I picked up Beautiful, The Life Of Hedy Lamarr because she is one actress from the Golden Hollywood era that I don’t know much about. I was surprised to learn that Hedy was European and actually grew up in Austria. While still in Europe, she married a rich man who lavished her with jewels, but she knew she had to escape the marriage since her husband was selling arms to the Nazis. Finally, he interest in acting led her across the ocean and onto a Hollywood sound stage.
Hedy was always an attractive woman, but it was her drive that allowed her to break into the European movies and ultimately be discovered by Louis B. Mayer. When she arrived in Hollywood as a newly divorced woman, she was ready to be turned into a star. It didn’t take long before she landed roles opposite Hollywood’s great actors, such as Gable, Stewart, and Tracy.
I especially admired that Hedy was passionate about assisting with America’s war effort, and volunteered at the Hollywood canteen and participated in bond drives. I liked that she stood up to Louis B. Mayer and demanded more money when she felt she wasn’t being paid what she was worth. Hedy negotiated for herself throughout her career, a fact that further defined her as a self assured woman. Hedy was such a striking and beautiful woman, that she embodied a girl next door personality wrapped in the skin of a sexy starlet. I can’t say that any of her movies were especially memorable for me, which of course has now prompted me to watch several of her better known films.
I was also surprised to learn that created a device and patented it, which was later used in wars and even garnered her awards for the invention! She truly led a well rounded life complete with heartache and glamour! I really enjoyed learning about Hedy and her fascinating life, despite the awful manner in which this book was written.
The author wrote this as if it were an academic paper, and filled it with footnotes and quotes of others who commented on Hedy’s pictures or the times in general. That approached made it very difficult for the personality and spirit of Hedy to comes through the pages. The author was so focused on emphasizing everything negative in her life, that I felt he didn’t like her at all. Everything positive about her was totally downplayed with the hook for the next chapter being more devastation. Twice he mentioned that Hedy produced her own films, but he never actually described how she accomplished what would have been a major feat for a woman of that time.
Hedy was a spunky woman I enjoyed getting to know, although getting through this book was difficult because of the poor writing. I would not recommend reading anything by this writer.