Thursday, July 7, 2016

A "Hedy!" experience

The inventor of your cellphone was a Hollywood star.
Called the most beautiful woman in the world,
Her name was Hedy Lamarr

From the famous Louis B. Mayer she chutzpah-ed a better contract,
but complained that her looks always did distract
in film she was a star, but in real life,
Being judged only by her looks caused her strife.

She escaped boring husbands and helped out in World War II,
performing and serving and hugging for USO,
and co-patenting a technology used by me and by you.

She meant it to save lives in the guidance of missiles
but the smart woman's invention of radio wave frequency hopping
eventually was used from cell phones to wireless online shopping.

OKAY I'm not a great poet, but I am giddy after seeing a play that I enjoyed more than any I can remember. "Hedy! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr" had me laughing almost non-stop, and thinking too, so enjoyably. It's fitting that Richard Rhodes, who could make physics a narrative, wrote a history of Hedy Lamarr and her technological contribution to the world.

It didn't come out that she was Jewish until her death, and her technological research was only declassified (?) in like 1985?

My friend Heather Massie wrote and stars in "Hedy!" I was worried that I might not like the play but I LOVED it.

The next performance is in November, so you have plenty of time to plan for it. Seriously, the audience laughed out loud through the whole performance today. And it made me think, and it wasn't even idolatry: she made some bad decisions about who to marry, and then did it again. And in addressing her life, the play addresses glamour culture, technological dependence, bureaucracy, sexism, the horror of war, the importance of self confidence. In the advance preview I saw today, Ms. Lamarr scolded a patron whose phone went off, the audience cracking up in the process. Ms. Massie's Hedy! is charming and smart.

"Hedy! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr" will be performed on November 9th, in the cool days between Halloween and Thanksgiving, in New York City.


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