What do the most ravishingly beautiful actress of the 1930s and 40s and the inventor whose concepts were the basis of cell phone and bluetooth technology have in common? They are both Hedy Lamarr, the glamour icon whose ravishing beauty was the inspiration for Snow White and Cat Woman and a technological trailblazer who perfected a radio system to throw Nazi torpedoes off course during WWII.
The newly released documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story brings to light the story of an unusual and accomplished woman, spurned as too beautiful to be smart, but a role model to this day.
Weaving interviews and clips with never-before-heard audio tapes of Hedy speaking on the record about her incredible life—from her beginnings as an Austrian Jewish emigre to her scandalous nude scene in the 1933 film Ecstasy to her glittering Hollywood life to her ground-breaking, but completely uncredited inventions to her latter years when she became a recluse, impoverished and almost forgotten.
During the World War II, Lamarr collaborated with composer George Antheil in designing a frequency-hopping device for steering antisubmarine torpedoes. This early device used an automatic piano cylinder to swap a signal between different frequencies, with the ultimate purpose of concealing the remote-controlled torpedoes from hostile radars. The couple took a patent but never received any credit or money for it and the US Navy did not take the invention seriously. According to the documentary, she was told that it would be better if she sold war bonds than to develop inventions. However, her invention paved the way for some of today’s wireless technologies.
The documentary is directed by Alexandra Dean, an award-winning journalist and producer, while one of the executive producers is actress Susan Sarandon.