So, how much did YOU know about Veronica Lake?
She had a meteoric career in the Forties, emerging as a 19-year-old star in her first big Hollywood movie, 1941’s I Wanted Wings costarring Ray Milland and William Holden.
She was a star favorite throughout the World War II years whose distinctively flowing hair style drew an official government warning to the droves of Rosie the Riveters working near dangerous equipment on factory floors. (Use that hairnet. Don’t try an emulate Lake’s coiffure during working hours!)
By the early Fifties, with more about 30 movie titles under her belt, Lake was gone. TV and stage appearances on the East Coast took over from there. She died four husbands later in Vermont — at age 50 — in 1973 of hepatitus. To fans of director Preston Sturges (Sullivan’s Travels) and of memorable film noirs (The Blue Dahlia, This Gun For Hire), Veronica Lake lives on.
Ok, here are the answers to our Monday Quiz. Our inspiration here is Veronica: The Autobiography of Veronica Lake, published two years before her death. (It’s a good read; see if you can locate a copy.) To review questions, just scroll down below to Monday’s blog.
1) Answer: b) Producer Arthur Hornblow Jr., who cast Lake in I Wanted Wings. He maintained that her blue eyes had the “calmness” of a lake, and that “Veronica” suggested the actress’ “classic features.” Whatever the reasoning, the new name stuck.
2) Answer: d) Robert Preston provided Lake’s first screen kiss in 1942’s This Gun For Hire. Wrote Lake: My nose was pressed too firmly against his cheek and I couldn’t breathe. Nonetheless, she got the shot in the first take.
3) Answer: b) Busby Berkeley, who directed Lake in 1940’s Forty Little Mothers starring Eddie Cantor. Lake’s hair accidentally fell over one eye during the filming upsetting her and infuriating Cantor. But Berkeley felt differently: let it fall. It distinguishes her from the rest. He was right.
4) Answer: b) False. Lake was short, just a half inch under 5 feet. Good thing because Alan Ladd stood all of 5-feet 6-1/4 inches.
5) Answer: b) To quote Lake, I hated Fredric March. The two costarred in the 1942 romantic comedy I Married A Witch. Things were hardly romantic between the two; out of camera range Lake kicked March in the groin during one scene. The loathing was mutual.
6) Answer: b) False. There were no romantic sparks between Ladd and Lake, who wrote: There is no actor with whom I’m more closely connected than Alan Ladd. And yet we had less to do with each other than most other acting teams.
7) Answer: d) The Hour Before Dawn was the beginning of the downward slide, reported Lake. Up until she costarred with Franchot Tone in the 1944 filmization of a W. Somerset Maugham novel about pacifism, Lake’s career had gone swimmingly. After that it was my long series of bad films that never did a thing for my career.
8) Answer: b) False. Director Preston Sturges and Lake remained the best of friends. (After Sullivan’s Travels), Lake observed, he never directed me again, which was my loss. But he said many nice things about me to the studio people and to the general public.
9) Answer: a) It appears the winner here is Hungarian born director Andre De Toth, who was Lake’s second husband, about whom she wrote: He was so European in so many ways…but he was no European lover…Whoever made up that joke with the punch line, ‘Wham, bam, thank you, ma’m’ must have had (De Toth) in mind. The couple married in 1944, and divorced in 1952.
10) Answer: a) Bring on the Girls. During production of this Paramount musical, costarring Eddie Bracken and Sonny Tufts, Lake met De Toth. (See Answer to No. 9.)