“Hollywood is a place where folks are often recognized more for their looks than their talent – and actress Hedy Lamarr was no exception. But it’s what she invented in her spare time – to help end that war – that has history turning a kinder eye, linking her to a bombshell of a whole different sort. Lee Cowan reports: She possessed the kind of beauty that was haunting – an almost smoldering sensuality, with an exotic accent to match.
Even her name – Hedy Lamarr – sounded dark and mysterious. But although she shared the screen with Hollywood legends like Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Jimmy Stewart, people rarely remember Hedy’s talent.
So what got a science writer interested in a half-forgotten celebrity? Quite simply, Hedy’s other side – the intellectual side – and had it turned out, it might have been the blueprint for success far beyond Hollywood.
To the untrained eye the drawing is just a maze of wires and switches. But to Richard Rhodes, it was genius. What surprised him most, he told Cowan, was “the sheer inventiveness of the invention.”
It was Hedy’s idea for a radio-controlled torpedo, guided by a signal that couldn’t be intercepted – a technology she called “frequency hopping.”
Most remember only her face – a regret she carried with her to her grave.
“The boys abroad, during the Second World War, voted her the most desirable, beautiful actress or pinup that they could possibly see,” said writer Richard Rhodes. “So she had a great deal of fame and fortune, but not that inner satisfaction that she wanted in life.”
Rhodes is an author best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning work on the making of the atomic bomb – but his most recent book about Hedy Lamarr is just as explosive. “ Read the whole article, I promise it is fascinating! . To wet your appetite a bit more… ”Most of Hedy’s inventions – including a better Kleenex box and a new traffic signal – never really went anywhere. But her idea for that torpedo got a patent.”
Her story is an amazing: one of wealth, marriages, movies, brains and brilliance. Who knew! Thanks to CBS Sunday Morning for point all this out to me!