Peek-A-Boo

Peek-A-Boo

Growing up, Veronica Lake lived in a nomadic family. They moved all over. From Canada through Florida, to California. Lake was transferred from multiple, schools and it proved problematic. She was considered a wild child. Her mother says she was diagnosed her with schizophrenia. But, we only have the mother’s account. Lake became interested in acting when the family had landed in, Beverly Hills. She enrolled in acting classes and was spotted by RKO, in the late ’30’s. Unsatisfying, small roles came her way with RKO. Lake made the break and she signed with Paramount. In the early ’40’s Veronica won roles in the classic, “Sullivan’s Travels” with Joel McCrea and (my favorite) “This Gun for Hire”, a cult classic, film noir. From 1940-1942, she was a top box-office, draw! Lake’s beauty and “one-eyed, stare” became iconic. Women everywhere brushed out their hair, and wore it dangling over one eye, known as “the peek-a-boo”. Veronica and Alan Ladd made many movies together, which were probably her best. By her own admission, she wasn’t the most talented lady on the lot. Other actors had given her nicknames like, “Moronica” (witty, no?!) and treated her, badly. In 1944, Veronica played a Nazi spy and she may have just as well, played Hitler, himself.. The role was horrible and everyone started wearing their hair back up, in pin-curls. Lake was only 27, when her career skidded off the tracks. She was found living out of a hotel and working as a bar-maid. When Marlon Brando, once her lover, heard this, he sent Lake a check for $1,000. She never cashed it out of pride, but did frame it as a keepsake. This seems like a pattern of Hollywood “It” girls. Used, then thrown out like yesteday’s left-overs. The last 15 years of Lake’s life were a fast decline. Alcoholism had taken hold and she could barely work. Lake turned back to being nomadic, drifting around NYC, being arrested for public drunkenness, and disorderly conduct. She made a final film, in 1970 called “Flesh Feast” (basically, a “Hitler-zombie”, horror flick), it was bad and Veronica knew it. She’d been married 3 times and had 4 children. Yet in 1973, Veronica died alone, from complications from alcoholism. She was only 50. As sad as this ending is, we must remember how bright the beginning was. Despite her fame and star, she was a passionate flyer, a mother, and a lover. She didn’t manipulate men, she melted them. Now, I’m going to go brush my hair over my left eye!

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