Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World

Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World

by Richard Rhodes


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Hedy's Folly 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
Rhodes tells the quite interesting story of frequency hopping or as it is now called spread spectrum, a technology that is the basis for GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and much more. He weaves together the different personalities, especially the actress Hedy Lamarr and the composer George Antheil, the original inventors. If you get nothing out of this book, you must understand that women are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly clever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a Hollywood expose, rather a look at the intellectual and free thinking side of a glamorous Hollywood star. The book describe's Hedy Lamarr's inventiveness and natural curiosity, her ability to reason and use information that she learned in practical applications. It provides a glimpse of how she was influenced by people and events in her lifetime, and how loyal and patriotic she was to her adopted country, the United States. The book is very informative, but not linear in its storytelling. There is a great deal of jumping back and forth between characters while filling in background details. I found the story interesting because contributions to military technology were developed by some decidedly "unmilitary" people. It is definitely worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story A real surprise to discover Hedy's other talent!
jcbrunner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The big disappointment among my Christmas books. Richard Rhodes has written splendid books with genial portraits of people and their era ("the men from Mars"). The writing is fine, some parts are enjoyable. Two flaws doom the book. Firstly, Hedy Lamarr's Hollywood career was rather limited and stunted due to the war. The attribution of the "Most Beautiful Woman in the World" (which she inherited by the demise of its previous carrier, a starlet) was more marketing buzz than reality. Secondly, the patent about the joint invention of Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil was shelfed by the US military and never served as a the basis of an actual application during and after the war. With a US torpedo failure rate of sixty percent, the Japanese were never in need of developing such sophisticated countermeasures that would have necessitated complicated frequency-hopping to thwart their efforts. Thus, at the center of Rhodes' short book is a big hole. The inclusion of a biography of American composer George Antheil and especially his Paris years was a good if not sufficient addition. Hedy's Vienna years are based on shoddy research with elementary mistakes about Vienna. Rhodes also chickens out of offering an account of the advent of Austrofascism. No, it is not too complex to tell but an account how a conservative alliance of the capitalists, the church and the military-industrial complex abolished democracy might be too close for comfort for his US audience. Another topic not picked up is the transfer of Jewish-Austrian talent to Hollywood.Rhodes should have condensed his findings into a magazine article. Stretched to book length, his hopping account does not do justice to the ample lives of his protagonists. Like the American torpedoes lacking quality control, this book is a dud.
Beamis12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While there are many parts of this book that are extremely interesting, the style is rather dry. I did like reading about Hedy's earlier life but than the book just started throwing facts at the reader, almost too many, and I started skimming. That Hedy was beautiful, but would rather have been admired for her intelligence, was fascinating. The inventions she and composer George Antheil patented made possible many of the electronics we take for granted today.
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Despite the promise of the title, and the focus of the reviews, this doesn't spend much time on Lamarr's inventing, being much more interested on her acting career and her marriages. And it's as much about her partner's musical career as about Lamarr herself.There might be a moderately engaging article about the invention in this, but the book is disappointing.
rivkat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lightweight book about movie star Hedy Lamarr, who fled a bad European marriage (and overhanging Nazi threat) to come to the US, where she invented things in between making movies. No deep psychological insights, and though the missile radio-guidance technology she patented with the help of a Hollywood composer uses principles that still structure important technologies today there doesn¿t seem to be a direct connection between her version and the versions we use now, so if she hadn¿t been a movie star by day this would be an unremarkable story. Still, it was a decent read: creativity comes from everywhere, including Lamarr¿s exposure to her arms-dealer husband¿s discussions and her collaborator¿s experience with player pianos; the flash of genius is more likely when a curious mind has building blocks on which to draw.
NewsieQ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I remember hearing somewhere that Hedy Lamarr held some important patents that she gave to the US government. Hedy¿s Folly tells the story of how a glamorous film star came to be an inventor. According to the book, starring in Hollywood movies was her day job, one that enabled her to indulge in her true passion: invention. She grew up a curious child with an indulgent father who took her on long walks during which he would explain how things worked. Then she married a wealthy Austrian man whose family business was armaments ¿ war weaponry that would eventually be sold to the Nazis in World War II. ¿Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid,¿ she is quoted as saying. And while she was married to her controlling first husband, she was the docile wife, great at entertaining; over dinner, she sat still and soaked it all in all the war talk. Natural curiosity, education and the knowledge she obtained over dinner helped Ms. Lamarr make good use of her drafting table once she arrived in the U.S. The invention that was the capstone of her inventing career was one that involved radio frequencies ¿ creating a mechanism that would make radio-controlled torpedoes invulnerable to jamming. Her collaborator was George Antheil, a tradition-breaking composer. Although Hedy¿s Folly is a short book, just over 200 pages of text, I thought it was too long. The story, which I¿ll admit is interesting, would have been better as an article in a Sunday magazine. I thought the author spent too much time on Hedy¿s inventing partner, his life and times ¿ and not enough on really explaining Hedy¿s inventions. Richard Rhodes is an established and award-winning non-fiction author. I guess I expected more from his book.
JackieBlem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hedy's Lamarr was far, far more than a pretty face. She was a human sponge, seemingly remote and beautiful but always listening and storing away information. Especially during her first marriage, to the head of a munitions company. It helped her to build a better torpedo, though no one knew that for years as the patented technology languished in the Navy's classified files. Finally, in 1999, she was recognized as being a Pioneer of Science. We should think of her every day, because her idea is the basis of much of the wireless technology: cell phones, computers, GPS and more.This book is the tale of that invention, with colorful bits about Hedy's life in general, as well as her partner on the torpedo invention,and her very good friend, the composer George Antheil. The lives they led are fascinating even without the inventions (of which there were many--Hedy's invented things her whole life, and died with sketches on the drawing board for more). Reading this book is taking a very enlightening trip back to the 1920's through the 1950's where legends collected to create, talk, argue, invent and live the golden life. Beauty, brains, abundant talent, Europe, Hollywood,intrigue--this book really has it all.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
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