Constance Frances Ockleman AKA: Veronica Lake
Veronica Lake was born Constance Frances Ockleman in Brooklyn, New York to a seaman father. He died in an explosion on an oil ship when Constance was five. Her mother remarried and the family was constantly on the move living in Canada, New York and Florida. She graduated from high school in Miami. The family moved to California and she was enrolled in the Bliss Hayden School of Acting in Hollywood.
Bit parts came almost immediately with RKO Studios. Her trademark was a hairstyle, with one of her eyes always obscured by her blonde hair. The style was so popular with women that those working in defense plants during World War II were accident prone and officials asked her to change.
Veronica Lake made films with Paramount during World War II. The studio requested a name change and she became Veronica Lake. Her most noted movies: ‘I Wanted Wings, Sullivan’s Travels, This Gun for Hire, The Glass Key, I married a Witch, So Proudly We Hail, Blue Dahilia and Stronghold.’ She flourished professionally until 1948 when she was dropped by Paramount and then was sued for support payments by her ambitious mother who had prodded her into a movie career starting in elementary school.
Divorced twice, she slowly declined as a movie star and her comeback films made in the 60’s were failures. Veronica made television appearances and even tried her hand on the stage which was ended by an injury suffered while appearing in a production. Some of her TV appearances: Lux Video Theatre, Goodyear Television Playhouse and Somerset Maugham TV Theatre. She was down on her luck with increasing personal problems. Relatively forgotten, she was found living in an old hotel in Manhattan working as a cocktail waitress and married to a fourth husband a commercial fisherman. She tried another return to movies ‘ Footsteps in the Snow,’ and appeared for the last time in an incredibly bad, low budget film in 1970 ‘Flesh Feast.’
While visiting friends in Burlington, Vermont, she was stricken with hepatitis and taken to a hospital dying penniless at the age of 53. A small memorial service was held at a Manhattan mortuary arranged by a friend who had penned a tell-all autobiography as described by Veronica in 1969.
Cremated, her ashes sat on a mortuary shelf in Burlington for three years because of non-payment for services. Finally, her friends paid the bill and her ashes were shipped to Florida where in a brief ceremony, deposited the ashes in the water off Miami as she had requested.