jakeem

PBS airs "Bombshell" -- a documentary about Hedy Lamarr

52 posts in this topic

I had such a crush on Hedy when I was a kid.
Who would have guessed that such beauty and brains could co-exist in such an amazing little package!
I was aware that Hedy had purportedly been quite the unsung inventor during WW2.
Great to see that someone today is finally making an effort to give Hedy some long over-do and well deserved kudos. :D

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3 hours ago, rosebette said:

Does one need an advanced degree to be capable of understanding technical or mechanical concepts or creating inventions?  Thomas Edison didn't have an advanced degree either.  I happen to teach English at an institution that has an enormous engineering department.  I have students who were already building their own computers in high school.  My husband is a software engineer who is now in his 50s.  He dropped out of college to work on computers because he liked them and picked up a few things in a work study job.  His current partner in business never finished college and does most of the R&D for the company.   If Hedy was a male working with a male collaborator, would she be accused of sleeping with him or getting credit for someone else's ideas?  

In answer to your first question - it depends. Edison, early on, was not working on inventions that required that much in depth mathematical analysis. One of the first things Edison did when he opened his lab was hire some mathematicians. " I have students who were already building their own computers in high school.  My husband is a software engineer who is now in his 50s." You don't need advanced mathematical concepts to build your own computer. By high school you have enough technical education to do this task if you want to. I'm not sure what your husband being a software engineer in his 50's has anything to do with this argument. Working on computers and "picking up some things in a work study job" is different than defining a new branch of telecommunications. Early in my career I did some digital design myself, and it is easy to pick up by reading books yourself, although I had an electrical engineering degree. The same is true with most programming languages/tools.

"If Hedy was a male working with a male collaborator, would she be accused of sleeping with him or getting credit for someone else's ideas?" - My doubts about Hedy coming up with spread spectrum technology has nothing to do with her being a woman and everything to do with her lack of advanced mathematical and engineering training which you would need in order to do so. For the record, I am a woman, so I know how hard a male dominated field can be to break into, BUT you still need some education or background in the mathematics of the technology in order to participate. Oh, and being a lifelong very ugly woman, I can't imagine me offering to sleep with someone being considered anything but a horrifying threat at any point in my adult life, forget about it being used as currency. It doesn't even enter into why I am skeptical of this entire thing.

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I just finished watching the American Masters documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,
which aired last night (Thursday, 5/18/2018) on PBS, at pbs.org (available for "free" viewing until 06/15/18).

http://www.pbs.org/video/bombshell-the-hedy-lamarr-story-xxkyoj/

I found the documentary to be tragically beautiful, with much insight into who and what Hedy was beneath the screen facade. And revealing about who and what "we" (the users of her legacy) are. 
Since everything regarding her inventions was presented and well documented I believe that the veracity that Hedy actually invented what she invented to be beyond reproach.
Hedy appears to have possessed one of those indescribably rare and brilliant minds capable of intrinsically "connecting the dots" and able to make connections that appear to elude most (otherwise highly intelligent) persons. In the same vein perhaps as Nikola Tesla (another brilliant albeit eccentric genius) who was likewise a poor business person, and whom likewise died in relative impoverished obscurity, over shadowed by those that attempted to take credit for his work,.... work, mind you, that like Hedy's has applications which affects our everyday life today.
For doubter's and skeptics that would seemingly prefer to "believe" it impossible for someone like Hedy Lamarr to have been "gifted" with such genius... I invite you to watch the documentary in it's entirety, presented with faults and all, the portrait of a beautiful, gifted, and tragic savant, who possessed such innate scientific abilities that persons today must marvel at the education they are required to barely grasp the concept of what was so easily conceptualized within her wonderful mind, decades before they were even conceived.

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34 minutes ago, calvinnme said:

In answer to your first question - it depends. Edison, early on, was not working on inventions that required that much in depth mathematical analysis. One of the first things Edison did when he opened his lab was hire some mathematicians. " I have students who were already building their own computers in high school.  My husband is a software engineer who is now in his 50s." You don't need advanced mathematical concepts to build your own computer. By high school you have enough technical education to do this task if you want to. I'm not sure what your husband being a software engineer in his 50's has anything to do with this argument. Working on computers and "picking up some things in a work study job" is different than defining a new branch of telecommunications. Early in my career I did some digital design myself, and it is easy to pick up by reading books yourself, although I had an electrical engineering degree. The same is true with most programming languages/tools.

"If Hedy was a male working with a male collaborator, would she be accused of sleeping with him or getting credit for someone else's ideas?" - My doubts about Hedy coming up with spread spectrum technology has nothing to do with her being a woman and everything to do with her lack of advanced mathematical and engineering training which you would need in order to do so. For the record, I am a woman, so I know how hard a male dominated field can be to break into, BUT you still need some education or background in the mathematics of the technology in order to participate. Oh, and being a lifelong very ugly woman, I can't imagine me offering to sleep with someone being considered anything but a horrifying threat at any point in my adult life, forget about it being used as currency. It doesn't even enter into why I am skeptical of this entire thing.

