In her historical novel, The Only Woman in the Room, Marie Benedict introduces us to Hedy Lamarr, a woman most people think of as an exotic-looking WWII-era movie star. Yet, she was much more complicated than that.
Benedict lets us see into the early years of Hedy’s acting career in Austria, where she caught the eye of a wealthy arms manufacturer, Friedrich Mandel. As his wife, she led a life of luxury and was privy to many dinner table conversations with leaders of countries, including Mussolini and the Nazis.
Hedy found her husband’s possessiveness oppressive. She escaped to London and soon after met Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, and her American acting career began. The story could have ended there, but there is much more. Hedy was interested in inventing and wanted to do something meaningful in the war.
Along with her co-inventor George Antheil, Hedy developed a technology to prevent signal jamming in torpedoes. This technology was important in developing GPS, cell phones, and other modern technology. Hedy did not receive credit for her invention until late in her life. Most people were unaware of her story until now.
Readers Ink Club Member Rating: 8
Review by Deborah Drucker