Died: July 7, 1973
Married: John Detlie, 1940; Andre de Toth, 1943; Joseph A. McCarthy, c. 1955 divorced September 12, 1955
Children: Elaine Keane Detlie b. 1941; William Anthony Detlie b. July 8, 1943 d. July 15, 1943; Andre Anthony Michael De Toth III b. October 1945 d. February 24, 1991; Diana de Toth b. 1948
"Veronica Lake" was the stage name of Constance Frances Marie Ockleman. She was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Harry E. Ockleman, died in an industrial explosion in Philadelphia in 1932 when she was ten. Her mother remarried, to Anthony Keane; when he became a patient in Saranac Lake, mother and daughter moved here, too, and young Constance — under the name of Constance Keane — graduated from St. Bernard's School in 1938. Elizabeth Sullivan Pelletieri was a school-girl friend there. The family lived at 1 Watson Place, now 27 Seneca Street. Natalie Leduc, who lived nearby, remembers her as her baby-sitter. The 1935 village directory lists an Anthony H. Keane at 1 Watson Place, and the 1936 directory has him at 1 Riverside Drive. Shortly after, the family moved to Miami, Florida, and in 1938 they moved to Beverly Hills, California, where her mother enrolled her in acting classes.
A year later, beginning at age 17 in 1939 and '40 she appeared in six films, uncredited, or listed as Contance Keane. Then in 1941, after another uncredited role, she madeI Wanted Wings, with Ray Milland and William Holden, followed by Sullivan's Travels. She made 19 more films in the 1940s, including four with Alan Ladd.
As a actress, she was well-known for her blonde, shoulder-length, "peek-a-boo" hairstyle, a wave that nearly covered one eye. At the end of her short life, she may have stayed at Will Rogers Hospital, before dying in a hospital in Burlington, Vermont.
Lake Placid News, November 10, 1944
It is feared that Placid blades were asleep at the switch when Veronica Lake was in Saranac Lake and where she admits to "her first romantic mood." The film actress has announced that she will marry Director Andre DeRoth soon after her divorce from a former screen director, Maj. John Delie, father of Elaine, three. As Constance Keane she spent three summers in Saranac Lake, the last eight years back. After taking the stage name, Veronica Lake, she intimated in her autobiography that her first "affair," unsuccessful to say the least, was with a teen-age youngster in Saranac Lake. By the time "he was able to give me a tumble" she said "I was no longer interested." The young man has since married and is now a lieutenant in the air forces.
Local boys missed their chance when Veronica was close enough to touch. Now they content themselves with ardent gazes at her as a pin-up girl.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 22, 1962
Veronica Lake attended the Saranac Lake High School in the mid thirties and lived at 1 Riverside Drive. At one time when she was at the height of her career in movies there was a move instituted to rename Lake Colby Veronica Lake.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 30, 1963
NEW YORK (AP) — Veronica Lake, who became a movie sensation in the 1940s with her peekaboo hairdo then faded into obscurity, returned to acting Thursday night.
"I was scared silly," said Miss Lake after the performance, her debut on the New York stage. "But it was great. Damn, it's great to be back."
When she came on stage midway in the first act of "Best Foot Forward" at the off-Broadway Stage 73 Theater, applause stopped the action momentarily. In the musical comedy, a revival of the 1950 Broadway hit, she plays Gale Joy, a tarnished movie queen whose star has begun to set.
Veronica, who once earned $4,500 a week, also is trying to start a comeback.
Her real name is Connie Keane and she is a former resident of Saranac Lake.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 9, 1973
Ex-Saranac Lake girl, Veronica Lake, is dead
SARANAC LAKE — Veronica Lake, 53, the movie actress who once lived in Saranac Lake, died of hepatitis Saturday in Burlington, Vt. She had been in the hospital there since June.
Miss Lake won fame and favor at the box office in the early 1940s, and her long, blonde hair worn over one eye, set a fashion for a time.
The New York Times said that her real name was Connie Ockleman, but in Saranac Lake High School in the late 30s, she was known as Connie Keane.
She was born in Brooklyn, the daughter of a ship's master. After leaving Saranac Lake, she went to Miami where she won third prize in a beauty contest which encouraged he to move to Hollywood.
At first, she had bit parts, but in 1941 won a leading role as a nightclub singer in "I Wanted Wings." The movie was a hit, and she was then starred with Joel McCrea in "Sullivan's Travels."
