Born Constance Ockleman (later Keane) in Brooklyn on November 14, 1919 (some sources list 1922 as her date of birth), diminutive actress Veronica Lake relocated to California with her mother and stepfather as a teenager. Pushed by a typical stage mother, Lake was enrolled in acting classes. In 1939, she was signed by RKO Studios, sometimes appearing in small roles before the studio dropped her contract. A few bit parts at MGM and 20th Century-Fox followed, and soon after marrying first husband John Detlie, Lake signed with Paramount. With her cool manner and 'peekaboo' hairstyle she created a sensation, and millions of women copied her peekaboo bang.

Veronica LakeVeronica LakeVeronica LakeVeronica Lake

Beautiful 1940s shots of Veronica Lake, mostly from Paramount

Lake's biggest year in films was 1942, when she starred in a string of hit films for Paramount, including Sullivan's Travels, This Gun for Hire, and I Married a Witch. Pregnancy with her second child sidelined her for much of 1943, but sadly, the child lived just a few days. She and Detlie divorced shortly thereafter, and Lake then married prominent director Andre De Toth in late 1944.

Sterling Hayden and Veronica Lake

With fellow Paramount contract player Sterling Hayden in 1942

Although Lake proved to be a good actress, especially in comedy and film noir, her career began to fade soon after the end of World War II. She gave birth to her son with De Toth late in 1945. Several more films followed, and Lake gave birth to another daughter, born in late 1948. By then, however, Paramount had dropped her contract following the release of the comedy Isn't It Romantic? (1948; with Mona Freeman).

the films of veronica lake

This Gun for Hire (1942)

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake

With frequent co-star Alan Ladd in Paramount's film noir thriller This Gun for Hire

The Glass Key (1942)

Brian Donlevy, Veronica Lake, and Alan Ladd

With Brian Donlevy and Alan Ladd in Paramount's film noir thriller The Glass Key

I Married a Witch (1942)

Fredric March and Veronica Lake

With Fredric March in I Married a Witch

Sullivan's Travels (1942)

Veronica Lake, Joel McCrea, and Franklin PangbornVeronica Lake and Joel McCreaVeronica Lake and Joel McCrea

From Sullivan's Travels. LEFT: With Joel McCrea and Franklin Pangborn. CENTER and RIGHT: With Joel McCrea

So Proudly We Hail! (1943)

Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard, and Claudette Colbert

From So Proudly We Hail! with Paulette Goddard and Claudette Colbert

The Blue Dahlia (1946)

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake

With frequent co-star Alan Ladd in Paramount's film-noir thriller The Blue Dahlia

Ramrod (1947)

Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea

With Joel McCrea in Ramrod, directed by Andre De Toth

Isn't It Romantic? (1948)

Mona Freeman, Mary Hatcher, Billy De Wolfe, and Veronica Lake

From the Paramount comedy Isn't It Romantic? with Mona Freeman, Mary Hatcher, and Billy De Wolfe

Saigon (1948)

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake

From the Paramount drama Saigon, the final film in which Lake costarred with Alan Ladd

The Sainted Sisters (1948)

Veronica Lake, Joan Caulfield, and Barry Fitzgerald

With Joan Caulfield and Barry Fitzgerald in the Paramount comedy The Sainted Sisters

Slattery's Hurricane (1949)

Veronica Lake and Richard Widmark

With Richard Widmark in Slattery's Hurricane, directed by Andre De Toth

Flesh Feast (1970)

