Friday, January 11, 2008

Hedy Lamarr

Airhead actresses and singers?


The sexiest thing about Hedy Lamarr was her brains.

Hedy was born in Austria. At age 17 - in the 1933 Czech film Ecstasy - she appeared in a steamy love scene, and swam nude in a 10 minute onscreen sequence. Ecstasy was banned in America for being indecent.

At 19, her parents gave her into an arranged marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. She attended hundreds of parties as his trophy wife, mingling many times with Hitler and Mussolini, and lived in the Salzberg castle where The Sound of Music was later filmed.

Hedy's husband was a real life control freak, and she fled him in dramatic fashions. In her first attempt, with her husband chasing her, she hid in a brothel. In desperation, with her husband stalking the halls of the brothel, she actually serviced a customer during her attempt to hide from her husband. In a later, successful escape, Hedy hired a maid who looked like her. She drugged the maid, donned her uniform, exited by the service entrance, and made her way to London. In some versions of this story, she escaped during a party, taking most of her jewels with her. Hedy later boarded a ship for America, and Louis B. Mayer signed her to a studio contract while en route to America, and still aboard ship.

While in America, Hedy co-invented a system of switching frequencies which is still used by the U.S. military to control some missiles. It's principles are also used in wireless internet technology, and in many cellphones. She got the idea while playing piano duets with her co-inventor: composer George Antheil. She would follow Antheil on the piano as he - switching from key to key and rhythm to rhythm - attempted both to throw her off, and to create interesting interplay.

Biographer Patrick Agan




Anonymous said...

"she actually serviced a customer during her attempt to hide from her husband."

by handing him a drink? fixing his shirt collar?

here's to the drama queen and her dramatic legends.

gcotharn said...

Here's to her! I'll raise a glass. If the story was a lie, I can still admire the panache. :)

Anonymous said...

Hedy Lamarr - getting heady in a brothel ... oooooh yeaaaaa!

Sir Uptishus said...

You lost me at "The sexiest thing about Hedy Lamarr was her brains." Only a man or a lesbian can say what is sexy in a woman, you have no basis for your assessment. You are clearly not the former and apparently not the latter (though I admit I could be mistaken).

Anonymous said...

Lamarr is an icon in the geek/ tech community. Her ideas continue to influence technology, and in fact make our tech-heavy world possible. Great job paying her homage! Beautiful and super intelligent, is indeed the sexiest.