HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr

Heather Massie in her solo play, "HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr," at Morningside Players, 100 La Salle Street, Manhattan. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Heather Massie in her solo play, "HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr," at Morningside Players, 100 La Salle Street, Manhattan. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Rating 95%
As the audience gathered for HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, we were transported through time by a captivating blend of visuals and sounds. Simple props from the era and film clips of Hedy Lamarr added to the allure. As we watched, we heard music like Cole Porter’s delightful You Do Something to Me (1929) and Wang Wang Blues (1920) performed by Paul Whiteman and His Ambassador Orchestra.

Hedy Lamarr, Clark Gable, and George Sanders

As the lights dimmed, we entered the Golden Age of Hollywood, joining the likes of Hedy Lamarr, Clark Gable, George Sanders, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Jimmie Stewart, and Lucille Ball. A backlit Hedy Lamarr (Heather Massie) awakened behind a backlit scrim, ruminating about Paris while referencing her roles in ‘White Cargo,’ ‘Champagne Waltz,’ and ‘Samson and Delilah.’ Quotes included: “I am Tondelayo,” “I’d like champagne, a waltz, maybe a caress,” and “If you crush the life out of me, I’d kiss you with my dying breath.”
Heather Massie on the stage in "HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr," Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Heather Massie on the stage in “HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr,” Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Frequency Hopping

On the now lit stage, it’s 1997, and Hedy Lamarr receives a phone call from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about The Secret Communication System. She’s to be recognized for a patent she gave to the U. S. Navy in 1942. Working with composer George Antheil, she invented the means to ensure coded radio communications using frequency hopping. After the call, she looks at the audience with surprise and asks, ‘How are all of you here?” From this point, she tells her life story, beginning with her childhood in Vienna.

War Bonds, Science, and The Arts

With vitality and spirit, Lamarr took us on a journey through time to show us who she is. While sharing her story, she channeled the spirits of significant figures, such as her parents and famous actors. Lamarr interacted intimately with the audience, even finding a willing participant to demonstrate how she sold kisses for war bonds. Lamarr spoke passionately about her love for Austria and childhood memories with her parents, where her father taught her science and mechanics. At the same time, her mother exposed her to Vienna’s rich musical and dramatic arts. She mentioned her early film experience in an early Czech erotic film entitled Ecstasy (1933), directed by Gustav Machatý. She was then known as Hedy Kiesler.

Weapon Guidance Systems

Hedy Lamarr was overlooked for her intelligence due to her beauty. While she earned a patent in 1942 for secure radio communications and weapon guidance systems, the U.S. military first used it in the early 1960s. Heather Massie’s one-person show gave voice to Lamarr, enriched by visuals, lighting, sound, time travel, and Lamarr’s signature style. The set used period furniture, including chairs donated by her family. With Lamarr’s furniture, Heather Massie brought Hedy Lamarr to life with stunning visuals and immersive staging. She was adorned in a classic gown, coif, and lipstick.
Heather Massie in a scene from "HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr," Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Heather Massie in a scene from “HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr,” Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Groundbreaking Woman Denied Recognition

Despite being overlooked by her husbands, Lamarr was a feminist ahead of her time. Massie’s portrayal celebrated Lamarr’s intelligence and ingenuity. The show honored Lamarr’s legacy as a groundbreaking woman denied recognition and opportunities because of her physical beauty. Lamarr’s story inspires young women to pursue the disciplines of their choice and encourages everyone to follow their passion and strive to make the world better.

Words To Live By

Lamarr left us with words to live by, forged in the paradoxical commandments written by Kent M. Keith in 1968. People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered – love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives – do good anyway. The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds – think big anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight – build anyway. You give the world the best that you have, and you may just feel kicked into the teeth – you give the world the best that you’ve got anyway. Bravo to raconteur Heather Massie as Hedy Lamarr. Massie’s one-person performance celebrated the forward-thinking, intelligence, ingenuity, and inventions of Hedy Lamarr. Massie honored Lamarr’s memory as a historical figure denied recognition and opportunities because she was a woman, especially a beautiful woman.
Hedy Lamarr (1943) Anon. Photographer. Public domain

Hedy Lamarr (1943) Anon. Photographer. Public domain

HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr

Written, Performed, and produced by Heather Massie Directed by Leslie Kincaid Burby

Artistic

Projection Designers – Jim Marlowe & Charley Marlowe Sound Designers – Jacob Subotnick & Andy Evan Cohen Tech Director – Dan Leary Dialect Coach – Page Clements Photo – Al Foote III Board Operators – Lauren Arneson & Emmett Cleaver Press Representative – Jonathan Slaff & Associates – www.jsnyc.com

Morningside Players

100 La Salle St, New York, NY 10027 Morningside Players Theater Co. (646) 200-5089 The show runs through October 29 Runtime is 90 minutes without intermission. A Q&A with Heather Massie follows each performance. For tickets and information, go to morningsideplayers.org Readers may also enjoy reviews of Rip Tide,  Twisted,  Hedda GablerLove, Sex and Real Estate, and Nightmare Dollhouse. <

HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr

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