Film historian Stephen Michael Shearer will discuss his new book “Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr,” at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at D.G.Wills Books, 7461 Girard Ave. (858) 456-1800,
Lamarr’s exotic beauty was heralded across Europe, but she became infamous for her nude scenes in the scandalous 1933 Czech film “Ecstasy.” She became literally trapped in a marriage to Austria’s munitions baron, Friedrich Mandl, a man who befriended Mussolini and hid his Jewish heritage to become an “honorary Aryan,” at the beginning of World War II.
Lamarr fled Europe for Hollywood where she became one of its most glamorous stars, “the most beautiful woman in the world,” appearing opposite actors such as Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and James Stewart. But as her beauty faded and she went from one husband to the next over five marriages, her personal troubles and legal wranglings cast a shadow over her former image and phenomenal intelligence.
“Beautiful” separates the truth from the rumors about Lamarr’s life, and highlights her astonishing role as inventor of a technology that has become an essential part of everything from military weaponry to cell phones.
Publishers Weekly writes of the book, “Shearer has combined extensive archival research with insightful interview quotes. The result is a fascinating biography that recreates Hollywood’s Golden Age of Glamour.”
Shearer is also the author of “Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life.” He has written for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Film Collectors Registry and contributed research to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is a former model and actor, who resides in Minnesota and New York City. —D.G. Wills Books
Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)• Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna.
• During an Atlantic crossing on the Normandie, Louis B. Mayer offered her an MGM contract and changed her name to Hedy Lamarr.
• She appeared in more than two dozen films between 1938 and 1958.
• After-hours research in military communications systems (done with avant-garde composer George Antheil) formed the foundation for the technology used in Wi-Fi and cell phones. For this she won an award in 1997 from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
• She retired to Florida in 1987.
• Her biggest success was in
Cecil B. DeMille‘s spectacular “
Samson and Delilah” (1949).