Monday, March 12, 2012

Veronica Lake

Veronica Lake with her Peek-A-Boo bang

For my birthday I got Veronica Lake's Autobiography. It's out of print and extremely hard to find.  I ended up having to pay $40.00 for a cheap .25 book.  But I didn't care I have been wanting it for a long while.  I read it and I loved it so much.  The reviews for it are amazing so I don't understand why they don't reprint it but I guess the following isn't too big.  She is honest, raw and pained.  She doesn't hide her drinking or her bad choices.  As with all autobiographies she glosses over some of the really bad parts of her life but she does make them known, which is more than some autobiographies do. 

I paid $40 and it came with a .25 stamp!

Veronica Lake was born Constance Ockleman and won Miss Florida contest in 1937 but lost the title when judges found out she was 16 instead of 18.  She came to California in 1938 and got 3rd billing in I Wanted Wings in 1941.  It was here that for a picture she looked down and her hair fell in her face.  That picture ran as promotion for the film and her popularity soared before the film came out.  From there she made a few more films before falling to the pressures of the big film companies.  They paired her with Alan Ladd because he was only 5 foot 7 and with Veronica being 5 foot 1 he didn't have to stand on a box.  She spoke highly of Alan Ladd saying they had a, "good albeit aloof relationship".  During filming of The Hour Before Dawn she tripped and fell while pregnant and gave birth to a son 6 weeks early.  He only lived one week.

She was married to Andre De Toth for almost 8 years.  He is known for directing House of Wax in 3D in 1953.  Interestingly enough, he was blind in one eye and therefor unable to watch that film in 3D.  I've seen it in 2D and can tell it is missing something.  After that marriage ended Veronica left California and drifted between jobs and alcohol for the next 20 years.  She was found working in a hotel bar and Marlon Brando (her former lover) sent her $1,000 which she returned because of pride.  A few years later is when she wrote her autobiography. 

Where the book leaves off is in 1968 where for the next few years she continues to drift through jobs and alcohol before moving to England and marrying her 4th husband before finally succumbing to alcoholism at age 50. 

Peek-A-Boo complete with gloves

As I said it was an amazing book.  And though it was ghostwritten you can hear her honesty.  The only other book about Veronica Lake is written by Jeff Lenburg. The reviews are terrible.  Everyone says that it is jaded and the main source of information is Veronica Lakes mother who sued Veronica in 1947 and never spoke to her after that.  Therefore, the information is skewed.  It too is out of print and the cheapest I've found is $50.  I am not going to pay $50 for a book that I heard is horrible.  However, I will drive 45 miles to find it at a library.  Which is exactly what I did.  I found it at this little library in Erie. 

Terrible book

It was a terrible book.  And I'm so grateful I had read Veronicas autobiography 1st or I would have been inclined to believe Veronica was a terrible person.  The entire book talks about her being schizophrenic.  Everything she did wrong was because of this diagnosis which was never actually diagnosed. You can hear Veronicas mothers vengeance seeping through the pages and the way the author chose to tell this story indicates a deep well of hatred that ultimately tarnishes him.  And it really bugged me when he said her weight soared to 106.  Yes, she was small but 106 on her was nothing drastic.  And he had some dates wrong.  He said her daughter was 4 when she divorced for the 1st time but that isn't correct.  He also said she arrived in California in 1940 but she was in a film in 1939 a year after she came to Hollywood. He destroyed his credibility with those dates being severely messed up.  And those are just the ones I noticed. 

So I am very happy I did not buy it and I never will.  I look forward to continuing to see all of Veronicas films.  So far I have only seen 6 out of 19.  But I'm hopeful TCM will play some more of her stuff. 

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