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Veronica Lake


Veronica Lake (November 14, 1922- July 7, 1973) was an American film actress and pin-up model who enjoyed both popular and critical acclaim, most notably for her femme fatale roles in film noir with Alan Ladd during the 1940s, as well as her peek-a-boo hairstyle.

Early life and career

Veronica Lake was born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Harry E. Ockelman, of Danish-Irish descent, worked for an oil company onboard a ship. When she was about one year old, the family moved to Florida but returned to Brooklyn before she was five. Her father died in an industrial explosion in Philadelphia in 1932 when she was 9. Her mother, née Constance Charlotta Trimble (1902-1992), (listed as "Veronica F." on the 1920 census), married family friend Anthony Keane, a newspaper staff artist, a year later, and Ockelman began using his last name.

Connie was sent to Villa Maria, an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Montreal, Canada, which she hated and from which she was expelled. The Keane family later moved to Miami, Florida. Constance Keane attended high school in Miami, where she was known for her beauty. She had a troubled childhood and was, according to her mother, diagnosed as schizophrenic.

In 1938, Keane moved with her mother and stepfather to Beverly Hills, California, where her mother enrolled Keane in the celebrated Bliss-Hayden School of Acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. 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 to the Paramount producer Arthur Hornblow, Jr. He changed her name to Veronica Lake because, "[w]hen I think about Veronica, I think about classic, and ... [her] beauty is a classical beauty", and the surname suited her blue eyes.

Her contract was subsequently dropped by RKO. She married art director John S. Detlie in 1940. Another 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, she gave birth to a daughter, Elaine Detlie.

1940s icon

Her breakthrough film was I Wanted Wings in 1941, a major hit in which she 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 was soon regarded as a witty, intelligent and trend-setting actress and had starring roles in more popular movies, including Sullivan's Travels, This Gun for Hire, I Married a Witch, The Glass Key, and So Proudly We Hail!. Looking back at her career years later, Lake remarked, "I never did cheesecake; I just used my hair."

For a short time during the early 1940s, Lake was considered one of the most reliable box office draws in Hollywood and was also known for her 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 11½ inches (1.51 m). They made four films together.

A stray lock of her shoulder-length blonde hair during a publicity photo shoot led to her iconic 'peekaboo' hairstyle, which hid one eye, and was widely imitated. During World War II, she changed her trademark image to encourage women working in war industry factories to adopt more practical, safer hairstyles.

Although widely 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 "he 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 Dorothy Lamour and Paulette Goddard.

Lake's career stumbled with her unsympathetic role as Nazi sympathizer 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, which was said to have interfered disastrously with her acting.

Nevertheless, Lake was making $4,500 per week (equaling over $2.7 million per year in 2007, after allowing for inflation) under her contract with Paramount. Lake is said to have 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 Alan Ladd (who reportedly was also less than fond of her). During filming, author Raymond Chandler referred to her as "Moronica Lake." Paramount decided not to renew her contract in 1948.

She married film director Andre De Toth in 1944, with whom she had a son, Andre Anthony Michael De Toth, born October 25, 1945, in Los Angeles, California and a daughter, Diana De Toth, born October 16, 1948. Lake was also sued by her mother for support payments that year.

Later years

After a single film for 20th Century Fox, her career collapsed. By the end of 1952, 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, and she drifted between cheap hotels in Brooklyn and New York City and was arrested several times for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

A 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. 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 and by the late 1960s Lake was in Hollywood, Florida, apparently immobilized by paranoia (which included claims she was being stalked by the FBI).

She published her autobiography Veronica, amid much publicity and positive reviews. With the proceeds, Lake 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 "English sea captain" Robert Carleton-Munro before returning to the U.S. in 1973, having filed for divorce. Lake was immediately hospitalized and although she is said to have made a cheerful and positive impression on the nurses who cared for her, she was apparently estranged from her three surviving children. Elaine became Ani Sangge Lhamo after becoming a member of the Subud faith. She had 3 children and lives in New Zealand. Diana became a secretary for the American Embassy and lived in Rome in the 1970s. Michael stayed with Lake on and off through the 1960s and 1970s. He married Edwina Mae Niecke and died in 1991. When Lake died he claimed her body.

Towards the end of her life Lake had no visitors and was destitute again.


Lake died of hepatitis and acute renal failure (complications of her alcoholism) in Montreal. Her corpse was moved by her last lover, Nat Perlow, to Vermont, who told border agents that she was just sleeping. This had been Lake's wish, as she did not want the public to know that she had died in Montreal, the "Sin City of the North". Her ashes were scattered off the Virgin Islands. In 2004, some of Lake's ashes were reportedly found in a New York antique store. Her son, Michael De Toth, died on October 25, 1991 in Olympia, Washington at the age of 45.

Lake has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6918 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to the motion picture industry.


