HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr Review - Simple and Effective

“HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr”, Written and Performed by Heather Massie, Directed by Joan Kane, performed at the Theater Row Studio Theater 410 West 42 nd St.NYC.- Nov. 9 [email protected] :30 , 11 [email protected] :30 and 15 th @ 9:00 P.M.

 

Heather Massie, Photo: Courtesy of Heather Massie

Heather Massie has created for herself with the able collaboration of director, Joan Kane , a highly entertaining one-woman show revealing the highs, lows, and most intriguing aspects of one of the more glamorous personalities of what was certainly the most glamorous era of Hollywood’s history. “It’s no secret . Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” Truth is, Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler ( 1914-2000) far from stood still during the first five decades of her long life, and was even further from stupid. In fact, she was without question conspicuously brilliant. As an actress this intelligence was barely challenged as much as she would have liked. But she found ways to keep her polymath’s interests occupied.

 

HEDY United Solo show

 

She was trained in her native Austria, and sometime in Germany with no less a personage than the legendary stage genius, Max Reinhardt prior to embarking on her initially notorious film career at age 18 in Gustav Machaty’s ,“Ecstasy”(1933), wherein she briefly appeared fully nude and simulated on screen orgasms with the inspired help of the director’s safety pin. Nevertheless, despite, or perhaps because of such sensational appearances, after she escaped a disastrous first marriage to a ruthless German arms manufacturer, Fritz Mandl in 1937 ,Hedwig caught the eye of Louis B. Mayer when he was scouting talent throughout Europe and specifically Paris where they first met. The extremely clever Ms. Kiesler was able to drive a hard bargain with the mogul and landed a promising seven year MGM contract which took a year to bear fruit with a loan out opposite the already established European star, Charles Boyer who met her at a party and was instantly convinced she would be the perfect co-star in the American version of Jean Gabin’s French release, Pepe LeMoko. Boyer, then already fluent in English was slated to star in that which would be known as the film, “Algiers”, in which the line, ”Take me to the Casbah”, was whispered by him to the sultry and now newly christened siren, HEDY LAMARR.

 

HEDY, Photo: Charley Marlowe

 

The rest of her checkered film career is accessible history. Lamarr never quite reached the histrionic heights as some of the other notable imported beauties such as Garbo, or Bergman, were able to, but the Viennese star accomplished one of the more astounding feats of invention with the collaboration of an equally improbable source: composer, George Anthei l(1900-1959). Together, spurred by their desire to defeat Hitler, they invented a radio guidance system for allied torpedoes using spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology in order to defeat the threat of jamming the sea weapon directed against Axis Navel vessels. They received their patent in August of 1942 and fully donated it all to the U.S, Navy, but to no avail during the war. The War Department did not fully realize what the two had wrought. It took another two decades before the Navy was able to construct and implement the brilliant device and was even by then instrumental as a further deterrent to the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  

HEDY, Photo: Charley Marlowe

Such aspects of both her celebrated and neglected life, as well as her multiple marriages and preferred leading men, are well realized in the personage of Heather Massie, and particularly in her multiple roll hopping along her compelling and quite often humorous narrative. Massie never lets the audience wander, but keeps its attention with considerable elegance and skill. The staging of Ms. Kane is simple and effective, letting the remarkable story be the true star. Kudos to ALL the ladies involved!

 

 

HEDY, Photo: Charley Marlow

 

It’s been playing on 42 nd st. Theater Row this month at the United Solo Festival with one more show scheduled for Nov.15 th at 9:00 P.M. After that, I daresay, Ms. Lamarr may well be heard from any suitable venue ready to hear a remarkable true tale from a stunning and genuinely inventive personality from the previous century.

 

HEDY, Photo: Al Foote III

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