Celebrities — so fluffy, so innocuous, so silly and pointless. It seems we’re surrounded by manufactured celebs these days. But for every Paris Hilton there’s a Hedy Lamarr — a strong, brilliant woman who succeeded in both the celebrity realm and in scientific endeavors.
Perhaps the most incredible celeb inventor of them all, silver screen siren Lamarr’s life story reads like something out of a paperback thriller, with her married to a Nazi at one point, who forbid her from acting. But rather than submit, she was able to gather enough intelligence from his Nazi party meetings to blackmail her husband into allowing her to flee the country. She headed for the U.S., changed her name, and began a second career in movies in earnest. But when she wasn’t filming, she was inventing, and created a secret communication system that could be used to control zeppelins and torpedoes from afar. Though her technology wasn’t adopted until 1962, it actually serves as the basis for a lot of cell phone technology today. Pretty cool, we’d say.
Her incredible story is chronicled in the new book, Hedy’s Folly, by Richard Rhodes, but you can read on about other celebrity inventors and innovators in this slideshow.