Height: 1,51 m


Robert Carleton-Munro (29.5.72 - 7.7.1972(hear death))

Joseph A. McCarthy (28.4.55-59(divorced))

André de Toth (13.12.44-2.6.52(divorced)(2 children))

John S. Detlie (25.9.40-2.12.43(divorced)(2 children))

Trade Mark

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

Lake's parents: Harry Ockelman, seaman, died in ship explosion, February 1932; Constance Charlotta Trimble. Lake's paternal grandparents were Danish and Irish; Lake's maternal grandparents were the children of 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".

Measurements: 33C-21 1/2-33 1/2 (her own words), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)

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.

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.



  1. Flesh Feast (1970) .... Dr. Elaine Frederick
    ... aka Time Is Terror
  2. Footsteps in the Snow (1966)
    ... aka Des pas sur la neige (Canada: French title)
  3. "Broadway Television Theatre" (1 episode, 1954)
    - The Gramercy Ghost (1954) TV episode
  4. "Danger" (1 episode, 1953)
    - Inside Straight (1953) TV episode
  5. "Lux Video Theatre" .... Beverly / ... (3 episodes, 1950-1953)
    ... aka "Summer Video Theatre" (USA: summer title)
    - Thanks for a Lovely Evening (1953) TV episode .... Beverly
    - The Blues Street (1951) TV episode
    - Shadow on the Heart (1950) TV episode .... Stormy Denton
  6. "Goodyear Television Playhouse" .... Judy 'Leni' Howard (1 episode, 1952)
    ... aka "Goodyear Playhouse" (USA: new title)
    - Better Than Walking (1952) TV episode .... Judy 'Leni' Howard
  7. "Tales of Tomorrow" .... Paula (1 episode, 1952)
    - Flight Overdue (1952) TV episode .... Paula
  8. "Celanese Theatre" (1 episode, 1952)
    - Brief Moment (1952) TV episode
  9. Stronghold (1951) .... Mary Stevens
  10. "Somerset Maugham TV Theatre" .... Valerie (1 episode, 1951)
    ... aka "Teller of Tales" (original title (first three episodes title))
    - The Facts of Life (1951) TV episode .... Valerie
  11. "Lights Out" (1 episode, 1950)
    - Beware This Woman (1950) TV episode
  12. "Your Show of Shows" (1 episode, 1950)
    ... aka "Sid Caesar's Show of Shows" (UK: rerun title)
    - Episode dated 18 November 1950 (1950) TV episode
  13. Slattery's Hurricane (1949) .... Dolores Grieves
  14. Isn't It Romantic? (1948) .... Candy Cameron
  15. The Sainted Sisters (1948) .... Letty Stanton
  16. Saigon (1948) .... Susan Cleaver
  17. Ramrod (1947) .... Connie Dickason
  18. The Blue Dahlia (1946) .... Joyce Harwood
  19. Miss Susie Slagle's (1946) .... Nan Rogers
  20. Hold That Blonde (1945) .... Sally Martin
  21. Out of This World (1945) .... Dorothy Dodge
  22. Bring on the Girls (1945) .... Teddy Collins
  23. The Hour Before the Dawn (1944) .... Dora Bruckmann
  24. So Proudly We Hail! (1943) .... Lt. Olivia D'Arcy
  25. I Married a Witch (1942) .... Jennifer
  26. The Glass Key (1942) .... Janet Henry
  27. This Gun for Hire (1942) .... Ellen Graham
  28. Sullivan's Travels (1941) .... The Girl
  29. Hold Back the Dawn (1941) (uncredited) .... Movie Actress
  30. I Wanted Wings (1941) .... Sally Vaughn
  31. 40 Little Mothers (1940) (uncredited) .... Granville girl
  32. Young as You Feel (1940) (as Constance Keane) .... Bit part
  33. All Women Have Secrets (1939) (as Constance Keane) .... Jane
  34. Dancing Co-Ed (1939) (uncredited) .... One of Couple on Motorcycle
    ... aka Every Other Inch a Lady (UK)
  35. The Wrong Room (1939) (as Connie Keane) .... The Attorney's New Bride
  36. Sorority House (1939) (uncredited) .... Coed
    ... aka That Girl from College (UK)


  1. Isn't It Romantic? (1948) (performer: "Indiana Dinner", "At the Nickolodeon")
  2. Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) (performer: "A Sweater, a Sarong and a Peek-a-Boo Bang")
  3. This Gun for Hire (1942) (performer: "I've Got You" (uncredited), "Now You See It, Now You Don't" (uncredited))
  4. I Wanted Wings (1941) (performer: "BORN TO LOVE")


Flesh Feast (1970) (executive producer)

... aka Time Is Terror




























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From the movie "The glass key"

source: dr. macro


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From the movie "I married a witch"

source: dr. macro



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From the movie "I wanted wings"

source: dr. macro



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From the movie "So proudly we hail"

source: dr. macro





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From the movie "Star spangled rhythm"

source: dr. macro


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From the movie "Sullivan's Travels"

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LOL another great thread you created Carmelita, we have the same taste in beauty it seems! Her hair is my favorite part, I adore this hair style

Video of Veronica singing I got you right where I want you

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Love her voice - thanks for the vid (so funny!)!

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From "I married a witch"

source: dr. macro

Bigger size at source.


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