Monthly Archives: January 2012
Hedy Lamarr – Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler ( November 9, 1913 – January 19, 2000) Not just another pretty face from Hollywood’s Golden Age, but a smart one as well. You see, Hedy helped invent technology that would eventually be used in cellular phones and WIFI. It’s called “Frequency-hopping spread-spectrum”. Here’s the story; Hedy and her Avante-Garde musician friend George Anthiel developed an automated control for playing multiple musical intruments – in this case player pianos. With this, they then created an early version of ‘frequency hopping’ using a piano roll to change between 88 different frequencies, which was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam. The idea wasn’t implemented until 1962 when it was used by U.S. military ships during the blockade of Cuba. This invention would later lay the basis for Spread-Spectrum Communication Technology which would be instumental in the developement of WIFI and Cordless communication. So Hedy Lamarr Invented the cell phone – sort of.
Now for her movie career – Hedy started her career as a teenager in Berlin and was dubbed the most beautiful ‘Woman in Europe’. In 1933 she starred in the Czech film Ecstasy. Closeups of her face during orgasm in one scene (rumored to be unsimulated), and full frontal shots of her in another scene, swimming and running nude through the woods, gave the film great notoriety. She was ‘discovered’ in Paris by Louis B. Mayer in 1933 and brought to Hollywood. Her first American role was the lead in Algiers co-starring Charles Boyer. Hedy’s career went into decline in the early ’50’s and she lived the rest of her life out of the public eye in, of all places, Florida. She was really only heard from a couple of times, once when she was arrested for shoplifting and also to sue Mel Brooks for using her name in the movie Blazing Saddles.
In the Forties and Fifties burlesque was big, big, big – scantily glad women, stupid comedians, animal acts, etc. All major cities had Burlesque houses – but if you didn’t live in a big city and you wanted to see Lili St. Cyr’s famous Bubble Bath routine you went to the movies (discrete art houses). Some of these beautiful posters are signs to advertise a specific dancer, (Zorita and her Snake) some are compilations of different dancers along with baggy pants comedians and a few are actual movies w/ actual plots that star strippers. Big names, big girls – Tempest Storm, Blaze Star, Rosita Royce, Rose Le Rose, Lili St. Cyr, Bettie Page, etc.,etc.,etc. The designs are great – throw on as many stars as the poster will fit and some sensational type and headlines and BAM, it’s done.
Andrew Warhola (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) – Andy Warhol We all know Andy’s work – his multi-colored silk screen portraits of the rich and famous, the soup cans, Marilyn, Elvis, etc. We also know what Andy looks like – the crazy white/platinum wig and clear glasses. It’s interesting though to see the man in a different light, young, unposed and in a few cases – in drag.
Anne Bancroft – Born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano (September 17, 1931 – June 6, 2005) The first time I saw The Graduate when I was a kid I thought Anne Bancroft was incredibly old and incredibly hot. Turns out she was only 36 at the time of her most famous role as Mrs. Robinson – so she wasn’t old at all, but she sure was hot. It also happens she was incredibly talented, winning 1 Oscar (Best Actress – The Miracle Worker), 3 BAFTAs, 2 Golden Globes, 2 Tonys and 2 Emmys. Not Bad. She was also married to Mel Brooks (?) for 40 years. Her Mrs. Robinson has become iconic over the years and up until recently, (being replaced somewhat by Cougar) a euphanism for an older woman chasing a younger man. It’s also a great song by Simon & Garfunkel w/ a pretty good cover by the Lemonheads. Oh, and her son Max writes books about Zombies.
What’s the criteria here? Movies with a plot that just happens to have a bunch of bands playing between the action. The big one was 1956’s Rock Around the Clock featuring Bill Haley and his Comets, The Platters, Freddie Bell and the Bellboys, et al. When producers saw that they could make some cash off this new Rock n’ Roll thing, everybody got their own movie how else can you explain Shake, Rattle & Roll’s feature players being Choker Campbell (?). The Girl Can’t Help It revitalized things a bit featuring Gene Vincent, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran, among others and is pretty good. And then came British Invasion. Thought to be another flash-in-the-pan band, Richard Lester directed The Beatles in A Hard Days Night like his life depended on it. It’s great, and funny and well….it’s got The Beatles! After that, the floodgates were open again, The Dave Clark 5 and Gerry & the Pacemakers both had starring roles, as did Freddie and the Dreamers. And finally, check out country music’s answer to the trend with Nashville Rebel starring Tex Ritter, Loretta Lynn and introducing Waylon Jennings. Most share a similar design ethic – toss as many band names and pictures as possible and finish it of with some crazy type – perfect.