Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

This year, to celebrate International Women’s Day, I went to a viewing of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story at the Glasgow Film Theatre. I have to admit to knowing very little about Hedy Lamarr but was excited to celebrating International Women’s Day by learning about her life and accomplishments.

hedy lamarr
Lamarr in Ziegfeld Girl, 1941

Hedy Lamarr had exceptional beauty, a captivating presence and a tumultuous Hollywood career. She was considered to be one of Hollywood greatest beauties and was renowned for simulating the first on-screen orgasm yet her contributions to science were vastly overlooked for the majority of her life. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, directed by Alexandra Dean, features friends; family; admirers and journalist and their accounts of this enigmatic that the world tried to ignore.

Hedy Lamarr is the co-creator of the frequency jumping systems for radio controlled torpedoes, which has formed the basis for all our communications systems including mobiles, Wi-Fi and GPS. Lamarr offered her patented invention to the US Navy during WWII, who in turn essentially told her she would be more useful as a pin-up. The US Navy would later use her invention during the Cuban Missile Crisis, once the patent had run out (and they didn’t have to pay her). She was largely uncredited until an interview in the late 90s, which is the basis of this documentary.

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Lamarr’s patent was developed with the American composer George Antheil. Photograph: USPTO

Bombshell does not create a rose-coloured view of Lamarr, it’s refreshingly honest about her struggles, downfalls and faults, as well as her accomplishments.

For the majority of her life, Lamarr was dismissed by scientists and the military for being a woman and an actress. She was dismissed by Hollywood for wanting to do things her own way, being labelled difficult. She was only seen for her face, and once her beauty began to fade she was treated so cruelly by the world that once adored her, that she became a recluse.

A point that stuck with me is her daughter recalling that her mother was ahead of her time and a feminist, though no one credits her for that. She was and she should be acknowledged as the feminist icon, she is.

This documentary delves into all aspects of Lammar’s life, and I almost feel ashamed for not knowing more about this incredible woman.

I urge everyone to go see Bombshell or take the time to learn more about Hedy Lamarr.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is out in the UK on Friday 9th March.

 

 

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