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Patricia Van Cleeve Lake (June 18, 1923—October 3, 1993), known as Patricia Lake, was an American socialite, actress, and radio comedienne, who was suspected of being and, just before she died, claimed to be the illegitimate daughter of actress Marion Davies and publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst.
In the 1920s, there was speculation that Lake was the child of Hearst and Davies, who carried on a public affair despite Hearst being married to another woman. Many reference books state that Lake's parents were Marion Davies' sister Rose and her first husband, George Van Cleeve, but after her death in 1993, Lake's family claimed that she was actually the daughter of Davies and Hearst, born during a trip the pair took to France in 1923. The Lake family asserted that the newborn was given to Davies' sister, whose own child had died in infancy, and that the dead child's birth certificate was altered to support the deception. It was reported by CBS News that Hearst is alleged to have acknowledged to Lake on her wedding day that he was her father.
According to the Magazine Americana, published by The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture, George Van Cleve kidnapped Patricia in 1924 and went into hiding. Hearst's detectives located the pair after five years and the child was returned to Rose's custody, only to be returned to Van Cleve's custody after a court decision.
Patricia attended Lawlor Professional School in Hollywood, The Lake family asserts further that when Patricia lived with the Van Cleves, Hearst paid the bills and also sent her to schools in New York and Boston.
It was reported that Hearst and Davies took her on trips to Europe and spent time with her. Lake spent considerable time at Hearst's San Simeon estate, is included in most home movies of Hearst and Davies and accompanied them on many trips. Introduced as Marion Davies' niece, Lake socialized with such notables as Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson. Lake lived with Marion Davies for the major portion of her life and Hearst financially supported Lake all of her life. After Lake's marriage, Davies continued to support both Patricia and her husband Arthur. When Davies died in 1961, half of her 20 million dollar estate was left to Lake as an inheritance.
Her features, "suspiciously similar" to those of Hearst, did not go unnoticed, but Lake never made any public comment on the subject, even after the deaths of Hearst and Davies. Reportedly, just before Patricia Lake's death in 1993, she told her family her beliefs about the identities of her biological parents.
Patricia first met actor Arthur Lake when he was visiting at Marion Davies's beach house. She and Arthur were married on July 24, 1937, at Hearst's San Simeon estate, with both Hearst and Davies jointly giving her away at the marriage ceremony. Patricia and Arthur remained married for nearly 50 years until his death in January 1987. They had two children: Arthur Patrick Lake (Arthur Lake Jr.) (born March 1, 1943), and Marion Rose Lake (born October 6, 1944).
Both Patricia and her husband are interred in the same crypt as Marion Davies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Lake performed in theater during the late 1930s through the mid-1940s. When after 7 years Penny Singleton left the radio sitcom Blondie in the mid-1940s, Mrs. Lake, the former Patricia Van Cleeve, replaced her as the voice of Blondie Bumstead for the remaining five years of the show, opposite her real-life husband Arthur Lake, who played Blondie's spouse, Dagwood. In 1954, Lake also co-starred with her husband in an early television sitcom he created called Meet the Family.
Lake was selected by the Motion Picture Publicists Association to be one of the MPPA 'Baby Stars' of 1940, an award similar to the WAMPAS Baby Stars selections of 1922 through 1934.
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