Beautiful: the Life of Hedy Lamarr by Stephen Michael Shearer

Apr 27, 2012

Perhaps the title should be Beautiful and Brainy. Beautiful is a readable account of the life of “the most beautiful woman of the first half of the Twentieth Century”, a film star of 1930s and 1940s, and the namesake of Austria’s annual invention award.

Born to an upper middle class Viennese banker and a Jewish mother, Hedy Kiesler became a movie star in Europe as a teenager, soon afterwards married one of Europe’s wealthiest arms manufacturers, and fled her husband and Vienna as Austria was joining the Third Reich.

Shearer tells the story of an actress who arrives in America with no English language skills, defies studio owners, and rises to stardom in American 1930s and 1940s film with co-stars like Charles Boyer, James Stewart, John Garfield, Robert Young, and Victor Mature.  Near the end of her life she was recognized for her little known inventions and contributions to science that helped the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Reviewed by Library Staff