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Author: Sandra Bruna Thursday 3 June 2021

Throughout history, there are many women who are emblematic, like Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Rosa Parks or Hedy Lamarr, women who stand among the fifteen in the world who have been an example to their time and due to their actions.

That is why, when we received a novel about Hedy Lamarr, by Roberto Lapid, who has been closely in touch with her family, we considered it a fantastic novel with a top-notch character.

Hedy lamarr was an actress of extraordinary beauty who reigned the Olympus of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Everybody admired her glamour although it overshadowed less known facets of hers. She was not only a sex symbol, but also had a privileged mind and was the creator of a communications system on which all the current technologies are based. We could say she was the mastermind behind what today we know as WIFI. Inventing was her real passion. Chemistry was her favorite subject and, since an early age, she grew interest in technology, like her father, who she adored. She developed a discrete career as a telecommunications engineer. She came up with little cubes which turned water into coke and helped the tycoon Howard Hugues in his obsession of creating a faster plane by studying birds’ aerodynamics and the physiognomy of fish.

Isn’t it extraordinary? Lapid believes Hedy Lamarr is a key woman in the history of the 20th century and that is what his novel about this intelligent beauty shows.

The novel occurs between a war struck Europe, United States and Argentina. Friedrich «Fritz» Mandl is a young Austrian who, at the age of 19, takes care of the weapon factory of his father. In just a decade, he amasses one of the biggest fortunes on the planet. He is rich, eccentric, powerful, clever and a ladies’ man. An unbelievable character, worshiped and feared by many. In the 30s, during the prewar period, he counted Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco, as well as others, among his customers. Among his close fiends stand out names like Truman Capote, Hemingway, Orson Welles, Eva Perón and the general Perón.

In 1933, after watching Ecstasy, where actress Hedwig Kiesler performed the first female nude and the first orgasm in the big screen, he fell head over heels for her. Hedy was an exceptional and beautiful theatre and engineering student. Her life was also full of lovers. After filming Ecstasy, she married Fritz and they lived an unbridled passion, but later, due to infidelities and jealousy, the relationship took a dangerous turn. He locked her in his Salzburg castle, where he organized events, meetings and does business with politicians, businessmen and judges.

Hedy managed to escape and runs away through Europe. On a cruise-ship to New York, she met Lous B. Meyer, president of Metro Goldwyn Meyer and, even before reaching their destination, they signed a contract and she became Hedy Lamarr, the most beautiful woman in the cinema, who would succeed as a famous Hollywood actress. But Hedy was more than just beauty and glamour, she also embodied power, intelligence, and dedication. Together with her acting career, she studied engineering and invented a communications system to guide torpedoes and ensure communication between the Allies during war. This technology was the base for the system used today to communicate with our phones, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

I didn’t know this woman and I loved reading this novel, as it opens the door to her accomplishments through a real story that looks like a film.

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