Sunday, 9 November 2008

After a taste of stardom, everything else is poverty

"To be a star is to own the world and all the people in it. After a taste of stardom, everything else is poverty."
Today would have been the 95th birthday of that great star of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Hedy Lamarr. Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna to a Jewish family, she moved to Paris during the rise of the Nazis, where she met Louis B. Mayer. On his insistence she changed her name and thus a classic screen beauty was born!

Hedy Lamarr starred in a number of blockbuster films in the 1940s, with co-stars such as Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper, including the massive Cecil B de Mille classic Samson and Delilah with Victor Mature. Possibly her most glamorous film, however, was the Busby Berkeley extravaganza Ziegfield Girl with James Stewart, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Jackie Cooper and Eve Arden.

As was the pattern at the time, her star eventually began to fade as more, and younger, beauties rose through the studio system to supplant her. She retired from films in the early 1950s, only featuring again in the headlines when she hit hard times and was accused of shoplifting - a scandal that led Andy Warhol to make a cruel short film about her.

Bizarrely she was also an inventor - she patented something called frequency-hopping during the war, a system intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam. The technology is apparently used today in such modern inventions as Wi-Fi connections and cordless phones. Since 2005 on November 9th in German-speaking countries, Inventor's Day has been held in honour of Hedy Lamarr and her invention.

A glittering star indeed!

Hedy Lamarr on IMDB

Hedy Lamarr - from riches to rags

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