While she’s best known as one of the most glamorous women from the glamorous era of classic Hollywood, a new documentary does a deep dive into the non-movie accomplishments of Hedy Lamarr.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story covers her films to be sure, but it’s her contribution to science that will raise eyebrows.
Lamarr gained prominence for a nude scene in a 1933 European film titled Ecstasy. Her first marriage to Friedrich Mandl, a noted Austrian arms manufacturer ended when she fled not just the country but also the continent to come act for Mayer’s MGM studio. Married six times, Lamarr was wed to Houston oilman Howard Lee in the 1950s. (Lee was also married to Gene Tierney).
Movies from Algiers (1938) to White Cargo (1942) to The Strange Woman (1946) to Samson and Delilah (the second highest grossing film of the 1940s) are covered. There’s also a delicious clip from a 1969 appearance on The Merv Griffin Show where she trades quips with Woody Allen.
Contributing to the war effort in the early 1940s, Lamarr teamed up with jazz pianist George Antheil to patent a device for frequency hopping. Antheil had performed a concert in the ‘20s where he synchronized several player pianos in unison.
Modern uses of this technology can be found in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi reception. Lamarr, who died in 2000 at age of 85, never saw a dime of royalties for this invention. If she had, it would be worth billions.