Guest Author - Amber Grey
It was a simple hairline that dramatically affected one person's career and that person was Veronica Lake. Early in her career, when she was still acquiring small roles, director John Farrow noticed how her hair always seemed to fall naturally in front of her right eye, which created an air of mystery.
But it didn't become her signature until she was taking publicity stills for a film and a stray hair fell across the right side of her face. The hairstyle was used in her first major role in "I Wanted Wings" (1941) and it became her breakthrough role with her "peekaboo" hairstyle being highly imitated by women across America.
It was such a popular hairstyle that Paramount Pictures released a series of films in support of America's war effort titled, "Safety Styles." It starred Veronica as she sports hairstyles that were safe and practical for women working in war industry factories. In surviving publicity stills, Veronica also showed the consequences of unruly hair around machinery. Ouch!
Although her fashion choices were not one for the history books, there was an interesting story concerning "Sullivan's Travels" (1941) in which Veronica was cast in her first starring role as "The Girl."
When she was cast, Veronica was already six months pregnant. But because she didn't want to jeopardize her part in the film, she kept the pregnancy hush-hush until she arrived on set where it could not be hidden any longer. In her autobiography, "Veronica: The Autobiography of Veronica Lake" Veronica wrote that director/writer Preston Sturges was so outraged, "...it took physical restraint to keep him from boiling over at me." A lookalike double was immediately hired for the stunts required by her character and Sturges employed Academy Award winning costume designer Edith Head, to conceal the tell-tale bump on screen.
A tidbit that was truly remarkable about Veronica Lake, came from reading "The Dress Doctor" by Edith head. In it, Head described Veronica as someone, who when she wasn't working, would wear her blonde locks in a hairnet and wore tweed, bulky sweaters and flat-heeled shoes. The bombshell was virtually unrecognizable on the streets but when Ms. Head dressed her, it was a transformation that Veronica always enjoyed: "Veronica got a kick out of the transformation. 'Pardon me while I put on my other head,' she'd say. We'd created a personality that didn't exist…It was an experiment that proved what clothes could do. Once Veronica was through with work, changed into her own clothes and went out into the world, no one recognized her, ever.’"
So popular was Veronica's hairdo, that her silhouette was used on the poster for "Sullivan's Travels" (1941) in order to promote it. But soon after, Veronica made the career-changing decision to dramatically cut her hair in support of the war effort. In one of her last films for Paramount, "The Blue Dahlia (1946), Veronica's hair is noticeably shorter. In 1948, Paramount did not renew her contract.
Afterwards, Veronica made appearances on tv shows and on stage but severely breaking her ankle, she couldn't continue her career as an actress. It was not until 1972 when she published her autobiography, Veronica was temporarily back in the spotlight. When she reflected on her career, she said, "I never did cheesecake; I just did my hair."