The most beautiful woman in the world, who developed the technology that changed the world

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She was the most beautiful woman in the world. That’s what they claimed at the time. Her beauty was so dazzling that, as soon as she entered the room, all the conversations would stop and all the looks would focus on her. Her beauty was so glamorous that it soon paved the way for one of Hollywood’s greatest stars in the 1940s. But tragically, it has also become the greatest failure of her life. In the end, it was responsible for the fact that the film actress Hedy Lamarr ended her life in poverty and loneliness, chose to hide from the public eye, and felt that no one really knew her and that she never received the recognition she deserved

“Any girl can look glamorous, all she has to do is stand still and look stupid “Lamarr once said, and this is the opening quotation of the new documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. This beautiful actress was far from just another girl. On the days when she was at the height of her career, spending long hours each day on film sets, and admired by millions of men and women around the world, she chose to dedicate her nights to her unusual hobby: inventions. Lamar loved to extract surprising ideas from her mind, to invent inventions, and to think of ways to make this world a better place. Few people knew this aspect of her image.

“Bombshell: The Story of Hedy Lamarr”, seeks to do for Lamar what she herself did not have time to do in her life and to explain her life story and complexity, with the appreciation and recognition she had never received in her lifetime. Although she produced a brilliant invention – a clandestine media system on which key technologies such as WAP, Bluetooth and GPS are based – the US military treated it with demonstrative contempt and refused to buy its invention. Although she was surrounded by a particularly sharp brain, the media and the public preferred to focus on the sensational elements of her life: her participation in an erotic film in which she introduced the first female orgasm on the screen, her marriage, her breathtaking beauty, and the long line of plastic surgery.

“On the days when she was at the height of her career, spending long hours each day on film sets, and admired by millions of men and women around the world, she chose to dedicate her nights to her unusual hobby: inventions. Lamarr loved to extract surprising ideas from her mind, to invent technologies, and to think of ways to make this world a better place. Few people knew this aspect of her.”

How was she forgotten?
American director Alexandra Dean decided to give Lamarr back her lost honor. In an interview for “Hollywood Reporter” she said: “I was first told about it when I was working on a television series about inventors, and I was desperately looking for stories, I was always asked why no more women were interested in the program, and the answer was that we simply could not find any”

“When we asked those who did, why is that? They told me that they always got the feeling that they should not have chosen this field: it is very difficult for them to raise funds for their inventions, and then I told myself that there were a lot of women who were simply forgotten because no one recognized their work, so when they told me about Hedy, who invented something but did not get recognition, I started to examine exactly what she invented, and how she was forgotten. ”

Hedwig Eva Maria Kaisler, later Lamarr, was born in 1914 in Austria. From an early age she enjoyed exploring her surroundings, wanting to understand how things worked, and it was her father who encouraged her to creative thinking and scientific curiosity. The moment she became a girl, her life turned. Her beauty burst out, people reacted strongly, and Lamarr became interested in acting. She began to play in movies, and at the age of 16 she was internationally acclaimed for a rather scornful performance in Ecstasy, in which she not only starred in full nude but also participated in an erotic scene that apparently first brought a female orgasm to the screen. The pope came out against the film, Hitler banned its screening (partly because she was Jewish), but Lamarr celebrated her success. Three years later she had already married a wealthy Austrian industrialist.

She thought his airplane wings were too square, went out and bought some books about birds and fish, and began to learn the structure of the fastest fish and birds. With its knowledge, it has drawn new, aerodynamic wings that could make Hughes’ planes faster. He was enthusiastic, made the necessary changes in his planes, while she went on to other inventions. Among other things, for example, she invented a water-soluble cola capsule that was supposed to allow every soldier or worker to prepare a cup of cola for him even if he did not have an official bottle of liquor in the area.

At the age of 23  in her golden cage, she ran to London and met Louis B. Mayer, one of the founders of MGM, who came looking for talent to bring new blood to his Hollywood studio. He offered her $125 a week if she came to work for him, she eventually got four times her salary, agreed to adopt the name “Lamarr” offered by his wife, and after her first Hollywood movie, “Algiers,” she became a star. She starred on the covers of all the magazines considered to be the object of admiration for both men and women, and began to appear in the movies alongside stars like, Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and James Stewart.

She married six times, ran quite a few novels (among other things, she claims, with John F. Kennedy before he was appointed president), and was one of MGM’s biggest stars alongside Lucille Ball, and Katharine Hepburn. A contract with a Hollywood studio in those days was rather draconian, requiring a lot of work hours and intensive days of filming, causing many of them to become addicted to stimulants to work. Lamarr too fell into this trap. There was a certain comfort when she ran a relationship with Howard Hughes, a film pilot, and businessman who wanted to design the world’s fastest airplanes. Lamarr was intrigued, Hughes invited her to visit his factories and talk to the engineers, and the inventor who was hiding in the beautiful star finally raised her head.