Great post. I like how you phrased things, especially the second paragraph.

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8 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

All women should always have enough money to leave and get away from an unpleasant or even a dangerous situation.

I also believe that even if a woman is happily married, she should never allow herself to become dependent on her husband (emotionally, financially, socially, etc.). You never know when your whole life could change and you need to be able to stand on your own two feet.

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14 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

I also believe that even if a woman is happily married, she should never allow herself to become dependent on her husband (emotionally, financially, socially, etc.). You never know when your whole life could change and you need to be able to stand on your own two feet.

This is such an astute statement.

I can't tell you how many women I have seen in my mother's generation who were married,  usually staying at home and raising children.

After having given up  a  paying job and becoming dependent upon the husband's honesty and integrity in terms of finances-- they were often sorely surprised and disappointed when the husband died or there was a divorce.

 

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4 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I honestly don't think Hedy had the knowledge to invent what she is credited with inventing. My own personal feeling about it. Notice I am not even getting into her shoplifting. Though I must say I've never heard of a legitimate inventor caught stealing panties and lipstick from a Los Angeles department store.

Yes but there are shoplifters, especially older shoplifters, who often can afford to buy the stuff they steal and it becomes a disease/compulsion like gambling.  In other words, maybe there were some mental health issues with Hedy when that incident happened.

It never occurred to me that the story about Hedy's inventions wasn't true.  I just always assumed it was true and that she was brainy and beautiful.

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On 5/18/2018 at 9:59 PM, GGGGerald said:

I think there are people who just can't give a pretty woman credit. Even if that was true, if she motivated or influenced him or even was his muse. She still would have had a hand in the invention. I'd rather go with what is known until new facts occur. 

If she was Hank Lamarr, that argument would never have occurred.

It was my understanding that she had a minor role in the development of the technology, suggesting a music-related pattern. She was probably smart enough to understand everything and had a minor part, but not the inventor or co-inventor...although I could hardly say that's more than second or third-hand information.

It would be lovely if such a beautiful and talented actress were indeed a genius, although looks and fame do tend to have a negative impact on one's intellectual abilities, the person who can rise above and overcome those limitations being the exception rather than the rule. Regardless, even a minor role in such a historical event would be an amazing one.  :)

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By the way I admit to being a shallow person. I always admired Hedy Lamarr for her beauty, not her brains. :)

She was the first woman I ever watched in a movie when I was a teenager and thought, wow this woman must be super old or dead by now but holy smokes she was hot back in the day.

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Odd, when I hear a bio called "Bombshell" my first thought was Jean Harlow..guess I watch more old films than the PBS folks...

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37 minutes ago, shutoo said:

Odd, when I hear a bio called "Bombshell" my first thought was Jean Harlow..guess I watch more old films than the PBS folks...

Agree. The word "bombshell" conjures up images of Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth or Marilyn Monroe. Not Hedy Lamarr.

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I just watched this today and was struck by how similar this was to the Garbo documentary. Both longing for their European homes, hiding from public view later in their lives in New York apartments. 

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18 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I honestly don't think Hedy had the knowledge to invent what she is credited with inventing. My own personal feeling about it. Notice I am not even getting into her shoplifting. Though I must say I've never heard of a legitimate inventor caught stealing panties and lipstick from a Los Angeles department store.

No, but several inventors and geniuses may have had some other idiosyncracies.  As I recall, Howard Hughes had quite a few.   These incidents also happened much later, and mental illness may have been involved.

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12 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Agree. The word "bombshell" conjures up images of Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth or Marilyn Monroe. Not Hedy Lamarr.

and of course, Harlow's film Bombshell, which mirrors some of the star's real life (although it was supposedly based on Clara Bow..)  

I'm not sure what I'd call a Lamarr bio...'Frequency hopping out of the Casbah' ? ?

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Reading the posts in this thread reminds me of that great line at the end of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. 

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On 5/19/2018 at 9:30 PM, TopBilled said:

Agree. The word "bombshell" conjures up images of Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth or Marilyn Monroe. Not Hedy Lamarr.

I think that bombshell was a little nod to the military purposes for the frequency hopping technology was intended (and ultimately used) for.

FWIW (and without getting into gender politics), I think it is quite possible for someone without specialist training to come up with the kind of idea Lamarr received a patent for, either through original out of the box thinking, or through life experience. Sometimes, it's the only way, as direct expertise in a given field can blind you from thinking beyond the doctrines of what you've been taught..

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3 hours ago, limey said:

I think that bombshell was a little nod to the military purposes for the frequency hopping technology was intended (and ultimately used) for.

