Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beauty Icon: Veronica Lake

(November 14, 1922[1] – July 7, 1973) was an American film actress and pin-up model.[2] She received both popular and critical acclaim, most notably for her role in Sullivan's Travels and for her femme fatale roles in film noir with Alan Ladd during the 1940s including This Gun for Hire. She was well known for her peek-a-boo hairstyle. Lake had a string of broken marriages and, after her career declined, long struggles with mental illness and alcoholism.
Early life and career
Lake was born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Harry E. Ockelman, of Danish-Irishdescent,  worked for an oil company aboard a ship. Her father died in an industrial explosion in Philadelphia in 1932 when she was ten. Her mother, née Constance Charlotta Trimble (1902–1992; of Irish descent), married family friend Anthony Keane, a newspaper staff artist, a year later, and Lake began using his last name. Lake was sent to Villa Maria, an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Montreal, Canada, from which she was expelled. The Keane family later moved to Miami, Florida. Lake attended Miami Senior High School in Miami, where she was known for her beauty. She had a troubled childhood and was diagnosed as schizophrenic, according to her mother.
1940's ICON

In 1938 Lake moved with her mother and stepfather to Beverly Hills, where her mother enrolled her in the Bliss-Hayden School of Acting. Her first appearance on screen was for RKO, playing a small role among several coeds in the 1939 film, Sorority House. Similar roles followed, including All Women Have Secrets and Dancing Co-Ed. During the making of Sorority House director John Farrow first noticed how her hair always covered her right eye, creating an air of mystery about her and enhancing her natural beauty. She was then introduced, while still a teenager, to the Paramount producer Arthur Hornblow, Jr. He changed her name to Veronica Lake because the surname suited her blue eyes.
RKO subsequently dropped her contract. She married art director John S. Detlie, 14 years her senior, in 1940. A small role in the comedy, Forty Little Mothers, brought unexpected attention. In 1941 she was signed to a long-term contract with Paramount Pictures. On August 21, 1941, she gave birth to her first child, Elaine Detlie.For a short time during the early 1940s Lake was considered one of the most reliable box office draws in Hollywood. She became known for onscreen pairings with actor Alan Ladd. At first, the couple was teamed together merely out of physical necessity: Ladd was just 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall and the only actress then on the Paramount lot short enough to pair with him was Lake, who stood just 4 feet 1112 inches (1.511 m). They made four films together.

Her breakthrough film was I Wanted Wings in 1941, a major hit in which Lake played the second female lead and was said to have stolen scene after scene from the rest of the cast. This success was followed by Hold Back the Dawn later that year. She had starring roles in more popular movies, including Sullivan's TravelsThis Gun for HireI Married a WitchThe Glass Key, and So Proudly We Hail!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."
A stray lock of her shoulder-length, blonde hair during a publicity photo shoot led to her iconic "peekaboo" hairstyle, which was widely imitated. During World War II, Lake changed her trademark image to encourage women working in war industry factories to adopt more practical, safer hairstyles, although doing so may have damaged her career.

Although popular with the public, Lake had a complex personality and acquired a reputation for being difficult to work with. Eddie Bracken, her co-star in Star Spangled Rhythm, was quoted as saying, "She was known as 'The Bitch' and she deserved the title." In that movie, Lake took part in a song lampooning her hair style, "A Sweater, A Sarong and a Peekaboo Bang", performed with Paulette Goddard and Dorothy LamourJoel McCrea, her co-star in Sullivan's Travels, reputedly turned down the co-starring role in I Married a Witch, saying, "Life's too short for two films with Veronica Lake." 

Lake's career stumbled with her unsympathetic role as Nazi spy Dora Bruckman in 1944's The Hour Before the Dawn. During filming, she tripped on a lighting cable while pregnant and began hemorrhaging. She recovered, but her second child, William, was born prematurely on July 8, 1943, dying a week later from uremic poisoning. By the end of 1943 her first marriage ended in divorce. Meanwhile, scathing reviews of The Hour Before Dawn included criticism of her unconvincing German accent.
Nonetheless, Lake was earning $4,500 per week under her contract with Paramount. She had begun drinking more heavily during this period and people began refusing to work with her. Paramount cast Lake in a string of mostly forgotten films. A notable exception was The Blue Dahlia (1946), in which she again co-starred with Ladd. During filming, screenplay writer Raymond Chandler referred to her as "Moronica Lake". Paramount decided not to renew her contract in 1948. 

Looking back at her career years later, Lake remarked, "I never did cheesecake; I just used my hair." 

She married film director Andre De TothToth, known as Michael De Toth (October 25, 1945 – February 24, 1991), and a daughter, Diana De Toth (born October 16, 1948). Lake was sued by her mother for support payments in 1948.
Later years
Lake earned her pilot's license in 1946 and was able to fly solo between Los Angeles and New York.
After a single film for 20th Century FoxSlattery's Hurricane (1949), her career collapsed. By the end of 1951 she had appeared in one last film (Stronghold, which she later described as "a dog"), filed for bankruptcy, and divorced de Toth. The IRS seized the remainder of her assets for unpaid taxes. Lake turned to television and stage work and in 1955 married songwriter Joseph A. McCarthy.
After breaking her ankle in 1959, Lake was unable to continue working as an actress. She and McCarthy divorced, after which she drifted between cheap hotels in Brooklyn and New York City and was arrested several times for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. A New York Post reporter found her working as a barmaid at the all-women's Martha Washington Hotel in Manhattan.  At first, Veronica claimed that she was a guest at the hotel and covering for a friend. Soon afterward, she admitted that she was employed at the bar. The reporter's widely distributed story led to some television and stage appearances, most notably in the off-Broadway revival of the musical Best Foot Forward. (Her contract overlapped with the departing Liza Minnelli and the two briefly co-starred together.) In 1966, she had a brief stint as a TV hostess in Baltimore, Maryland, along with a largely ignored film role in Footsteps in the Snow.
Her physical and mental health declined steadily. By the late 1960s Lake was in Hollywood, Florida, apparently immobilized by paranoia (which included claims she was being stalked by the FBI). She spent a brief period in England, where she appeared in the plays Madame Chairman and A Streetcar Named Desire.

