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Veronica Lake Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (22) | Personal Quotes (13) | Salary (8)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 14 November 1922Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 7 July 1973Burlington, Vermont, USA  (hepatitis)
Birth NameConstance Frances Marie Ockelman
Nickname The Peek-a-boo Girl
Height 4' 11½" (1.51 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Veronica Lake was born as Constance Frances Marie Ockleman on November 14, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the daughter of Constance Charlotta (Trimble) and Harry Eugene Ockelman, who worked for an oil company as a ship employee. Her father was of half German and half Irish descent, and her mother was of Irish ancestry. While still a child, Veronica's parents moved to Florida when she was not quite a year old. By the time she was five, the family had returned to Brooklyn. When Connie was only twelve, tragedy struck when her father died in an explosion on an oil ship. One year later her mother married Anthony Keane and Connie took his last name as her own. In 1934, when her stepfather was diagnosed with tuberculosis, the family moved to Saranac Lake, where Connie Keane enjoyed the outdoor life and flourished in the activities of boating on the lakes, skating, skiing, swimming, biking around Moody Pond and hiking up Mt Baker. The family made their home in 1935 at 1 Watson Place, (now 27 Seneca Street) then they moved to 1 Riverside Drive,(now Lake Kiwassa Road). Both Connie and Anthony benefited from the Adirondack experience and in 1936 the family left the Adirondacks and moved to Miami, FL., however, the memories of those carefree Saranac Lake days would always remain deeply rooted in her mind.

Two years later, Connie graduated from high school in Miami. Her natural beauty and charm and a definite talent for acting prompted her mother and step-father to move to Beverly Hills, California, where they enrolled her in the well known Bliss Hayden School of Acting in Hollywood. Connie had previously been diagnosed as a classic schizophrenic and her parents saw acting as a form of treatment for her condition. She showed remarkable abilities and did not have to wait long for a part to come her way.

Her first movie was as one of the many coeds in the RKO film, Sorority House (1939) in 1939. It was a minor part, to be sure, but it was a start. Veronica quickly followed up that project with two other films. All Women Have Secrets (1939) and Dancing Co-Ed (1939), both in 1939, were again bit roles for the pretty young woman from the East Coast, but she did not complain. After all, other would-be starlets took a while before they ever received a bit part. Veronica continued her schooling, in 1940, while taking a bit roles in two more films, Young as You Feel (1940) and Forty Little Mothers (1940). Prior to this time, she was still under her natural name of Constance Keane. Now, with a better role in 1941's I Wanted Wings (1941), she was asked to change her name and Veronica Lake was born. Now, instead of playing coeds, she had a decent, speaking part. Veronica felt like an actress. The film was a success and the public loved this bright newcomer.

Paramount, the studio she was under contract with, then assigned her to two more films that year, Hold Back the Dawn (1941) and Sullivan's Travels (1941). The latter received good reviews from the always tough film critics. As Ellen Graham, in This Gun for Hire (1942) the following year, Veronica now had top billing. She had paid her dues and was on a roll. The public was enamored with her. In 1943, Veronica starred in only one film. She portrayed Lieutenant Olivia D'Arcy in So Proudly We Hail! (1943) with Claudette Colbert. The film was a box-office smash. It seemed that any film Veronica starred in would be an unquestionable hit. However, her only outing for 1944, The Hour Before the Dawn (1944) would not be well-received by either the public or the critics. As Nazi sympathizer Dora Bruckmann, Veronica's role was dismal at best. Critics disliked her accent immensely because it wasn't true to life. Her acting itself suffered because of the accent. Mediocre films trailed her for all of 1945. It seemed that Veronica was dumped in just about any film to see if it could be salvaged. Hold That Blonde! (1945), Out of This World (1945), and Miss Susie Slagle's (1946) were just a waste of talent for the beautiful blonde. The latter film was a shade better than the previous two. In 1946, Veronica bounced back in The Blue Dahlia (1946) with Howard Da Silva. The film was a hit, but it was the last decent film for Veronica. Paramount continued to put her in pathetic movies. After 1948, Paramount discharged the once prized star and she was out on her own. In 1949, she starred in the Twentieth Century film Slattery's Hurricane (1949). Unfortunately, another weak film. She was not on the big screen again until 1952 when she appeared in Stronghold (1951). By Veronica's own admission, the film "was a dog." From 1952 to 1966, Veronica made television appearances and even tried her hand on the stage. Not a lot of success for her at all. By now alcohol was the order of the day. She was down on her luck and drank heavily. In 1962, Veronica was found living in an old hotel and working as a bartender. She finally returned to the big screen in 1966 in Footsteps in the Snow (1966). Another drought ensued and she appeared on the silver screen for the last time in 1970's Flesh Feast (1970) - a very low budget film.

