Basinger: Lamarr’s Beauty Was her Curse

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, reviews two books on Hollywood starlet Hedy Lamarr: Ruth Barton’s Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in the Film and Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr by Stephen Shearer. Basinger says both books detail Lamarr’s remarkable life and career, which never quite gave her star status in the movies, in part because many in Hollywood thought she was too beautiful to be taken seriously. Lamarr went on to become an inventor with patents to her name, including one for wireless communication.

Basinger says: “Both Ms. Barton and Mr. Shearer acknowledge the power of Lamarr’s image—and concede that her lasting appeal is not as a female Thomas Edison. Ms. Barton provides the more scholarly account, locating Lamarr “within a history of European exiles in Hollywood.” Her book has a feminist perspective but is not a polemic. In “Beautiful,” Mr. Shearer writes with humor and has fun with some of the glorious nonsense of Lamarr’s movies.