A Year: Day to Day Men: 14th of November

Pale Skin and Leather

November 14, 1922 was the birthdate of American actress Veronica Lake.

Born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman in the Borough of Brooklynn, Veronica Lake moved to Miami, Florida with her family and attended Miami High School. In 1938 the family moved to Beverly Hills, California, where she was briefly under contract to MGM. Lake enrolled in MGM’s acting school, the Bliss-Hayden School of Acting, and soon went to an audition at RKO studio. She later appeared in the 1939 play “Thought for Food” and had a small role in “She Made Her Bed”.

Veronica Lake appeared as an extra in a number of movies. Her first appearance on screen was for RKO in the 1939 co-ed film “Sorority House”, which wound up being cut from the film. Lake was given similar roles in “All Women Have Secrets” “Forty Little Mothers” and “Dancing Co-Ed”. Producer Arthur Hornblow Jr. from Paramount Pictures decided to give her a chance in the role of a nightclub singer in a military drama entitled “I Wanted Wings”, released in 1940. This role made Veronica Lake, still in her teens, a star.

It was during the filming of “I Wanted Wings” that Veronica Lake developed her signature look. Lake’s long blonde hair accidentally fell over her right eye during a take and created a peek-a-boo effect. After the film was a big hit, the hairstyle became Lakes’s trademark and inspired women to copy it. Paramount next cast Lake in Preston Sturges’s “Sullivan’s Travels” with Joel McCrea. Next came the 1942 thriller “This Gun for Hire” with Robert Preston and Alan Ladd. She and Alan Ladd both had cameos in the all-star Paramount film “Star Spangled Rhythm” in 1942.

During World War II, Veronica Lake became popular as a pin-up girl for soldiers and traveled throughout the United States raising money for war bonds. Lake’s career began to falter after her portrayal as a Nazi spy in the 1944 “The Hour Before the Dawn”. Diagnosed early in her life with schizophrenia, Lake, after receiving scathing reviews, began drinking more heavily during this period, prompting many actors to refuse to work with her. After some time off, Lake was brought back in the 1945 “Bring On the Girls”, her first proper musical.

Veronica Lake made more movies between 1947 and 1951: a western “Ramrod” in 1947; the 1948 “Saigon” which reunited her with actor Alan Ladd; a romantic drama “Isn’t It Romantic” and a comedy “The Sainted Sisters”, both in 1948 and not well received by audiences. In 1948 Paramount decided not to renew Veronica Lake’s contract. After that, she performed in two more films in minor roles, was a television host for a brief stint and performed in summer stock theater.

In June of 1972, Veronica lake visited a doctor complaining of stomach pains. She was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver as a result of her years of drinking and was admitted on June 26 to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. She died there on July 7, 1973 of acute hepatitis and acute kidney injury. Veronica Lake was cremated and her ashes scattered off the coast of the Virgin Islands. For her contributions to the film industry, Lake has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6918 Hollywood Boulevard.

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