11/14/1922 to 7/7/1973
Born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman, in Brooklyn, New York. Her father worked for an oil company as a ship employee. When Veronica was 12, her father died in an explosion on an oil ship. A year later her mother wed Anthony Keane and Veronica took his last name as her own. The family moved around a lot, living in Canada, New York State and Miami, Florida. By the time Veronica had graduated from high school she was already known as one of the local Miami beauties. She felt that she was ready for films.
Her mother and step-father moved to a small home in Beverly Hills, California in 1938 where Mrs. Keane enrolled her daughter in the well known Bliss Hayden School of Acting in Hollywood. She didnt have to wait long for a part to come her way. Her first movie was a minor part in the RKO film, That Girl from College (1939). Veronica quickly followed up with two other films, All Women Have Secrets (1939) and Every Other Inch a Lady (1939).
Veronica continued her schooling, in 1940, while taking bit roles in two more films, Young as You Feel and Forty Little Mothers. Prior to this time, she was still under her natural name of Constance Keane. Now, with a better role in 1941's I Wanted Wings, she was asked to change her name and Veronica Lake was born. The film was a success and the public loved this bright newcomer. Paramount, the studio she was under contract with, then assigned her to two more films that year, Hold Back the Dawn (1941) and Sullivan's Travels (1941). The latter received good reviews from tough film critics. As Ellen Graham, in This Gun for Hire (1942) the following year, Veronica now had top billing. In 1943, Veronica starred in only one film. She portrayed Lieutenant Olivia D'Arcy in So Proudly We Hail! with Claudette Colbert. The film was a box-office smash. It seemed that any film Veronica starred in would be an unquestionable hit. However, her only outing for 1944, The Hour Before the Dawn (1944) would not be well-received by either the public or the critics. As Nazi sympathizer Dora Bruckmann, Veronica's role was dismal at best. Critics disliked her accent immensely because it wasn't true to life. Her acting itself suffered because of the accent. Mediocre films trailed her for all of 1945. It seemed that Veronica was dumped in just about any film to see if it could be salvaged. Hold That Blonde (1945), Out of This World (1945), and Miss Susie Slagle's (1946) were just a waste of talent for the beautiful blonde. In 1946, Veronica bounced back in The Blue Dahlia (1946) with Howard Da Silva. The film was a hit, but it was the last decent film for Veronica. Paramount continued to put her in pathetic movies. After 1948, Paramount discharged the once prized star and she was out on her own. In 1949, she starred in the Twentieth Century film Slattery's Hurricane (1949). She was not on the big screen again until 1952 when she appeared in Stronghold (1951). By Veronica's own admission, the film "was a dog."
From 1952 to 1966, Veronica made television appearances and even tried her hand on the stage. By then, she was down on her luck and drank heavily. In 1962, Veronica was found living in an old hotel and working as a bartender.
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.
She finally returned to the big screen in 1966 in Footsteps in the Snow. Another drought ensued and she appeared on the silver screen for the last time in 1970's Flesh Feast (1970) - a very low budget film. On July 7, 1973, Veronica died of hepatitis in Burlington, Vermont at the age of 53.