When Veronica: The Autobiography of Veronica Lake (Bantam, 1972) was published, she promoted the book with a memorable interview on The Dick Cavett Show, as well as an episode of To Tell the Truth, on which the panel had to guess which of three disguised women was the "real" Veronica Lake. Two of the panelists, Bill Cullen and Peggy Cass, quickly disqualified themselves because they knew her. With the proceeds, she co-produced and starred in her last film, Flesh Feast (1970), a very low budget horror movie with a Nazi-myth storyline. She then moved to the UK, where she had a short-lived marriage with an "English sea captain", Robert Carleton-Munro, before returning to the U.S. in 1973, having filed for divorce.
Lake was immediately hospitalized. Although she had made a cheerful and positive impression on the nurses who cared for her, she apparently was estranged from her three surviving children, particularly her daughters. Elaine Detlie became known as Ani Sangge Lhamo after becoming a member of the Subud faith in New Zealand. Diana became a secretary for the U.S. Embassy in Rome in the 1970s. Michael De Toth stayed with his mother on and off through the 1960s and 1970s. He married Edwina Mae Niecke. When Lake died, he claimed her body.
Lake died on July 7, 1973, of hepatitis and acute renal failure (complications of her alcoholism) in Burlington, Vermont, where her death was certified by Dr. Wareen Beeken at theFletcher Allen Hospital, and where she was seen by many staff members during her nearly two-week stay.[19] A rumor persists that she died in Montreal and was smuggled across the border to Vermont. Vermont state death records, however, confirm that she died in Burlington, Vermont.
As she requested, her ashes were scattered off the coast of the Virgin Islands. A memorial service was held in Manhattan, but only her son and a handful of strangers attended. In 2004 some of Lake's ashes were reportedly found in a New York antique store. Her son, Michael, died on February 24, 1991, at age 45 in Olympia, Washington.
Lake has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6918 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to the motion picture industry. She remains a legendary star today and her autographs and other memorabilia continue to draw high prices on eBay and other popular outlets.
Polular Culture
Lake was one of the models for the animated character of Jessica Rabbit in the 1988 film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", especially for her hairstyle. In the 1997 film L.A. Confidential (based on James Ellroy's 1990 novel), Kim Basinger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a prostitute who is a Veronica Lake look-alike, and who, in one of the book's and film's signature lines, is complimented by a police officer who tells her, "You look better than Veronica Lake
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".
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.
.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.
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.

Personal Quotes
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 (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.

Here is my selected films that I love of Veronica's. If you can find them, download or rent them please do
she's one of the lost greats!

1941~ I Wanted Wings
1941- Sullivan's Travels
1942- This Gun For Hire
1942~The Glass Key
1942~ I Married A Witch
1946~ The Blue Dalhia



  1. Terrific post. Of all her movies, I Married a Witch is my favorite.

    1. i'm pleased you enjoyed it, it's nice to find that someone reads them LOL! yes, I think that is my favorite film of hers as well. she was funny in it...

  2. Very well done. I highly enjoyed this - thank you!


    December 7, 2015

    To whomever this may concern including but not limited to Myke Spezzano:

    Mr. Spezzano,
    This is a CEASE and Desist letter. I Stewart Lake, legal husband of CONSTANCE FRANCES MARIE LAKE. Do hereby demand that you CEASE and DESIST The false and misleading information about my deceased wife. As well as the use of her Name, Image, and Voice without my consent. And I DO NOT grant you my consent to use her Name, Image, and Voice in any manner or form.
    My wife's mother Constance Frances Charlotta Trimble Ockleman Keane stole my wife's Identity and used it on May 29, 1972. To marry one, Robert Carleton-Munro in Miami, Broward County, Florida. If my wife had married one, Robert Carleton-Munro as you and numerous other persons claim. After she married me on December 22, 1971. She would have been arrested and jailed for bigamy. Is that not correct Mr. Spezzano?
    My wife was neither Alcoholic or Schizophrenic. As you and a host of others claim. I have already been to a Probate Court Of Law. And proven our marriage beyond a reasonable doubt. And furthermore my wife divorced Joseph Macarthey, Jr. on September 12, 1955. At which time we began to live together for the next 18 years and 2 days.
    I demand that you CEASE and Desist the use of my wife's Name, Image, and Voice immediately. As well as Cease and Desist the false tales and rumors of her death and remains. If not my attornies will begin legal action.
    My attornies have advised me that a CEASE and Desist letter by electronic means. Is as adequate as a letter from their offices. If the information above concerning my wife Constance Frances Marie Lake is not remove by 12:00 P.M. December 8, 2015. I will instruct my attornies to begin legal action.

    Good day,

    Stewart Lake


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