Hedy Lamarr as inventor - and Hughes' part in story - airs on PBS May 18
A PBS documentary whose production was aided by Westside resident Dave Hughes will air on PBS Friday, May 18.
Scheduled from 9 to 10:30 p.m., the show is titled “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.”
Director Alexandra Dean interviewed Hughes in 2015 after learning how he had sought to have the famous actress recognized for her World War II patent in wireless technology.
Hughes said he had learned about Lamarr's inventive efforts through his early-1990s wireless research under a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Hughes followed up on his NSF research by lobbying for Lamarr to receive the 1997 Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, three years before her death. (Her co-inventor, musical composer George Anthiel, had already died by then.)
Hughes himself had been honored by the foundation in 1993.
Praised for her beauty as an actress, Lamarr was a strong supporter of the Allied cause in World War II, even raising money with kisses. But at the same time she and Anthiel were working to engineer an innovation called “frequency-hopping,” which they hoped the Navy could use to prevent the Nazis from jamming American torpedo radio signals.
However, the Navy never did so, and for many years the source of the idea was forgotten, even though it became the basis of modern spread-spectrum technology.
When Dean visited Colorado Springs in 2015 to interview Hughes - who will appear briefly in the film - she told the Westside Pioneer that "Bombshell" would explore the question: “How did this come to pass that someone with a grade-school education and a composer with no technical background developed this invention in a movie star's house?”
Lamarr, added Dean, “was so much more than a beautiful face.”
Westside Pioneer article