Celebrating Women: Hedy Lamarr
By Sheila E
Hedy Lamarr was a beautiful, glamorous film star during Hollywood’s Golden Age, but what is not so well known is that she was also an inventor.
She was born in Vienna, Austria on 9 November 1914 with the birth name Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler.
Her father, a successful banker, came from a Jewish family in what is now Lviv, Ukraine, while her mother, also with a Jewish background, came from Budapest and was a concert pianist. Hedy was interested in the theatre and acting from an early age. At 12 she won a beauty contest in Vienna. But she was also interested in technology, an interest which came from her father, who explained topics to her on their walks.
Her early career started in Vienna, when she got herself hired as a script girl by a film company, Sascha Films. That got her a foot in the door and she went on to be hired as an extra and then had a small speaking part in a couple of films. The producer, Max Reinhardt, was impressed with her and cast her in a play “The Weaker Sex”, before taking her back to Berlin with him. However, she didn’t actually appear in any of Reinhardt’s productions because she met a Russian theatre producer, Alexis Granowsky, who cast her in his first film “The Trunks of Mr O F “ in 1931. Granowsky left for Paris, but Hedy stayed in Berlin and after a part in a comedy, she was given the leading role in the film that would make her famous. At the age of only 18, she played the part of a young woman neglected by her older husband. The film by Gustav Machaty was called “Ecstasy”. It was very controversial, as it showed her in the throes of sexual ecstasy and also in brief nude scenes. Regarded as an artistic film in Europe, it won a prize at the Venice Film Festival, but was also banned in Germany and in the USA.
She returned to Vienna and was given several stage roles, amongst them the lead in “Empress Elizabeth of Austria”, which was critically acclaimed. Many admirers sent her flowers and tried to visit her backstage, but she rejected them all, except for the persistent Friedrich Mandl, an extremely wealthy arms dealer with links to Mussolini and later Hitler. Hedy was swept off her feet and she married him on 10 August 1933. She was 18 and he was 33. He strongly disapproved of her acting and refused to allow her to continue, keeping her a virtual prisoner in their home. Eventually she left him, escaping in disguise to Paris and later to London in 1937, and wrote:
“I knew very soon that I could never be an actress while I was his wife. … He was the absolute monarch in his marriage. … I was like a doll. I was like a thing, some object of art which had to be guarded—and imprisoned—having no mind, no life of its own.”
One benefit of this marriage however was that she accompanied her husband to conferences, where she came into contact with scientists and gained an insight into applied science and technology, which she found useful later in life.
In fact Hedy was married and divorced 6 times between the years of 1933 and 1965, when she divorced for the final time. None of the marriages lasted long, but she did have 2 children with her third husband John Loder. She had also adopted a child when married to her second husband, Gene Markey, who turned out later to be her illegitimate son with John Loder, thus giving her 3 children in total, although she was estranged from her first, illegitimate son, James, for most of her life, starting from when he was only 12.
In London Hedy met the MGM Studios impresario Louis B Meyer, who offered her a contract on 125$ a week, which she turned down. However, after a clever move of booking a ticket on the same
liner he was returning on and managing to impress him on the journey, she was hired at 500$ a week. On his advice she changed her name to Hedy Lamarr and went on to make many films in
Hollywood. The first in 1938 was “Algiers” with Charles Boyer, which was very successful. She went on to play opposite many famous leading men including Spencer Tracy, Robert Taylor and Clark Gable, very often typecast as the glamorous seductress of exotic origin. Her most successful films included “Boom Boom” in 1940 and “Comrade X” in the same year, both with Clark Gable. Her most well known film came in 1950 in Cecil B DeMille’s Oscar winning film “Samson and Delilah”, where she played Delilah opposite Victor Mature’s Samson. She became an American citizen in 1953. Hedy made her last film, “The Female Animal,” in 1958 and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
Despite her many successful films, Hedy had begun to find her roles rather boring, so during World War II she turned to inventing to relieve the tedium. She had no formal training, but taught herself the basics. Her most notable invention was a frequency hopping system to prevent radio controlled torpedoes from being jammed or turned off course by the enemy. She collaborated with her friend, the composer and pianist George Antheil, and they managed to invent a radio controlled system for played pianos based on perforated paper tape. She and Antheil were granted a US Patent for this invention in 1942. In fact the US military wasn’t using radio guided torpedoes anyway, so it may have seemed a wasted effort, but the principles of their work were used much later in the Bluetooth and GPS technology we use today! In recognition of this, both she and Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014. In 1997, Hedy became the first woman to be awarded the Invention Convention’s BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, often known as the “Oscars of Invention.”
