Hedy Lamarr, one of the most radiant stars in Hollywood history, had the misfortune of being too often mistreated by men. When she was 18, the German director of one of her earliest films used a special telephoto lens to film her in the nude and to capture her face in what publicity for the film leeringly touted as “the precise moment of rapture,” driving critics to view the movie as sheer pornography. On the boat to New York, fleeing Europe after Hitler’s rise to power, she met Louis B. Mayer, who was moved by her beauty and not much else, casting her for roles that required very few speaking lines. When World War II broke out, Lamarr volunteered to help, saying she was an inventor and had a few ideas that may be of use; instead, she was sent on a fundraising tour with a sailor named Eddie, who took the stage every evening asking for a kiss and prompting the audience to donate generously and put Lamarr in a giving mood.
None of it, however, deterred the brilliant actress, who was just as brilliant an engineer: Although she never received any formal scientific training, she soon learned that radio-controlled torpedoes could be easily jammed by the enemy, and so she took to a makeshift lab she created in her Los Angeles home and developed a frequency hopping signal. If you enjoy, say, Wi-Fi, GPS, or cellphones, you have Lamarr to thank.
If you’ve watched Bombshell, the recent documentary about Lamarr, you probably already know all that. If you didn’t, you will soon have a chance to get acquainted with the Jewish genius through the work of another Jewish genius, the inimitable Gal Gadot, who will reportedly portray Lamarr in an upcoming series on Showtime. According to Variety, the show will be written and produced by Sarah Treem, creator and showrunner of The Affair, with Warren Littlefield, executive producer of The Handmaid’s Tale and Fargo, also producing, as well as Gadot and her husband.
As you wait for the show to get made so you could binge on it again and again, here’s the Hedy Lamarr documentary, which is sadly Gal Gadot-free but very much worth your time: