Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark
Published: February 2019
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, 1914 – Vienna, Australia) was best known as an international movie star – with a filmography that spans three decades. She “led a double life. The public knew her as a glamorous movie star, famous throughout the world. But in private Hedy was a brilliant inventor, a fact known only to her closest friends” (from the opening pages of Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor).
As a child, she put her creativity to use through imaginative play. She constructed a platform for her toys to put on performances so she could reenact parts of movies she’d seen. All her life, she…”loved to play act and pretend.” She was a tinkerer too and was very interested in how things worked. Hedy had a passion for science and engineering and she had so many ideas. There was one idea in particular that birthed a secure torpedo guidance system (designed with George Antheil). It was a secret communications system that used frequency hopping that would prevent the enemy from being able to interfere with communications between U.S. naval ships and torpedos. And while this new idea would have been incredibly helpful, our country was at war and this frequency-hopping design would not see the light of day for decades. Can you guess where you might find this technology today though?
Hedy Lamarr is someone I never really knew anything about and the combined work of Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu provided a great introduction to her life. The book is packed with inspiring examples of Hedy’s creative process that shows the reader how she persevered. The story also encourages curiosity and play; two important ingredients to spark innovation. In the back matter, you will find a timeline of Hedy’s life (from Australia to the United States), details about the secret communications system, Hedy’s Filmography, and a list of additional reading about women in STEM.
I will definitely add a copy of this book to our K-5 library collection and I already have some teachers in mind who I know will want to get their hands on it to read with their students. The recommendation I found on Amazon was for ages 5 and up but honestly, as a class read aloud, it would be better suited for 2nd grade and up. Curriculum guides for teaching with this book can be found on Laurie Wallmark’s website in the ‘Teacher’ tab: https://www.lauriewallmark.com/.
Laurie Wallmark | https://www.lauriewallmark.com/
Katy Wu | https://katycwwu.tumblr.com/
Sterling Children’s Books
An Imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Borrowed from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library