She became rather a recluse in her later years, only communicating with friends and family by telephone during the last few decades of her life. She died in January 2000 in Casselberry, Florida, aged 85. Her son Anthony Loder fulfilled her wish to spread her ashes in the Vienna Woods and in 2014 his request that her remaining ashes be interred in an honorary grave in Vienna was granted. This can be found in the Vienna Central Cemetery.
On Tuesday 7 February, the Craft Group and the Walkers gathered at the Clubhouse to say ‘au revoir’ to Jenny T who is returning to the UK. Jenny was always a willing helper and especially will be missed by the Craft ladies and the Walkers. She led many lovely forest walks accompanied by her faithful companion Maggs. We send our best wishes and good luck!
By Elaine B
A message from Jenny T
Thank you to everyone for your kind wishes on our departure to the UK. The Brussels Women’s Club has been such a wonderful part of my life over the past few years and I feel privileged to have met such an inspiring group of women – the walkers, the crafters, the book addicts, the charity coordinators and especially everyone who volunteers their time to keep the club going.
Jeremy and I, and Maggs the Labrador, are enjoying exploring walks in the Brecon Beacons in Wales while we decide where we will eventually settle.
I miss you all but will keep in touch, and am looking forward to coming back for a visit before too long.
Princess Charlotte – From Empress of Mexico to insane hermit
By Ann E
Princess Charlotte was the sister of King Leopold II. She was born in 1840 to Leopold I and Queen Louise-Marie. She was named after Leopold I’s first wife who had died in childbirth.
Despite father Leopold’s initial disappointment at the birth of a daughter rather than a son, Charlotte was given the same education as her brothers and proved to be a much brighter pupil than her siblings. Throughout his life, Leopold I was saddened by the fact that Charlotte, who was clever and beautiful, could never succeed him as sovereign.
In 1850, her life changed completely when her mother died. Charlotte is only ten years old. As the years rolled by, the inevitable quest to find her a suitable husband got underway. Two candidates presented themselves: King Pedro V of Portugal and Archduke Maximilian, the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria. Unfortunately for Pedro, he only had limited funds and Portugal was not without its riots and dissatisfied citizens. So in the end, Charlotte opted for Max. He arrived in Brussels in 1856 to see if Charlotte would be a suitable bride. Even though she was smaller than him which was a plus point, the fact that she is “very clever” made him feel somewhat uneasy.
Nevertheless, they finally married in 1857 at the Royal Palace in Brussels. Her wedding dress cost 12,000 Belgian francs, which was an absolute fortune in those days.
The young couple initially lived in Monza castle near Milan. However, the desire to unify Italy had started with the new state far from happy having a representative of the Austrian Empire ruling in any way. In 1859, Franz Joseph decided to release his brother from his duties and agreed to hand over Lombardy to a united Italy.
Max appeared to be a right royal loser. Their marriage was a fiasco and Max had various affairs.
When Max gave Charlotte an STD, it spelled the end of their sexual relations. Despite this, they stayed together and started to look for a new challenge.
This eventually came from Mexico. The country was torn by conflict, civil wars with the church and the conservatives on one side and the liberals and Republicans on the other. The new Mexican president confiscated all the properties of the Catholic church and refused to pay back the country’s foreign debts. This angered the European powers as they had lent the Mexicans truckloads of money.
