Did Veronica Lake lie about her age?

Wikipedia says she was born in 1922. In this 1952 interview:


she looks like she is in her late 40’s.
In this 1971 interview:

she looks like she is in her late 60’s. In the beginning of the 1971 interview, she appears (to me) to joke that she is lying about her age. According to Wikipedia she had her first child in 1941 and her last in 1948. She had already started her film career by 1941, so that would seem early, at least for a film star to start having kids today. How easy would it be to fake your age back then? Commenters on these videos say alcoholism made her age rapidly. Is that a more likely explanation?

I doubt if she “lied about her age” and I doubt if Wikipedia put her age down based on just her say-so. Two other things.

  1. Your estimates of her ages in those clip are way off, in my opinion, and based on how people look today (with various cosmetic medical procedures that either weren’t available then or that she chose to eschew). If she had been made up for a movie she would likely have looked younger and more glamorous. I thought she looked great in the second clip; in the first she was the victim of an unflattering hairstyle.

  2. Different people age at different rates. Her ethnic background includes a lot of Irish ancestry, she had very fair skin, and those factors may have combined so that her skin may have made her look older than she was.

Yes, though she was already married at that point, and one shouldn’t necessarily assume that they were intending on having a baby right away. Accidents happen, and that was before many of the more reliable birth-control methods used today, like the pill and IUDs (IUDs did exist back then, but weren’t common in the U.S.).

It’s not hard at all to find examples of actors and actresses from that era whose “public” age (as publicized by their studios) was a few years younger than their actual age.

It’s entirely possible that Lake was a few years older than she stated, but as even her Wikipedia entry contains a fairly detailed biography of her early life, I would have to imagine that, if she was born before 1922, some fan would have hunted this down and documented it.

I think that it’s more likely that, if she looked older than her age when she got into her 30s and 40s, it was the result of a hard life (I don’t know a lot about her, but her biography on Wikipedia suggests that “troubled life” doesn’t even begin to describe it).

Wikipedia has a link to the 1930 census which lists Constance Ockelman (Lake’s real name) as a seven-year-old. So it appears her stated age is correct.

I read somewhere she was ‘a paranoid schizophrenic’. I’m wondering how true that could be, there were no psychotropic drugs back then, only institutionalization. Unless she somehow suffered a ‘mild’ case of it and had a team of handlers to manage her film career, making sure she showed up on time, etc.

I doubt, however, that she was an inland body of fresh water.

Pretty easy. Either you, your agent, your parents, or the studio lies about it, and research wasn’t just a few clicks away as it is now. (Although V. Lake’s appears to be legit.)

Similarly. . . . Shelley Winters had clamed for decades that she had been nominated for an Oscar for “A Double Life” (1947). Robert Osborne informed her that no, she hadn’t publicly on Dinah Shore’s talk show in the 1970s.

There was a lot more of kayfabe claims in the olden days.

I misread your post, and thought you were considering medication as an ageing factor. I will address it anyway. This says medications were introduced in the 1950s:


But that seems too late to wear on her enough for the 1952 interview. She appears to have starred in a radio show showing electroshock was being done:
http://www.radiohorrorhosts.com/exploringtheunknown.html
Would antipsychotic medication and/or electroshock cause a person to “age fast”? Maybe her performance in the radio show led to a myth that she was a schizophrenic, but really not?

Well, that Wikipedia article includes a line:

Beyond that, it also mentions a miscarriage, three marriages that ended in divorce, a personal bankruptcy, and heavy drinking, as well as several mentions of a reputation as being difficult to work with.

Plus, she peaked in her career at a very young age: she became a star at age 19, but her acting career was largely over by her late 20s.

All of that stress could certainly have had an impact on her mental (and physical) health, even without the additional effect of drugs.

Between wondering if she lied about her age, and then wondering if electroshock or psychiatric drugs prematurely aged her, I think you’re looking for a more complex answer for your question about her appearance, when there’s already some pretty obvious contributing factors already laid out.

Celebrities often mis-state their age to seem younger. Many people continue something started at a young age to make themselves seem older. The vast majority of people have recorded birth certificates which can clear up the matter.

