A film about her life – Bombshell – has gone on general release in the UK today but my feeling is it raises more questions than it answers.
Lamarr co-invented a technology called frequency hopping with composer George Antheil as part of their effort to prevent German u-boats devastating Atlantic traffic. They donated it to the US Navy which couldn't see its potential and told Lamarr to get on her bike.
Antheil sure was a crazy guy - as far as we can tell - not her lover but understood the piano roll all too well. Which was the basis of their anti-torpedo invention, dissed at first.
In fact, until her death in 2000, Lamarr didn't get a penny from her invention, even though the US started implementing their ideas in the 1950s and 1960s.
The film does demonstrate that being a Hollywood star in the 1930s and 1940s was certainly no picnic, and claims that while Lamarr was enduring the tough schedule imposed by her studio, including methampetamine and barbs, she could work day and night but she continued to work on inventing stuff. She helped Howard Hughes design aircraft with better designed wings based, so she claimed, on the way some birds and some fish had evolved efficient streamlined ways of flying and swimming faster.
She was a Jew and her first marriage was to a Jewish Austrian who supplied ammunition to both Mussolini and Herr Hitler. Hitler refused to have anything to do with her because she was Jewish and appeared naked in an Austrian film called Ecstasy. Mussolini tipped up though. Goodness knows what happened to her first hubbie after the Eastern Reich was borged by the Nazis.
She escaped from the terrors of the Third Reich by drugging her maid - according to the film - and escaping on a pushbike eventually ending up in London and then America. Hitler didn't like her – not because of the fact she was a Jew – but because she had taken her clothes off in her Austrian debut film, Ecstasy. Hitler banned the film. The USA didn't like her invention at first and decided she should sell war bonds rather than use her intelligence.
I found the film rather shallow. Lamarr is now a heroine of the interweb but Bombshell concentrates on her Hollywood career – complete with snaps of her beautiful face and body – according to a heap of very rich men who, including Howard Hughes, had rumpy-pumpy with her.
This film is still capitalising on her physical appearance rather than her wit and wisdom. That must have been a nightmare for the woman, described by the USA as an alien. I give this film one star for lacking very little insight into the woman.
She is now acclaimed as the originator of a $30 billion dollar industry. But, really, she got effed over by Hollywood and is still being effed over by the film industry, again and again and again.
[Pic courtesy of Wikipedia, with permission.]