On July 7, 1973, Veronica died of hepatitis in Burlington, Vermont. The beautiful actress with the long blonde hair was dead at the age of 50.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson and Leslie Hoffman

Spouse (4)

Robert Carleton-Munro (29 May 1972 - 7 July 1973) (her death)
Joseph Allen McCarthy (28 August 1955 - 1959) (divorced)
André De Toth (13 December 1944 - 2 June 1952) (divorced) (2 children)
John S. Detlie (25 September 1940 - 2 December 1943) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (2)

'Peekaboo' hairstyle, covering right side of forehead and sometimes partly over right eye.
Voluptuous figure

Trivia (22)

Lake's parents were Constance Charlotta (Trimble) and Harry Eugene Ockelman, a seaman who died in a ship explosion in February 1932. Lake's paternal grandfather, Harry Ockelman, was German, and her paternal grandmother, Alice Marie Collins, was Irish. Lake's maternal grandparents, James F. Trimble and Frances Comer, were both born in New York, both of them to Irish immigrants.
Birth year usually given as 1919 but her autobiography and Lenburg's highly negative biography both indicate 1922. The 1920 United States Census shows that her father Harry Ockelman is unmarried and childless, while in 1930 Constance is listed as seven years old.
Her height variously given as "barely five feet" to 5' 2" Photos indicate the shorter height.
Children: Elaine Detlie, b. 21 August 1941; William Detlie, lived 8-15 July 1943; Andre Michael De Toth III, b. 25 October 1945; Diana De Toth, b. 16 October 1948.
An accomplished aviatrix, she took up flying in 1946 and in 1948 flew her small plane from Los Angeles to New York.
A 1943 Paramount newsreel shows her adopting an upswept hairdo at the behest of War Womanpower Commission, to discourage "peekaboo bangs" on Rosie the Riveter.
Got her big break when teamed with the only actor in Hollywood relatively near to her in height, Alan Ladd. Ladd was 5' 6" and she was just 4' 11".
Daughter-in-law of Joseph McCarthy.
During World War Two, the rage for her peek-a-boo bangs became a hazard when women in the defense industry would get their bangs caught in machinery. Lake had to take a publicity picture in which she reacted painfully to her hair getting "caught" in a drill press in order to heighten public awareness about the hazard of her hairstyle.
She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6918 Hollywood Blvd.
Kim Basinger won an Oscar as "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" for portraying a prostitute who is supposed to look like Lake.
She and Alan Ladd made 7 movies together: The Blue Dahlia (1946), Duffy's Tavern (1945), The Glass Key (1942), Saigon (1948), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), This Gun for Hire (1942) and Variety Girl (1947). In Variety Girl (1947), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) and Duffy's Tavern (1945) they appear as themselves.
Cousin of actress Helene Marshall.
Her ashes sat on a funeral home's shelf until 1976 when her cremation was paid for and supposedly spread on the Florida coastline. Some 30 years after her death, her ashes resurfaced in a New York antique store in October 2004.
In Italy, all her films were dubbed by Rosetta Calavetta. She was only dubbed once by another actress: Clelia Bernacchi (in Hold Back the Dawn (1941)).
Her third husband, Joseph Allen McCarthy, wrote lyrics for many Cy Coleman songs, among them "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life" and "Why Try To Change Me Now?" sung by Frank Sinatra. McCarthy's father, Joseph McCarthy, was also a lyricist; his most famous songs are "You Made Me Love You" and "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows.".
Actor Stewart Stafford lived the first three years of his life in her old apartment in New York (her name was still visible inside the mailbox).
When former lover Marlon Brando read in a newspaper that a reporter had found Veronica Lake working as a cocktail waitress in a Manhattan bar, he instructed his accountant to send her a check for a thousand dollars. Out of pride, she never cashed it, but kept it framed in her Miami living room to show her friends.
Along with Rita Hayworth', Lauren Bacall, and Gene Tierney she was one of four inspirations that helped create the character Jessica Rabbit.
In her biography "Peekaboo" Lake's mother claims her daughter was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia, which she alleges was responsible for her alcoholism, numerous infidelities, mood swings, and vindictiveness.
Lake's mother sued her daughter for non-support during the 1940s.
When Lake's former husband, André De Toth, wrote his autobiography "Fragments" in 1964, his comments about his ex-wife were brief and relatively sympathetic. He paints her as a woman destroyed by a sad childhood and overly domineering mother.

