episode: "Flight Overdue"
1952 Goodyear Television Playhouse Judy "Leni" Howard Episode: "Better Than Walking"
1953 Danger Episode: "Inside Straight"
1954 Broadway Television Theatre Nancy Willard Episode: "The Gramercy Ghost"

Selected stage credits

Play Venue Her run
Thought for Food Bliss Hayden Theatre, Beverly Hills 1939: January–February
She Made Her Bed Bliss Hayden Theatre, Beverly Hills 1939: July–August
Private Confusion Bliss Hayden Theatre, Beverly Hills 1940: October
Direct Hit 1944: June
The Voice of the Turtle Atlanta 1951: February
The Curtain Rises Olney Theatre 1951
Peter Pan Road tour 1951
Brief Moment 1952
Gramercy Hill 1952
Masquerade Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia 1953
The Little Hut Road tour, including:
Erlanger Theatre, Buffalo
Murat Theatre, Indianapolis
Shubert Theatre, Detroit
Shubert Theatre, Cincinnati
Bell Book and Candle 1956
Fair Game Road tour, including:
Arena Playhouse, Atlanta
Hinsdale Strawhatter, Chicago
1959: July
Best Foot Forward Stage 73 (Off-Broadway), Manhattan 1963
Madam Chairman Tour of English provinces 1969
A Streetcar Named Desire New Theatre, Bromley 1969

In popular culture

Clips from her role in The Glass Key (1942) were integrated into the film Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) as character Monica Stillpond.

Lake was one of the models for the animated character Jessica Rabbit in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), especially for her hairstyle.

In the 1997 film L.A. Confidential, Kim Basinger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a prostitute who is a Veronica Lake look-alike.

A geographical feature called "Lake Veronica" was a recurring joke in the Rocky and Bullwinkle series and film.

In Moose: Chapters from My Life (the 2013, posthumously released autobiography by Robert B. Sherman) writes about his teenage friendship with Lake.

Veronica Lake's image was used as a sight gag in the movie The Major and the Minor (1942) with Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland.

Radio appearances

Date Program Episode/source
March 30, 1943 Lux Radio Theater I Wanted Wings
February 9, 1943 Bob Hope Guest star Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake
February 16, 1943 Burns and Allen Guest star Veronica Lake
November 1, 1943 Lux Radio Theater So Proudly We Hail!
January 8, 1944 Command Performance Guest star Veronica Lake
February 18, 1945 Charlie McCarthy Guest stars Ginny Simms and Veronica Lake
April 2, 1945 The Screen Guild Theater This Gun for Hire
November 18, 1946 Lux Radio Theatre O.S.S.
April 20, 1947 Exploring the Unknown The Dark Curtain
April 21, 1949 The Screen Guild Theater The Blue Dahlia
March 6, 1950 Lux Radio Theatre Slattery's Hurricane
December 15, 1950 Duffy's Tavern "Archie Wants Veronica Lake to Help Promote a New Latin Singer"
December 12, 1954 The Jack Benny Program "A Trip to Palm Springs"
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 24 Nov 2021. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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