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Veronica Lake: Of Dreams and Tragedy

Veronica Lake could have been a star Hollywood actress in the 40s. However, tragedy haunted Lake for years, even after she died.

Veronica Lake was born November 1922 in Brooklyn. She later moved to Florida in the 30s. A Miami High School teacher described her as a “little firecracker”, because she stood up for her classmates if they needed her.

Lake was more “spunky” than most teenage girls, according to the same teacher. But her mother didn’t see this aspect as a positive.

According to her, her mother took her to a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with schizophrenia. Lake’s mother is a notoriously unreliable source because she has a very specific agenda.

Lake refused to be treated, even though she said so. Instead, she entered beauty contests in Florida and showed an unusual talent: her ability to suggestively pull down her dress to reveal her bathing suit underneath.

Lake was confident in herself too. She also told the Miss Miami contestants, in 1938, that she was not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings and that she would win.

But she finished third. After the event, she said to everyone that she didn’t care because she had bigger plans: Going to Hollywood.

She began booking parts in small projects after moving to Los Angeles. Then, 1941’s “I Wanted Wings”, catapulted her career.

Lake quickly became an icon within two years. After her performances in “Sullivan’s Travels,” and “I Married a Witch,” everyone wanted her to be an icon.

She tried to use alcohol to deal with her problems but it did not work.

While she did not win any awards, these two films helped to establish her as the “it girl.” Many women wanted to sport her iconic peek-aboo hairstyle, but it quickly became too much.

Lake had already earned a reputation for being hardworking by 1943. Eddie Bracken, Lake’s co-star from 1943’s musical Star Spangled Rhythm said that she deserved that title.

Tragic events struck the next year. She fell while filming “The Hour Before the Dawn” and tripped on a cable. She was soon pregnant when she began bleeding.

They didn’t survive the first week of their pregnancy, even though they were eventually born. She was constantly faced with challenges. None of her marriages were successful, and Paramount ended her contract in the late 1940s when she lost interest.

She tried to use alcohol to manage her problems but it did not work. She was regularly arrested for drinking in public. She tried to get back into acting by working in low-budget films and television, but it didn’t work.

Lake filed for bankruptcy in order to face the IRS for unpaid tax. She was living in New York’s cheapest hotels by the middle of the 50s. She was spotted in Manhattan as a barmaid during the 1960s and attracted much attention.

She began thinking that the FBI was after her. Lake was no longer a Hollywood star, but she died on July 7, 1973, alone and without money.