Chuck Jaffee: Who was Hedy Lamarr? |

Chuck Jaffee: Who was Hedy Lamarr?

Chuck Jaffee
Hedy Lamarr was not just a big movie star. In fact, she was the co-inventor of a frequency-hopping mechanism that was originally used for the military, but is now more commonly used in WiFi and Bluetooth technology.
Submitted photo to Prospector |

Here’s the gelling reason to see “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.”

“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway … Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.”

Kent M. Keith wrote these words. Hedy Lamarr spoke them close to the end of her life.

If you know who Hedy Lamarr is, you probably think she was a big deal movie star for a while. No, she was the co-inventor of a frequency-hopping mechanism used by the military and eventually in things like WiFi and Bluetooth technology.

OK, she was a movie star for a while AND an inventor, although you’d probably fall off the end of the trivia spectrum if you could name three movies she was in. (Before its 1949 release, only a couple films ever did bigger box office than Lamarr in “Samson and Delilah.”)

That co-inventor thing is quite a story in itself, and that’s the peculiar thing about “Bombshell.” The title points to a beautiful woman, a beautiful actress. Her beauty made her life what it was, but it zagged her destiny at least as much as it zigged it.

Judging beauty, judging intelligence, judging what life does to a person and how a person handles it, it’s a peculiar yet engaging opportunity to look at a mix of these things by regarding a documentary about Ms. Lamarr.

See “The Hedy Lamarr Story” whether you think you remember her well or some or not at all. This movie star thing, this fame and celebrity thing — even the money thing interlaced with this realm — what can we know about what it’s like to live the ups and downs and ins and outs of life such as it was for Hedy Lamarr?

Lamarr said in a TV interview, before she became a recluse not wanting to be seen by anyone, that she didn’t have any regrets, “You learn from everything all the time.”

“Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” plays at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Nevada Theatre.

Chuck Jaffee of Grass Valley likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at

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