This was followed by another hit, "This Gun for Hire," with Alan Ladd. They made a number of "tough guy" movies together after this one became a success.
Other films in which Miss Lake starred were "The Glass Key," "I Married a Witch," "Star-Spangled Rhythm," "So Proudly We Hail," "The Hour Before Dawn," "Bring On the Girls," "Hold the Blonde," "Out of This World," "Miss Susie Slagle's," "Isn't It Romantic," "The Sainted Sisters," "Saigon" and "Slatterly's Hurricane."
She married four times. In 1940 she was married to John Detlie, a study art director. They had a daughter, Elaine. A year after her divorce from Mr. Detlie in 1943, Miss Lake married Andre de Toth, a movie director. They had two children, Andre and Diane. The couple were divorced in 1952. Three years later she was married to Joseph A. McCarthy, a music publisher and song writer, but this marriage, too, ended in divorce about 1960. In later years, she said she rarely saw or heard from her children. At one point in her career, she was sued for non support by her mother.
Her autobiography, Veronica, says that she drank a lot after she had passed the peak of her fame. In 1962, working as a cocktail waitress in New York City, she was discovered by an Associated Press reporter who wrote an article about the former actress watching her old pictures on the TV in the cocktail lounge.
In 1963 she made a comeback, this time on the New York stage as the tarnished movie queen, Gale Joy, in "Best Foot Forward." Her entrance the first night was greeted with show stopping applause.
She returned to Hollywood in 1971 as a promotion for her autobiography. At that time she was making her home in Ipswich, England.
Miss Lake was five feet, two inches and weighed only about 100 pounds. Her long hair was so copied that during World War II a government agency asked her to try a new style because many women with long hair were catching it in factory machines.
Her business manager, William Roos, said that the funeral probably will be held Wednesday in the Actors Chapel in New York City. He said the actress had requested cremation.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 14, 1999
Biographer is seeking information on Veronica Lake
To the Editor
I'm researching the life of 1940s peek-a-boo movie siren Veronica Lake for an in-depth biography. Lake (formerly known as Constance Ockleman) was born in Brooklyn during the late teens or early twenties Her father, Harry, was a seaman with Sun Oil Company. The family spent some time at Saranac Lake during the late Twenties and early 1930s. Harry died in 1932. Lake's mother, Constance, married Anthony Keane, an illustrator, a year later (Lake then went by the name of Constance "Connie" Keane). The Keanes spent some time in the Adirondacks during the early and mid 1930s. Lake herself made a return visit during the summer of 1973 shortly before her death.
I would like to hear from any individual who personally knew Veronica Lake and/or her family (the Ockleman/Keane addresses, names and addresses of schools Connie attended, etc.), letters and photos would be greatly appreciated. Individuals who supply helpful, information will be credited in the acknowledgement.
Thank you, Stephen O'Brien 100 Goodrich Avenue Warwick, RI 02886
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 24, 1997
From its days in a wooden schoolhouse, St. Bernard's has endured
Saranac Lake's Catholic school celebrates 75 years of educating Tri-Lakes children
by Lisa Feil
. . . A review of the names of St. Bernard's students reveals that Veronica Lake was a 1936 eighth grade graduate. . . .
Recent (2011) research in the Adirondack Collection of the Saranac Lake Free Library:
No high school yearbooks between 1939-1942 included Constance/Connie Ockelman/Ockleman/Keane. She doesn’t appear in any graduating class, and the undergraduate pages have only unidentified group pictures. If you knew well what she looked like then, you might be able to pick her out.
There is no record of Anthony/Tony Keane, her stepfather in the “Registration of a Case of T.B.” cards.
There is a biography or autobiography titled “Veronica”/Veronica Lake with Donald Bain, c 1971. Bantam Books, 1972, but it's not in the local library.
The Adirondack Collection does have a batch of nine 8x10” glossies from her appearances, catalogued as #85.581. They start with “Sorority House” in 1939, her first movie appearance, so apparently she wasn’t in school here then. Then in 1941 there are “I Wanted Wings” (noted as “The first movie” in pencil on the back, although she had appeared in six films at that point, including two in which she was credited as Constance Keane) and “Sullivan’s Travels”; “The Glass Key” in 1942; and “So Proudly We Hail” in 1943.
- Wikipedia: Veronica Lake
- IMDB: Veronica Lake
- Turner Classic Movies: Veronica Lake
- Adirondack Life Magazine, August 2013 Veronica Lake