Veronica Lake

Lake as the sadistic Dr. Elaine Frederick in the horror flick Flesh Feast, shot in Miami. This was Lake's final film

later years

Following her departure from Paramount, Veronica Lake's film career came to a halt in the late 1940s; she made just three films afterward. Lake divorced De Toth in 1952, and she left California to settle in New York, where she did quite a bit of stage work and made a number of appearances in early television. However, mental illness, her increasing use of alcohol, and a heart attack in 1955 finished off her acting career. Following a third marriage and divorce, by 1962 Lake was working as a bar maid and hostess in a Manhattan cocktail lounge. Never as down and out as the media portrayed, nonetheless the publicity surrounding this discovery helped revive her acting career, and in 1963 she was back onstage in off-Broadway productions. Lake was also offered a job working in Baltimore as a TV host. She made two more films: Footsteps in the Snow (made in Canada and released in 1966) and Flesh Feast (shot in Miami in 1967 but unreleased until 1970), a film which she also produced. Lake wrote a sensational autobiography, which made waves when it was published in 1971. In 1969, she moved to England for a couple of years and acted in the stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire, for which she earned great reviews. Sadly, she passed away at the age of 53 in Burlington, Vermont, on July 7, 1973, from hepatitis. She was survived by her fourth husband (a commercial fisherman whom she married in 1972), two daughters, a son, several grandchildren, and her estranged mother. In 2004, Lake made headlines again when a portion of her ashes was discovered in a New York antiques store.

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Flesh Feast (1970) with Phil Philbin and Yanka Mann
Footsteps in the Snow (1966) with Meredith MacRae
Stronghold (1951) with Zachary Scott
Slattery's Hurricane (1949) with Richard Widmark and Linda Darnell
Isn't It Romantic? (1948) with Mona Freeman, Billy De Wolfe, and Pearl Bailey
The Sainted Sisters (1948) with George Reeves, Joan Caulfield, Barry Fitzgerald, William Demarest, Beulah Bondi, Chill Wills, and Darryl Hickman
Saigon (1948) with Alan Ladd
Variety Girl (1947)
Ramrod (1947) with Joel McCrea and Don DeFore
The Blue Dahlia (1946) with Alan Ladd, William Bendix, and Hugh Beaumont
Miss Susie Slagle's (1946) with Sonny Tufts and Lloyd Bridges
Duffy's Tavern (1945) with Eddie Bracken
Out of This World (1945) with Eddie Bracken
Hold That Blonde (1945) with Eddie Bracken and Albert Dekker
Bring on the Girls (1945) with Sonny Tufts, Eddie Bracken, and Yvonne De Carlo
The Hour Before the Dawn (1944) with Franchot Tone
So Proudly We Hail! (1943) with Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, George Reeves, Barbara Britton, and Sonny Tufts
Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope
I Married a Witch (1942) with Fredric March and Susan Hayward
The Glass Key (1942) with Brian Donlevy, Alan Ladd, Richard Denning, Bonita Granville, William Bendix, and Frances Gifford
This Gun for Hire (1942) with Alan Ladd and Robert Preston
Sullivan's Travels (1942) with Joel McCrea and Franklin Pangborn
I Wanted Wings (1941) with Ray Milland, Brian Donlevy, and William Holden
Young as You Feel (1940) with Spring Byington and Jack Carson
Forty Little Mothers (1940) with Eddie Cantor
All Women Have Secrets (1939) with Virginia Dale, Jeanne Cagney, Peter Lind Hayes, Wanda McKay, Janet Waldo, and Joyce Mathews

To Tell The Truth, episode originally aired 1969 or 1970
Broadway Television Theatre, episode The Gramercy Ghost, originally aired January 4, 1954
Danger, episode Inside Straight, originally aired March 31, 1953
Lux Video Theatre, episode Thanks For a Lovely Evening, originally aired January 12, 1953
The Name's the Same, 1951-1955 ABC game show hosted by Robert Q. Lewis. Lake appeared on a 1953 episode
I've Got a Secret, episode originally aired September 18, 1952
Goodyear Television Playhouse, episode Better than Walking, originally aired October 26, 1952
Tales of Tomorrow, episode Flight Overdue, originally aired March 28, 1952
Somerset Maugham TV Theatre, episode The Facts of Life, originally aired May 14, 1951
Lights Out, episode Beware This Woman, originally aired December 4, 1950
Lux Video Theatre, episode Shadow On the Heart, originally aired October 16, 1950

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Watch Veronica Lake in the 1946 noir The Blue Dahlia

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