Veronica Lake's over-the-eye blond tresses and fragile tough-girl looks made her a major box-office attraction and pinup girl of the World War II years.
Lake, whose pinup pictures, unlike most of the genre, usually showed her from the shoulders up, flared like a comet among the Hollywood stars of the '40s and faded almost overnight when the decade ended.
According to Hollywood legend, the famous hairdo was an accident. In rehearsal for her first big role in 1941, her long blond hair fell down over her right eye. It was so effective it became her trademark and a national fad.
After falling from stardom in such memorable film as "This Gun for Hire" and "I Wanted Wings" to jobs as a factory worker and cocktail waitress, she rose again to flickering successes on the English stage.
A ghost-written autobiography, published in 1970, spoke with startling frankness about the "Hollywood star machine" that she said "ground me out like a production on an assembly line," and of post Hollywood days of hard drinking and obscurity in less than star-caliber hotels and bars.
When Lake visited the Paramount lot with a Times reporter in 1971 to promote her autobiography, she burst into tears when she saw how it had changed.
"God, my knees feel weak," she said. "Tom Wolfe was right. You can't go home again.
"I'm out of it now — well out of it. I knew back then I wasn't cut out for all the con that goes along with working here."