Actress and Inventor Hedy Lamarr Headed 'American Masters'

Directed by Alexandra Dean and executive produced by Susan Sarandon, “Hedy: The Untold Story of Actress and Inventor Hedy Lamarr,” will premiere on the PBS documentary series “American Masters,” from Thirteen Productions / WNET New York.

Lamarr, who rose to prominence after appearing nude in the 1933 Czech film “Ecstasy,” fled her husband, a Nazi collaborator, before landing a contract with MGM, and bedded everyone from Howard Hughes to Spencer Tracy, would be 101 today. (Check out the great Google doodle celebrating the occasion.) Less well known is her work as an inventor during World War II, when she devoted her nights to designing Allied weapons and developing a wireless form of communication called “frequency hopping” with avant-garde composer George Antheil—an invention that paved the way for the creation of wireless phones, Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi.

With “Hedy,” Dean, Sarandon, and others involved in the project hope to reintroduce Lamarr, who died in 2000, to the American public. Lamarr’s films have not exactly entered the canon—the best-known may be a 1942 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “Tortilla Flat,” in which Lamarr starred with Spencer Tracy—but she was so much more than a bombshell. “Hedy” promises to remind us that Lamarr’s fascinating life took place only partly on screen.

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