She thought his airplane wings were too square, went out and bought some books about birds and fish, and began to learn the structure of the fastest fish and birds. With its knowledge, it has drawn new, aerodynamic wings that could make Hughes’ planes faster. He was enthusiastic, made the necessary changes in his planes, while she went on to other inventions. Among other things, for example, she invented a water-soluble cola capsule that was supposed to allow every soldier or worker to prepare a cup of cola for him even if he did not have an official bottle of liquor in the area.

An idea worth $30 billion
In those days, Lamarr’s mother fled from the Nazi occupation, arrived in London and planned to cross the Atlantic to be reunited with her daughter. The papers made it clear to Lamarr that this journey was very dangerous; The German navy intercepted quite a number of Allied ships, and many immigrants died in the Atlantic waters. Lamarr in response made the unthinkable: she sat with her partner in those days, the musician George Antheil, and together they devised technology to improve the performance of the Allied torpedo. The couple, both with no scientific education and dropping out of high school at the age of 16, devised a radio-guided torpedo whose frequencies are constantly changing, thus enabling the encryption of this communication and preventing the enemy from intercepting it. no less.

“I got the idea for this invention when I wanted to think how to change the balance of power so that the British would not suffer inferiority (as opposed to the Germans), I thought a radio-driven torpedo could do that,” Lamar later explained in an interview. Antheil wrote in her book that she was uncomfortable sitting in Hollywood and making a lot of money while the world was in such a brutal war. “All she wants is to stay at home all day and invent inventions, it has a wonderful combination of childish naivety and flashes of genius,” he wrote of Lamarr. Together, the two spent long nights formulating the invention, aided by the mechanical knowledge that Antheil had with his familiarity with piano pianos, and finally produced a technology that was no less brilliant.

They gave their invention to the Navy, understanding that if used, they would be rewarded financially, but the army preferred to dismiss the invention placed on their table by the most beautiful woman in the world. They ignored her, buried her in their safes, did not use her to gain supremacy on the battlefield, and prevented Lamarr from gaining recognition for her impressive scientific ability. Today, they point toward the end of the documentary, with the invention at the heart of the world’s major communications technologies, estimated at $30 billion.

“It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that if she were not such a beautiful actress, and if she did not have a didactic car, they would probably take her more seriously,” says Dean. “I think that the army, in this case, was not visionary enough, could not see long-term, because in those days it had a very basic torpedo, It was possible that they simply could not understand this technology then, but I have no doubt that he was also involved in sexism, and the Navy did enjoy press releases about its invention because it was surprising and intriguing, But when it was time to take this innovation seriously, they did not show much interest in it and were not treated as wild Countries “.

“I got the idea for this invention when I wanted to think how to change the balance of power so that the British would not suffer inferiority (as opposed to the Germans), I thought a radio-driven torpedo could do that”

The US military did eventually use this technology to encrypt radio communications, but it only happened many years later. This happened in the 1960s, when President Kennedy ordered ships to be launched during the Cuban missile crisis and when the US Army launched unmanned aerial vehicles for espionage purposes in Vietnam. Lamarr, who had heard about it by chance and wanted to receive the appropriate financial compensation, unfortunately, discovered that her patent had expired and therefore was not entitled to any compensation.

Rapid deterioration
Her Hollywood career had its ups and downs, but one of her highlights was in 1949 when she starred in Samson and Delilah, the biggest hit of the decade after Gone With the Wind. However, Lamarr’s entrepreneurial spark and her refusal to adapt to what others expected of her were also reflected in her Hollywood career: she became one of the first women to dare to make and produce films in the American film industry. However, she was not satisfied, and the men who ran Hollywood were not happy to cooperate with her. She invested all her money in the production of Loves of Three Queens in 1954, but collapsed economically after she did not find a company that would agree to distribute the film in the United States.

From here the deterioration was rapid. She suffered a nervous breakdown, began treatment for a dubious doctor who made her addicted to drugs, was arrested after stealing in a shop, and fell victim to ghost writers who convinced her to write her autobiography but made the book sensational and shallow, never mentioning the inventions and innovations. And no less serious, as someone who for years had become accustomed to her appearance being responsible for all her successes, in her 40s began a long series of plastic surgeries that eventually corrupted her face. Lamarr stopped appearing in public, did not leave her house, and refused to meet even her family.

In 1997, when what she had hoped for all her life happened and the world was finally ready to recognize her mental abilities, it was too late for her. When her son informed her that the Army and Lockheed Martin wanted to award her for her breakthrough invention to skip radio frequencies, Lamarr made it clear to him that she did not intend to attend the ceremony. She did not want to be seen in public and she persisted until the day she died, in January 2000.

However, Lammar’s lack of appreciation as an inventor is not a matter that belongs to the previous millennium and is already over, Dean explains. “It’s happening today in Silicon Valley, and if Lamarr was alive today, she would have encountered exactly the same problem, and she was probably one of those young, innovative and talented women who came up with ideas that could change the world. She would find herself standing before a group of men who, in the same way they laughed at her when she invented her torpedo, would laugh at her today, and they would certainly try to hit on her because of her beauty.

“This is the reaction that many women still receive her about their inventions, and what happened Hedy Lamarr still happening to a great many women today. This to me is one reason why her story is still important and relevant.”

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Official Site

 

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