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Discussion Guide for Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

The film Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, which premiered in theaters last November, explores the unusual and tumultuous life of Hedy Lamarr—a Jewish and Austrian-born Hollywood actress considered in her time as the most beautiful woman in the world. Though renowned for her allure, Lamarr was also an inventor whose creations paved the way for wireless technology.

Truth be told, I didn’t know a whole lot about Lamarr before seeing the film. The film breathed life into my image of her, poignantly illustrating the life and struggles of this woman who was largely seen as a pretty face; her significant contributions to the world of technology were, until more recently, largely unrecognized. Bombshell closely traces her work in radio frequencies, and the subsequent erasing of her name and role in the development of modern communications systems.

The film airs on PBS starting this Friday, May 18 (check local listings), and we at JWA encourage you to watch and discuss it with your family, friends, students, STEM followers, film buffs, and more. Here are some questions to help frame your discussion:

  1. How did Hedy Lamarr’s beauty influence her life? How did this influence change as she got older?
  2. Taking into account the various descriptions of her in the film, as well as the recorded interviews with her, how would you describe Lamarr as a person? Is there any tension between how Lamarr represents herself and how others chose to represent her?
  3. What role did Lamarr’s Jewish identity play in her life?
  4. Would you describe Lamarr as a feminist? Why or why not?
  5. What do you think Lamarr wanted most in life? What are the things that were most important to her?
  6. What, if anything, surprised you about Lamarr’s life?
  7. What are your thoughts on all of the controversy related to Lamarr’s role as an inventor? Think about the various factors that contribute to this controversy. Why was it so difficult for people to believe that Lamarr did what she did in the technology field? 

To learn more about Hedy Lamarr, check out these JWA resources:

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How to cite this page

Klebe, Larisa. "Discussion Guide for Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story." 15 May 2018. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on August 21, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/discussion-guide-for-bombshell-hedy-lamarr-story>.

Hedy Lamarr.

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