FWIW (and without getting into gender politics), I think it is quite possible for someone without specialist training to come up with the kind of idea Lamarr received a patent for, either through original out of the box thinking, or through life experience. Sometimes, it's the only way, as direct expertise in a given field can blind you from thinking beyond the doctrines of what you've been taught..

Before I came to your post, I was thinking "the absence of indoctrination".  Or someone who is still able to free-associate, in spite of indoctrination.  Spot on.

 

 

 

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When is this on?  A buddy of mine that I knew from these very forums (ANTAR/Anthony Taylor) Had a massive crush of Hedy   & she saved a lot of livers with her invention during "THE WAR"

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On ‎5‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 9:28 PM, TopBilled said:

Great post. I like how you phrased things, especially the second paragraph.

To TopBilled, it now seems "IN" to dump on Edison in favor of one of his one time colleagues turned adversaries in Tesla.   Do you think it has any true credence?   Online they even go so far as having photos of Edison with horns & Tesla with wings  (P.S. On another site people voted Tesla as the greatest American & or individual that ever lived)

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On ‎5‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 11:52 PM, shutoo said:

Odd, when I hear a bio called "Bombshell" my first thought was Jean Harlow..guess I watch more old films than the PBS folks...

At Sony-(ow 40 acres) once over 200, they still have the writers buildings & ion "Bombshell" they are prominent a lot

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12 hours ago, spence said:

When is this on?  A buddy of mine that I knew from these very forums (ANTAR/Anthony Taylor) Had a massive crush of Hedy   & she saved a lot of livers with her invention during "THE WAR"

I believe that it already aired, but you may be able to stream it from here:

http://www.pbs.org/video/bombshell-the-hedy-lamarr-story-xxkyoj/

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14 hours ago, spence said:

To TopBilled, it now seems "IN" to dump on Edison in favor of one of his one time colleagues turned adversaries in Tesla.   Do you think it has any true credence?   Online they even go so far as having photos of Edison with horns & Tesla with wings  (P.S. On another site people voted Tesla as the greatest American & or individual that ever lived)

I borrowed a book on Edison years ago by Robert Conot.  It was divided into two main sections: Edison The Inventor, and Edison The Industrialist (or something of that nature).  Basically two different books under the same spine, and that pretty much described the real Edison.  He was as much a businessman as he was an inventor, and that includes being one of the early patent trolls.  He was good friends with Henry Ford.  Henry Ford was basically more of the same.

Tesla not so much.

Maybe it is people looking for an underdog.

I liked Thomas Edison in Spencer Tracy's "Edison The Man" very much, but don't confuse the real Thomas Edison with Spencer Tracy's Edison.  They are two very different people.

About 20 or 30 years ago there was an unusual joke I heard that Albert Einstein's wife was the actual scientist, and that left poor Albert to just be an unphotogenic guy who wasn't all that smart.  Not funny to me, then again I don't get off on making fun of people, especially great talent like that.  As far as the foolish images on the Internet of Einstein apparently sticking his tongue out, hey it's on the Internet so it must have really happened, right?

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Having seen the documentary I thought they could have done a better job.  Such a fascinating woman deserved better. I thought it was boring.

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I watched the documentary yesterday, and it was fascinating, as is this debate.

Here's a question for the folks who doubt Hedy's role in the development of frequency-hopping technology: why do you doubt her role but implicitly accept that composer George Antheil then must have been entirely responsible for the technology that was patented? 

There were only two names on the patent: Hedy's and George's.  One or both, therefore, must have invented the technology that was patented.  As far as I've been able to learn, Antheil had no more technical training or education than Hedy did.  (I'd be very interested to hear about it if he did have such an education.)  Similar to Hedy, who said that she had a fascination with science and how things worked from an early age, Antheil had an interest in mechanical things, like the player pianos that he featured in one of his most famous compositions.  But with both of them, this fascination was mostly a personal interest, not one that came from formal education or professional work in a scientific or technical field.

The extensive recorded interview that's featured in Bombshell makes it clear that Hedy was an intelligent, articulate person, even in old age.  From that, and from the other information presented in the film, there seemed to be no reason to doubt that she (and Antheil) could have developed the idea for frequency-hopping technology.  (Among other things, the implementation of the idea involved using player piano roles.)  One of the acknowledged later developers in the field himself acknowledged Hedy's role in writing.

(As for the accusation that she simply stole the idea from her first husband's armaments business, which supplied Germany: if the technology already existed, why weren't the Germans using it during World War II?  Even if a nub of the idea did already exist, it seems fairly obvious that her husband's company and the Germans must not have known what to do with it -- something that Hedy and Antheil were able to figure out.)

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I liked the scene where Trump's face on Forbes magazine was completely covered by a hand (no accident) in discussing an article on Lamarr in the magazine.

(executive producer Susan Sarandon)

 

forbes_hedy_lamarr.jpg

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