Veronica Lake is probably best known for her femme fatale persona, with a haircut so iconic that it was the basis for a cartoon character. Jessica Rabbit from 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit was based on a combination of screen sirens from the past, but her peek-a-boo bangs were pure Lake.
There is some speculation about the actress’s date of birth, but it is estimated that she was born November 14, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. Her birth name was Constance Frances Marie Ockelman. She was christened Veronica Lake years later by a producer who was inspired by her lake-blue eyes.
Lake moved around a bit as a child. After her father died in a factory explosion, her mother remarried, causing her family to relocate to Montreal, Miami, and finally Beverley Hills. In California, Lake started taking acting classes and slowly found on-screen success, first in minor roles, but eventually working her way up to starring roles.
Lake was diminutive in size, standing at under five feet, but she knew how to capture an audience. She was slight and seductive, peeking out from her trademark platinum hair that fell over part of her face, a hairstyle that spawned so many imitators across the country that it almost became a hazard to women working in factories during World War 2. During her career, she starred in many movies including Sullivan’s Travels, I Married a Witch, and seven films with actor Alan Ladd.
As Lake’s career progressed, she fell into some of the Hollywood trappings. The combination of culminating mental health problems and a broken ankle in 1959 limited the amount of work she was able to find. She subsequently turned to alcohol, eventually getting arrested for disorderly conduct.
In the early sixties, she faded from the public eye and was discovered to be working at a bar, although she managed to bring herself back briefly in the spotlight after publishing an autobiography. She passed away on July 7, 1973, from hepatitis and renal failure.
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