Personal Quotes (13)

You could put all the talent I had into your left eye and still not suffer from impaired vision.
I will have one of the cleanest obits of any actress. I never did cheesecake like Ann Sheridan or Betty Grable. I just used my hair.
I wasn't a sex symbol, I was a sex zombie.
[1970, reflecting on her career] I've reached a point in my life where it's the little things that matter. I'm no longer interested in doing what's expected of me. I was always a rebel and probably could have got much farther had I changed my attitude. But when you think about it, I got pretty far without changing attitudes. I'm happier with that.
Hollywood gives a young girl the aura of one giant, self-contained orgy farm, its inhabitants dedicated to crawling into every pair of pants they can find.
[on Alan Ladd] Alan Ladd was a marvelous person in his simplicity. In so many ways we were kindred spirits. We both were professionally conceived through Hollywood's search for box office and the types to insure the box office. And we were both little people. Alan wasn't as short as most people believe. It was true that in certain films Alan would climb a small platform or the girl worked in a slit trench. We had no such problems together.
[on Paulette Goddard] It was her honesty I liked.
[on Marlon Brando] Our romance was short but sweet. He was on the dawn of a brilliant film career, and I was in the twilight of one. Of course, my career could never compare with his.
[on her screen test for I Wanted Wings (1941)] My hair kept falling over one eye and I kept brushing it back. I thought I had ruined my chances for the role. But Hornblow [producer Arthur Hornblow] was jubilant about that eye-hiding trick. An experienced showman, he knew that the hairstyle was something people would talk about. He had a big picture and lots of talk would bring customers to see it.
[on performing with Fredric March in I Married a Witch (1942)] He treated me like dirt under his talented feet. Of all actors to end up under the covers with. That happened in one scene and Mr. March is lucky he didn't get my knee in his groin.
There's no doubt I was a bit of a misfit in the Hollywood of the forties. The race for glamor left me far behind. I didn't really want to keep up. I wanted my stardom without the usual trimmings. Because of this, I was branded a rebel at the very least. But I don't regret that for a minute. My appetite was my own and I simply wouldn't have it any other way.
I think I've developed into an actress because I've worked darn hard at it and I've learned a great deal from a lot of gifted people. And if I have nothing else to show for my life, apart from a scrapbook full of cuttings, I have the knowledge that my early days in Hollywood weren't in vain.
If I had stayed in Hollywood I would have ended up like Alan Ladd and Gail Russell--dead and buried by now. That rat race killed them and I knew it would kill me, so I had to get out. I was never psychologically meant to be a picture star. I never took it seriously. I couldn't "live" being a"'movie star" and I couldn't "camp" it, and I hated being something I wasn't.

Salary (8)

I Wanted Wings (1941) $75 /week
This Gun for Hire (1942) $350 /week
The Glass Key (1942) $350 /week
The Hour Before the Dawn (1944) $4,500 /week
The Hour Before the Dawn (1944) $4,500 /week
Isn't It Romantic? (1948) $4,000 /week
Isn't It Romantic? (1948) $4,000 @week
Footsteps in the Snow (1966) $10,000

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