When Brooklyn-born Constance Ockleman was prodded into a performing career by her ambitious mother, she chose her stepfather's name, Keane, for her nom de stage. After a year of thankless bit parts, she was dropped by RKO Radio Pictures. When she re-emerged at MGM in a small role in the Eddie Cantor vehicle Forty Little Mothers (1940), she was known as Veronica Lake. While posing for publicity pictures, Lake inadvertently allowed her blonde hair to obscure one eye, thereby creating her movie persona as "the girl with the peek-a-boo bang." Signed by Paramount in 1941, Lake quickly ascended to leading roles. Directors such as Preston Sturges and René Clair had the patience to draw genuine performances from her, but, for the most part, she was cast on the basis of her beauty and popularity, with acting hardly an afterthought. In This Gun for Hire (1942), Lake was teamed with up-and-coming Alan Ladd, thereby launching one of Paramount's most successful screen duos. Eventually renegotiating her contact and finding brief domestic happiness with her second husband, director André De Toth, the actress flourished professionally and financially until 1948, when she was hit with the double whammy of being dropped by Paramount and being sued for support payments by her mother. De Toth wangled a good role for Lake in the 20th Century Fox film Slattery's Hurricane (1949), but it failed to rekindle her stardom. She left Hollywood in the early '50s, making a living with stage appearances. But increasing personal problems and a stage injury effectively ended her career, and, by 1959, she was working as a Manhattan barmaid. Lake staged a comeback as a Baltimore TV host in the early '60s, and, in 1966 and 1970, financed two cheap films for herself (Footsteps in the Snow and Flesh Feast). She wrote a tell-all autobiography in 1969 and sought stage work in England. Lake returned to the U.S. in 1971; but after more personal problems and failed comeback attempts, she died of hepatitis two years later while visiting friends in Burlington, VT.