What Happened To Veronica Lake's Body After She Died?

Constance Frances Marie Ockelman — popularly known as Veronica Lake — was born on November 14, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York. In her teens, Ockelman participated in a beauty contest in Miami, Florida, where she finished third place. Her family soon moved to Los Angeles afterward to chase the teen's dream of becoming a Hollywood star, per the Herald-Tribune. Her name was changed to Veronica Lake, which was chosen for her classic beauty and the "coolness people felt" when they looked into her eyes, which was like looking into a calm lake.

Lake started getting roles in movies, and she was known as one of the biggest movie stars in the early 1940s. Her star continued to shine for about a decade, but by the early 1950s, her career went on a downward spiral. According to Sun Community News, her contract with a studio had by then expired, and it was not renewed. Roles were no longer offered to her, and that's when she decided to leave the glamorous Hollywood life behind.

Life after Hollywood

In her autobiography, Veronica Lake stated that she was not meant to be in Hollywood. "I had to get out. I was never psychologically meant to be a picture star," she wrote. Eddie Muller, a writer and TCM host who wrote the introduction to the biography, said that Lake felt pressure from her mother to pursue a Hollywood career, but Lake "was naturally rebellious" and "got tired of people expecting her to fit into a box," (via Closer Weekly). The actress drank alcohol to cope, and she finally decided to leave acting behind in 1952.

By the early 1960s, Lake was working as a cocktail waitress in a hotel. She lived under the name Connie de Toth, and she enjoyed her new job. A journalist discovered what the former actress was doing, and the public soon learned of her new job. Lake's fans sent her money and gifts, which rubbed her the wrong way. "People felt very sorry for me. But I really enjoyed the job ... I seem to have found peace. Spare me the high pressures of success, I've been there," she said, per the New York Post. The former actress said that she took the job because she loved interacting with people and not because that was her only choice. She refused all the presents she received and sent them back.

Veronica Lake's death

The late 1960s came, and by that time, those who knew Veronica Lake witnessed the former actress' downward spiral. As reported by Great Entertainers Archives, she became an alcoholic and a recluse. She had a pale complexion, her hair remained unwashed for long periods of time, and her teeth were rotten. Lake released her autobiography titled "Veronica" in 1970, which put her back in the spotlight for a brief period. She even appeared in a movie titled "Flesh is Feast" that same year, but she relocated to the British Isles soon after and married her fourth husband, a man known as Captain Bob. The marriage didn't last long, and after they separated, Lake went back home to the United States in early 1973.

Lake had hepatitis that was "pretty far along" by the time she returned home. She was admitted to Will Rogers Hospital and then transferred to the Fletcher Allen Hospital in Vermont in June 1973. Her health was poor, and she continued to deteriorate. Her true identity was revealed during her hospital stay, and for a while, the former actress reveled in the attention she received from hospital staff. "She was very cheerful and friendly, happy and looking forward to the future, and still retained a shadow of her former beauty," a nurse said. Despite treatments, her health declined and she died on July 7, 1973, at 50 years old, per The New York Times.

Veronica Lake's ashes

Veronica Lake's body was cremated, and her ashes remained at a funeral home in Vermont for a few years. As reported by The New York Times, Lake's friend, Donald Bain, retrieved Lake's ashes in 1976 and shipped them to the actress' closest friends — Dick Toman and William Roos. It was Lake's wish to have her ashes scattered in Miami waters, which her friends did, but they reportedly also kept some and sent them to record producer Ben Bagley.

In 2004, a woman in Phoenicia, New York, claimed that a film canister she had in her store contained the ashes of Lake. Laura Levine owns a shop called Mystery Spot that sells costume jewelry, vintage clothing, and other items. Levine said that she borrowed the ashes from one of her regular customers, a man named Larry Brill, who claimed that Bagley gave him the ashes in 1976. According to Levine, Brill offered her the ashes, as he thought it was better suited to be inside her store. "I'm a huge Lake fand and wanted to make a real tribute to her," the store owner said. It's important to note that there's no way to prove that the ashes were Lake's. Some say that it's highly unlikely, but it made for a good story.