Clip | Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story - Interview with Director Alexandra Dean

Director Alexandra Dean shares all the articles, photos and letters stashed away in her home that helped put the documentary together. These intimate artifacts tell the true story behind the glamorous actress that is Hedy Lamarr, who never spoke publicly about her inventions. Find out what Dean found frustrating during her research and who helped her put all the pieces together right before she almost gave up.

 

Produced by Reframed Pictures in association with American Masters, the new documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story explores how Lamarr’s true legacy is that of a technological trailblazer. The film premieres nationwide May 18, 2018, at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and will be available to stream the following day via pbs.org/americanmasters and PBS apps.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Transcript Print

One of the most frustrating things about Hedy Lamarr is she never gave interviews about doing her invention She never talked about that part of her life.

She seems to almost have intentionally avoided talking about it That was just Hedy.

She was a sphinx.

She didn't really want people to know about her.

But as a result It was very hard to figure out her real story.

This is one of three great biographies on her.

They talked to her children... There's some articles... There's some interesting biography but there's no voice of Hedy Lamarr.

How did she do this?

There's a few articles... maybe six written in her lifetime Which mention the invention but they have a tone that's kind of... dismissive.

'They say it isn't right. That it shouldn't happen.'

'Anyone as fabulously beautiful as Hedy Lamarr simple cannot possess brains.'

I found scraps here and there... But I was convinced that there would be some hidden tape somewhere.

And, so I called dozens of people over six months And finally after almost giving up, I got through to a reporter called Fleming Meeks.

When Fleming Meeks told me he had tapes of Hedy Lamarr I felt like I had somehow conjured them out of thin air from my pure need to find them.

It didn't seem real.

She was really a very modern contemporary woman... who was kind of stuck, somehow landed in the '40s.

And acted though as though she lived today.

With no sense of boundaries or what she could or couldn't do 'I'm a feisty soul and God knows there's enough to fight around here.

'But where ever I am and whatever I'm doing, I will not let myself be beaten.'

She fought so hard to be a modern woman And a free person.

And in the end, her life is sad because she gave up.

Because she got knocked out, Because she did end up putting all her eggs in the beauty basket And suffered for it.

But, what I love about Hedy's story is Even so, brains won!

Her invention is what we remember her for.

We don't care what she looked like anymore.

We only care until as far as she was the most beautiful And, she invented something.

That we all use today.

We should question who else has invented something really amazing.

Because it means that pretty much anyone can think of extraordinary things.

That don't need to have some advance degree.

They don't need to be a serious scientist or mathematician Inventing is about having these wonderful, beautiful leaps, cognitive leaps.

Coming up with new ideas and anyone can do it.