I Wasn’t a Sex Symbol; I Was a Sex Zombie

Veronica Lake? Judy Klemesrud? Walter Clemons? Anonymous? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A pulchritudinous movie star of the golden age of Hollywood supposedly said:

I wasn’t a sex symbol; I was a sex zombie.

Is this an authentic quotation? If someone did deliver this line would you please tell me who it was?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in “The New York Times” in March 1971. Journalist Judy Klemesrud interviewed actress Veronica Lake and asked about her sex symbol status. Boldface added to excerpts By QI: 1

Miss Lake, dressed primly in a two-tone green suede suits cringed when the term “sex symbol” was mentioned. She prefers “sex-zombie,” which a book critic recently used in referring to her.

“That really names me properly,” she said. “I was laughing at everybody in all of my portraits. I never took that stuff seriously. I will have one of the cleanest obits of any actress.”

Thus, an unnamed book critic applied the phrase “sex zombie” to Lake, and she thought that it was appropriate. Perhaps she felt that the publicity machine of Hollywood had constructed an artificial and deadening role for her to play.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Wasn’t a Sex Symbol; I Was a Sex Zombie


  1. 1971 March 10, New York Times, For Veronica Lake, the Past Is Something to Write About by Judy Klemesrud, Quote Page 38, New York. (ProQuest)