Veronica Lake could have been one of the most famous Hollywood actresses in the 40s, but tragedy always haunted her even after her death, as nobody claimed her remains for years.
Born in Brooklyn in November 1922, Veronica Lake moved to Florida in the late 30s and was described as a “little firecracker” by one of her teachers at Miami High School as she would stand up for her classmates if needed.
VERONICA LAKE’S UPBRINGING
That same teacher pointed out that Lake had more “spunk” than most teenage girls, but her mother didn’t see that aspect of her personality as a positive trait.
As a result, she took her to a doctor who supposedly diagnosed her with paranoia and schizophrenia. Lake’s mother has been noted as an unreliable source as she always had a specific agenda.
Still, she claimed Lake refused to get treated. Instead, the hopeful actress competed in beauty contests in Florida where she showed an unusual talent: she could suggestively pull off her dress to show her bathing suit underneath.
Lake was very confident in herself, too. In one of the Miss Miami contests held in 1938, she told the rest of the pageants that she didn’t mean to hurt their feelings, but she would win.
She placed third, though. After the event, she told everybody else she didn’t care about it as she had bigger plans: going to Hollywood.
LAKE’S SHORT-LIVED ACTING CAREER
After moving to Los Angeles, she started booking minor parts in small projects until 1941’s “I Wanted Wings” catapulted her career.
In just two years, Lake became nothing short of an icon. Everyone wanted to be like her after her incredible performances in “Sullivan’s Travels” and “I Married a Witch.”
She used alcohol to cope with her problems, but it didn’t help.
While she never won a significant award, those two films cemented her as an "it girl." Many women wanted to rock her signature peek-a-boo hairstyle during that time, but sadly, things quickly went out of control.
By 1943, Lake already had the reputation of being hard to work with. Her co-star in the 1943 musical “Star Spangled Rhythm” Eddie Bracken said she deserved that status.
The following year, tragedy came knocking on her door. While filming “The Hour Before the Dawn,” she tripped on a cable and fell. Sadly, she was pregnant and started hemorrhaging right away.
Although the child was eventually born, they didn’t make it past one week. Challenges kept coming her way as none of her marriages lasted, and Paramount canceled her contract in the late 40s after people lost interest in her.
She used alcohol to cope with her problems, but it didn’t help (she was frequently arrested for being drunk in public). She tried to take back her acting career by working on TV and low-budget films, but it didn’t work.
Lake filed for bankruptcy and faced the IRS for unpaid taxes, too, and was living in cheap New York hotels by the end of the 50s. In the 60s, she attracted a lot of attention after being spotted working as a barmaid in Manhattan.
Her alleged mental issues came back at the end of her life as she started thinking that the FBI was pursuing her. Unfortunately, Lake went from being a Hollywood icon to dying alone and with no money on July 7, 1973.
If that wasn’t bad enough, nobody claimed her ashes until almost three years after her passing, mainly because nobody paid for the cremation bill.
Eventually, two people volunteered to take her ashes to Florida and supposedly scattered them in the ocean, miles away from the coast in Miami. Almost three decades later, a portion of Lake’s ashes reappeared.
Graphic designer and Lake’s fan Larry Brill claimed that he has had them since an off-Broadway producer sent them to him in a manila envelope in 1979. As of 2004, he was considering selling them. So far, it’s unclear where Lake’s remains are.