on know­ing your worth

Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - YOU ICONS -


Re­garded in her 1940s hey­day as the most beau­ti­ful woman in the world, Aus­trian-born screen siren Hedy Lamarr was also one of the smartest – though it took the world a while to wake up to this ge­nius wrapped in the guise of a god­dess. With knowl­edge gleaned from her fas­cist, arms-deal­ing ex-hus­band (who failed to re­alise that she was soak­ing up all man­ner of in­tel when­ever the Third Re­ich top brass came to sup­per), she moved to the US where she worked with pi­anist Ge­orge An­thiel to come up with a de­vice to help radio-con­trolled mis­siles break through Ger­man block­ing fre­quen­cies.

They gave their patent to the US Navy for free in 1942, but it wasn’t ex­ploited un­til later, con­tribut­ing to the tech­nol­ogy we now use ev­ery day in our mo­bile phones, wifi and GPS. Hedy loved in­vent­ing things and dur­ing the war ap­plied to join the Na­tional In­ven­tors Coun­cil, but was re­buffed and told that she should use her celebrity to raise money for the war ef­fort in­stead. So she raised more than $7 mil­lion in one go, but car­ried on cre­at­ing new de­signs for things such as traf­fic lights and tis­sue boxes.

She died aged 86 in 2000, still pri­mar­ily lauded for her pul­chri­tude rather than her sci­en­tific prow­ess. Smart-talk­ing, smart-think­ing, al­ways cu­ri­ous and en­gaged in the world around her, Hedy was so much more than a pretty face. These days it’s pos­si­ble for peo­ple to con­ceive of a woman be­ing ca­pa­ble of both beauty and brains. The im­por­tant thing is to make the most of what you’ve got, be wise to so­ci­ety’s prej­u­dices and, like Hedy, be clear on where you at­tribute you own value: ‘Any girl can be glam­orous; all you have to do is stand still and look stupid.’

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