By Megan Bianco
It feels crazy to associate someone as iconic and regarded as Hedy Lamarr with the word “underrated,” but she has been in many ways. For decades, film fans have viewed her as one of the most beautiful and glamorous movie stars in Hollywood history—which she is, naturally. But at home, she was also very creative and interested in science through inventions. Alexandra Dean’s recent documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story sheds some light on the remarkable history and life of the film legend.
Born as Hedwig Kiesler in Vienna, Austria, Hedy spent her teens and early 20s acting in local Austrian films, most infamously the softcore-dirty flick Ecstasy (1933). By the time she was 23, L.B Mayer got her a contract with MGM, changed her name to Hedy Lamarr and had her first Hollywood role in Algiers (1938) to positive reception. Her hit films in the 1940s would include Boom Town (1940) and Ziegfeld Girl (1941).
Out of the limelight, Hedy spent most of her time inventing things like her own carbonated drink and, most notably, a frequency-hopping signal.
Dean’s documentary fortunately features a lot of commentary by Lamarr’s own children and friends, as well as noted historians like Peter Bogdanovich and Robert Osborne. Bombshell not only covers the good parts of her career, like her fascinating fling with Howard Hughes or how her frequency invention paved the way for modern WiFi, but also her unhappy marriages and unfortunate methamphetamine addiction. Bombshell will hopefully not only be seen as a love letter to its subject, but also help keep Lamarr’s legacy as an inventor alive.