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“Someone should write a book about my life. The only problem is that no one would believe it.”   -Hedy Lamarr 

In 1942, the Viennese-born silver screen star Hedy Lamarr was being marketed by MGM as “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” She was also granted a patent for a device that would use a “Secret Communications System” to enable a jam-proof, radio-guided torpedo. If developed, the device would have helped to defeat the German U-boats and—so she believed—changed the course of history.

The bare facts of Hedy’s accomplishment can initially strike the most enlightened among us, even the committed feminists, as a sort of comical miracle. They evoke clashing social and psychological forces that produce disorientation, if not discomfort. Some regard Hedy as a scientific genius born before her time. Today, they contend, she would have whizzed through MIT and thrived; doubters smirk, and contend that the story is an urban myth.  

On the eve of the Anschluss, Hedy, a Jew, escaped from her Austrian husband, Fritz Mandl, a munitions magnate and Nazi sympathizer. Her sensational rise to Hollywood stardom and the Inventors Hall of Fame is indeed more improbable than some of her movies. The story should attract a wide audience, but in Secret Intelligence: Decoding Hedy Lamarr, the camera turns away from our heroine to include that audience. The goal is to encourage the viewer to ask why it is that the very idea that a bombshell could invent a better bomb provokes in them reactions that range from unbridled adulation to sneering incredulity.


Lisa is the writer, producer, and director of Secret Intelligence: Decoding Hedy Lamarr (in post-production).


"The Starlet and the Inventor"