Victoria Hornstein was born in New York City on November 1, 1911, a date that gave her great delight because it was five 1’s together: 11-1-11. She grew up in the New Jersey countryside where she became a good swimmer and learned to ride horseback. When she later moved to Manhattan, a favorite pastime was riding in Central Park.
Vickie was a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and spent a season at Stratford-On-Avon in England. Upon her return to New York City, she appeared in a number of stage productions, including Leslie Howard’s “Hamlet”. Not long after her arrival in Los Angeles in 1943, “Life With Father” stars Louis Calhern and Dorothy Gish introduced her to Jack Oakie at The Players Restaurant in Hollywood. Mrs. Oakie later reminisced, “I stopped breathing when I met him, and I haven’t started breathing since! He was a wonderful man to live with, and a wonderful husband!”
Victoria enjoyed a feature film career as a versatile character actress. She is best remembered for her roles in “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (1947) and “Harvey” (1950).
Shortly after marrying Jack in 1950, Mrs. Oakie opted to retire to the domesticities of Oakridge where running the household and helping to hand-water nearly ten acres of lawn and a fruit orchard occupied much of her day. Sundays were party time for the Hollywood crowd with tennis, swimming and screenings of Oakie films.
After Jack’s death in 1978, Victoria drew all the blinds and tenaciously guarded the gates of Oakridge to keep real estate agents and the curious at bay. She turned down lucrative offers to purchase the property from the neighboring automotive dealership and The Home Depot, preferring to donate Oakridge to the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 2000 to endow the first Chair in Comedy in her late husband’s name.
In addition to writing several books in tribute to her beloved Jack, Victoria established the annual “Jack Oakie Lecture on Comedy in Film” at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1981. In 1989, the Charitable Foundation bearing both their names was formed to partner with colleges and universities around the country to provide scholarships, lectures and screenings for comedy students in theater, film and television.
The residents of Los Angeles owe a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Oakie for her efforts to have Oakridge declared City Historic-Cultural Monument #484 in 1990. Her foresight ensured that the Paul Williams designed residence and grounds would survive in tribute to not only a legendary architect and a great comedian but also to a San Fernando Valley ranch culture that has long since disappeared.
Victoria Horne Oakie joined her beloved Jack on October 10, 2003 at the age of 91.