In 1862, Emperor Napoleon III sent an army to Mexico to sort things out. Premier Juarez and his government were driven out of the country. The conservatives wanted Mexico to be part of
Napoleon’s empire, creating a Catholic bulwark against the Protestant USA, which at that time was itself in the throes of a civil war.
After expressing serious doubts regarding the position offered to him, Max accepted the Mexican crown. Charlotte, on the other hand, was wildly enthusiastic. She strongly believed that she and Max would be able to bring order and civilisation to the country. In Vienna, Franz Joseph forced Max to give up any right to the Austrian throne, which was a clever way to get rid of his annoying brother.
Max and Charlotte arrived in Mexico City in 1864. The royal palace was in a derelict state, falling to pieces and crawling with vermin. On his first night, Max even resorted to sleeping on a billiard table.
The royal couple had a new castle built on a hill above the city. It is at this point that Charlotte changed her name to Carlotta.
But Max was just not up to the job trying to please both sides, conservatives and liberals. He spent most of his time abroad, leaving Carlotta to rule in his place. She proved to be an effective ruler but refused to return confiscated goods and property to the church. Fighting broke out and despite the support of a ragtag army of Belgian and French troops, the situation deteriorated. Charlotte and Max resorted to taking drugs in a doomed effort to conceive an heir to the throne, but to no avail.
Charlotte travelled to France and requested an audience with Napoleon III. At their meeting, she was offered a glass of orange juice which she refused to touch unless someone else tried it first. This was one of the first signs of her eventual paranoia.
She travelled to Rome to beg the Pope to help her. During her stay, she was allowed to sleep in the Vatican library, making her the first woman to spend the night within the walls of the Vatican.
The situation in Mexico got increasingly worse for Max. He appeared before a war council which sentenced him to death by firing squad. He gave every soldier a golden sovereign and asked them to aim at his heart. He died on his 35th birthday.
Max’s death was at first kept from Charlotte. When she was told, she appeared relieved rather than devastated. By now, she had sunk into complete insanity. She even imagined that she was a man and gave herself a name – Charles Loysel.
Apparently, Charlotte was pregnant when she returned to Europe on her own. The child was conceived in Chapultepec, Mexico by Colonel Van der Smissen, an officer in the Belgian voluntary
army in Mexico. The baby was taken away from her and later, in murky and unexplained circumstances, was included in the Brussels Civil Register under the name Maxime Weygand. He
went on to make an excellent career in the army.
At the end of her long life, Charlotte used to take the young daughter of a servant to church. She said, “You must pray for me a great deal because I am so very unhappy”.
In 1869, Leopold II sent his sister to live in Tervuren castle. She lived there for ten years until it burned down. Leopold then purchased Castle Bouchout in Meise to house his insane sister. She was shut off from the outside world and survived the First World War.
Charlotte died in 1927 at a ripe old age. Her final resting place was the Royal Crypt in Laken.
Bouchout Castle is still intact and can be admired in the lovely botanical gardens in Meise.
BWC Golf Update
Great Golf Despite Winter Weather
By Carol J
The weather at the end of January and beginning of February was not good for golf. Courses were closed during the mornings and even whole days because of the heavy frost and very cold conditions.
Our Club had some administrative changes for February. Janice, our very hard-working Competitions Secretary was away on a well-earned holiday in Australia to see family. Ester took over from her and did a great job keeping us all informed of new 2023 Golf Rules, our upcoming competitions and encouraging us to sign up in spite of the winter weather.
The Winter 9-hole competition at Bercuit went ahead with three brave ladies (Ester, Joyce and Suzanne).
The next fixture was a morning at the Top Tracer at Louvain-la-Neuve organised by Ester. The Top Tracer is fun. We play balls from the practice range as if we were on a golf course. We can select any course from a huge list worldwide and register it on the computer in our practice bay. Cameras on the roof follow the balls and register the shots on the computer. It is an excellent way to practise and have fun at the same time. Just to make the event even better, Ester provided us with non-stop coffee and delicious brownies all morning.
