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Veronica Lake

Real name: Constance Frances Marie Ockleman
Birthdate: November 14, 1919
Status: Married
Partner: Robert Carleton-Munro

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Her success was fleeting. Following a string of broken marriages and long struggles with mental illness and alcoholism, she died almost destitute.

Veronica Lake was born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman in Brooklyn, New York on November 14, 1922. Her father, Harry E. Ockelman, of German-Dutch descent, worked for an oil company onboard a ship. When she was about one year old, the family moved to Florida but returned to Brooklyn before she was five. Her father died in an industrial explosion in Philadelphia in 1932 when she was 9. Her mother (née Constance Charlotta Trimble) married family friend Anthony Keane, a newspaper staff artist, a year later, and Ockelman began using his last name.

Connie was sent to an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Montreal, Canada, which she hated. The Keane family later moved to Miami, Florida. Constance Keane attended high school in Miami, where she was known for her beauty. She had a troubled childhood and was allegedly diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic during her teenage years, although no records exist to verify this diagnosis.

In 1938, Keane moved with her mother and step-father to Beverly Hills, California, where her mother enrolled Keane in the celebrated Bliss-Hayden School of Acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Her first appearance on screen was for RKO, playing a small role among several coeds in the 1939 film, Sorority House. Similar roles followed, including All Women Have Secrets and Dancing Co-Ed.

Nevertheless, Lake was making $4,500 per week under her contract with Paramount when she married director André de Toth in 1944. Their son, her third child, André Michael de Toth III, was born October 25, 1945. Lake is said to have begun drinking more heavily during this period and people began refusing to work with her.

Paramount cast Lake in a string of mostly forgotten films. A notable exception was The Blue Dahlia (1946) in which she again co-starred with Alan Ladd (who reportedly was also less than fond of her). During filming, author Raymond Chandler referred to her as "Moronica Lake". Paramount decided not to renew her contract in 1948.

A reporter found her working as a barmaid at the all women's Martha Washington Hotel in Manhattan. At first, Veronica claimed that she was a guest at the hotel and covering for a friend. Soon afterward, she admitted that she was employed at the bar. The reporter's widely distributed story led to some television and stage appearances. In 1966, she had a brief stint as a TV hostess in Baltimore, Maryland, along with a largely ignored film role in Footsteps in the Snow.

She then moved to the UK, where she had a short-lived marriage with "English sea captain" Robert Carleton-Munro before returning to the U.S. in 1973, having filed for divorce. Lake was immediately hospitalized and although she is said to have made a cheerful and positive impression on the nurses who cared for her, she was apparently estranged from her three surviving children. She had no guests or visitors and was destitute again.

Lake was 50 when she died of hepatitis and acute renal failure (complications of her alcoholism) near Burlington, Vermont. Her ashes were scattered off the Virgin Islands.

Lake has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6918 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to the motion picture industry.


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