Al “Grandpa Munster” claimed to have been born in 1910 many times but records indicate he was born in 1923. Maybe he wanted to get cast as older characters. The late singer Laura Branigan shaved some years off her age for a while, I assume to seem younger and more appealing to pop music fans. A friend of mine went to school with her and when my friend was 40 she pointed out Branigan could not be 30 years old at the time as stated on the radio. Wikipedia lists her birth year as 1952 which would be about right.

Giving a misleading age in interview isn’t a crime, it’s not a matter of fraud.

Related anecdote, Mila Kunis was hired to play on That 70s Show when she was 14. The producers asked her how old she was and she said to them “I’m going to be 16”, which turned out to be true, but sounded more like her 16th birthday was coming up soon.

People looked older in previous generations, and they seem to have liked it that way. I have a picture of my mother where she looks like she’s at least 30-35 years old. It was taken in 1930 when she was 20. It’s the picture in her college yearbook, when she was a junior.

In fact she and all her family aged well, so she looked pretty much like that for the next 45 years. But she did not look like a 20-year-old of today and none of her classmates did, either.

Here’s an undated photo of Judy Garland. How old do you think she looks?

Pretty much any age you guessed would be wrong. Judy Garland died just after her 47th birthday. And she couldn’t have shaved very much off her age because she started performing in vaudeville when she was two years old.

Here’sElvis Presley in 1968. And here he is in 1977.

Similarly, Melody Patterson was 15 when she was cast in F Troop. When she did a guest spot on the* Monkees*, she wasfour years younger than Davy Jones.

Some people seem to be expressing impatience, and want to squelch the discussion with the conclusion: no lie. I can understand that perspective, but I am here out of boredom. I didn’t actually read the wikipedia article. I just used it for a reference for specific dates. I have since skimmed it a little. Behold this from it:
“Lake later claimed she attended McGill University and took a premed course for a year, intending to become a surgeon. With this being included in many press biographies (although she later declared her claim was a fabrication), Lake felt guilty and subsequently apologized to the president of McGill who was simply amused when she explained her habit of self-dramatizing.”
Given that, does your subjective probability that she lied about her age go up? (I didn’t even read that Veronica Lake was a stage name before either. She totally should have gone with Victoria Lake instead.)

Garland looks younger than 47 in that photo. I would guess mid-30s.

Nope, because, as Little Nemo points out, the 1930 Census shows her, under her birth name, at the correct age.

And, as I noted upthread, AFAICT, there’s never been any evidence discovered or presented (e.g., old school records, old childhood friends) that contradict her stated birth year of 1922.

The only evidence seems to be that you feel she looks older than her stated age in those films you referred to in your OP.

If you’re bored, and still think that there’s something to your theory, do some digging on your own. See if you can find any articles, any fan sites, anything that presents any solid contradictory evidence to 1922 as her birth year. If you find that, let us know. Otherwise, you’re just noodling and looking for a reason to ignore the evidence we’re showing you.

I just thought it was a good time/place to mention it. I find it hard to believe… I know now, with the psychiatric drugs they have now, they can make you put on as much as a pound a day! She would never have been a star today if she had that horrible illness.

What if she knew of a schizophrenic 20 years younger than her (and so recorded in a census), and coordinated with said person’s mom to say Veronica Lake is my daughter? As pointed out above (serious enough) schizophrenia = institutionalization in 1900 to 1950’s America. Again, just bored musing.

It’s getting less like musing and more like confabulation, though. People are not hastily dismissing what you’re saying - they’re dismissing it all right, but it’s being dismissed by evidence and careful consideration.

A random seven year old that happened to have her name? Which as I’ll remind you is the not very common name of Constance Ockelman. And this other Constance Ockelman happened to be living in Lake’s home town. And happened to be living with Lake’s parents.

I’ll also point out another problem with your theory; Lake’s mother was only twenty years old when Lake was born.

Here’s anther problem: Lake made her film debut in Sorority House in 1939 at the age of seventeen. According to your theory, she was actually thirty-seven. Don’t you think somebody would have noticed?