Sad news for us but great news for Ester: she has been offered a wonderful job as Events and Social Organiser at Golf d’Aro in Catalunya starting in March. She is happy to be closer to her family and is also looking forward to a very challenging job. We all wish her well. In the meantime, Gosia has kindly accepted to take over the organising of the Winter Trainings at Louvain-la-Neuve and Kampenhout.
We were very surprised that the Winter 9-hole at Ravenstein went ahead, given the muddy condition of the course. In order to protect the grass, we had to play each stroke off a small 40cm x 35cm plastic mat. Out of 6 sign-ups, only 4 entered their cards and so no prizes were awarded. However, the scores will be noted and a winner over all the Winter 9 – Hole competitions will win a prize.
Our Spring KO was due to start on 1 March but so far, we do not have enough ladies signing up. It would be a shame to cancel the Knock-Out, but we need 8 participants in each of the two categories.
Up to now we only have 11.
We hope that the burgeoning daffodils and hyacinths will be reflected in increased sign-ups and enthusiasm for future fixtures!
Get ready for our Spring Market!
By Gillian S
The first major Club fundraising event of 2023, the Spring Market, is coming up fast. It will be held on Saturday 25 March from 10:00- 14:00 at the Clubhouse.
It’s the perfect place to find some very special gifts and especially great bargains! Check out our unique hand-made jewellery and crafts, home-made cakes, marmalades and jams,
English books (adult and children), Easter decorations, plus plant and garden items. And our brocante stall is not to be missed!
Our Area Coordinators and Events Planning Team (EPT) held a combined meeting on 16 January to go through all of the logistics and can confirm the following stalls and activities on
the ground and first floors:
• Brocante/Bric à Brac – Areas 2 and 6
• Plants and Garden items – Areas 3 and 5
• Jams/Preserves/Marmalades – Area 4
• English Books (for both Adults and Children) – Areas 3 and 5
• Jewellery – Claire G and Kathy W with both donated and hand-made pieces
• Crafts – Elaine B and the Crafts Group
• Gifts – Catriona C
• Non-stop Café run by Eileen C and her team
We do need your help to make this event a success, be it by helping with the set-up, staffing the stalls or clearing away afterwards, and with donations. Your Area Coordinator will be in
touch with you (if they haven’t already done so) to see how you can help.
In particular, we need donations for the Brocante/Bric à Brac, English Books, Jewellery and Gifts stalls, so please see whether you have some items you could donate.
We also need your help to spread the word. Kathy W will be organising the distribution of flyers around the local area from week beginning 13 March. We can also provide A4 posters
for you to put up in places that English speakers frequent. Just let us know by emailing email@example.com.
In the meantime, Annie D, Gillian S and Lilian E will be emailing posters and announcements to various international organisations and online events calendars.
Any questions? Send an mail to the firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox, which is monitored by the Weekly News Team, Lilian and Gillian. We promise to answer promptly!
Lychees and Mandarin Ice
By Jane K
A very simple recipe which was a great success at this year’s Chinese New Year Lunch at the Clubhouse on 8 February.
• 600g tin (567g at Colruyt) lychees
• 250g sugar
• 500 g (500ml) water
• 2 x 315g tins mandarin segments
• 1 tbs Grand Marnier
• 65ml fresh lemon juice
1. Put sugar and water in pan and bring to boil, uncovered, over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Simmer briskly for 3 minutes and set aside to cool.
2. Place first tin of mandarins in blender/food processor, add lemon juice and Grand Marnier and blend till smooth.
3. Stir fruit and syrup together until completely mixed and pour into tray/ice cream container.
4. When cooled place in freezer, occasionally stirring the frozen sides into the more liquid middle.
5. To serve, place 4 or 5 lychees in each bowl, spoon over the water ice, and decorate with mandarin segments from the second tin.
This so easy, use your imagination to think up other combinations!
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