GOOD MORNING: Hedy Lamarr a force for the U.S. in Afghanistan? True, Lamarr, one of the movies’ most beautiful women , was also the creator of the formula from which the modern wireless world has evolved. Most remembered, of course, for her starring role in “Ecstasy” when she was a 17-year-old Viennese, she married Fritz Mandl, a supplier of tanks and torpedoes to Adolf Hitler. As his wife, Hedy was privy to Nazi military meetings and secrets, which later led to systems for radio controls of our current war machinery in Afghanistan as well as the $28 billion satellite systems. She developed the “frequency happening” system with composer George Anthiel. (And that’s a story in itself!) They gave their invention to the US. government — without asking any payment as their contribution to defeat Hitler. Their secret was kept for 40 years after which their patents had expired. The duo received several honors from the government and electronic associations. And now her life story is coming to the screen as “Ecstasy II,” scripted by Mel Shavelson, her son Anthony Loder as one of the producers and Juergen Prochnow (“Das Boot”) directing. “One of the ironies of her story,” Loder told me, “was in the last years of her life she was fatally upset about her court battle with Gallo wine over use of a clip from ‘Algiers’ showing Hedy and Charles Boyer.” She lost the court case but the appeal goes on with her estate. Shavelson first met Lamarr when he was writing (with partner Jack Rose) at Paramount and Lamarr was starring with Bob Hope in “My Favorite Spy.”
GUESS WHO’S NOT GOING to the Liza Minnelli-David Gest wedding? Esther Williams. Williams, asked to be a bridesmaid, attended the shower given Liza in L.A. two weeks ago. At that time, Williams asked the bride-to-be-again “What will we (the bridesmaids) be wearing — pink or –?” “Basic black” was the response. Williams wondered, “Is this a wedding or a funeral?” Well, to make a long story longer, Williams at her church services this past Sunday, discussed whether she should go to the event. The decision was — no … Meanwhile, in N.Y. today, Denise Rich is giving Liza a shower with these ladies expected to attend: Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, Natalie Cole, Donna Summer, etc. Rich was to have showered Liza last week but Minnelli suddenly got a call to do a gig in Montclair, N.J., the details of which were not revealed … Rich has been busy herself, commuting to L.A. for the Grammys and to support her daughter Daniella Feenix, one of the talented youngsters in the “Worldly Acts” company at the Tiffany — one-acters originally published in Francis Coppola’s Zoetrope magazine. Young Feenix (a look alike of her mom, Denise, and also daughter of Marc Rich) has taken on the name of Feenix as in “risen from the ashes,” she smilingly admits. With a background of plays in N.Y., she now plans to pursue her career in L.A. … And on Monday, Denise also celebrated the success of daughter Ilona (Rich) who was a winner of a Michaels Fashion Award as best new designer of the year. Meanwhile, mama’s tune, “The Voice Inside My Heart” (with Aaron Zigman and Brook Walsh) is the end title of “John Q.” … Joining “Worldly Acts” for its final weekend is Elaine Hendrix, who replaces another second generation thesp, Jennifer Grant … Coming Saturday to the Tiffany is “Talking Heads,” closing March 30 with Annette Bening, Kathleen Chalfant, Tyne Daly, Daniel Davis, Swoosie Kurtz, Valerie Mahaffey and Brenda Wehle. Afterwards, the Tiffany itself closes — to be demolished as the site is expected to be converted to a high-rise on the Sunset Strip. Stay tuned.
IT’S TIME TO PLAY BALL AGAIN on “Arli$$” as Robert Wuhl launches his seventh HBO season (its longest running series) with guestar James Coburn playing a “Joe DiMaggio-esque” character, Slaughterhouse Sid Perelli, in his final retirement period. Also a seg with Keith Carradine as basketball team owner who’s having an affair with one of the team’s cheerleaders — with Arli$$ playing his beard … Darryl Hannah, who stars with Quentin Tarantino in “Kill Bill,” will segue to join John Sayles in “Casa de los Babies” … Connie Stevens received Saturday the Army’s Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service medal from Gen. Kevin Burns … Cliff Robertson, in L.A. to loop “Spiderman,” is now en route to Vail, Colo., for the American Ski Classic benefitting the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, the event hosted by President Gerald Ford. Robertson skis in the Ford Cup slalom race … Elton John receives the Courage Award from Saks Fifth Ave. and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at “An Unforgettable Evening,” March 26 at the BevWilshire. The C-S Research for Women’s Cancers benefits. The evening’s dedicated to Renette Ezralow, one of the founders, who passed away from ovarian cancer Jan. 12. … The Motion Picture and TV’s Screen Smart Set luncheon today at the BevHills Hotel’s private Polo dining room toasting Madame Wu, who will sign copies of her new book, “Madame Wu’s Garden.” On April 6, Madame Wu’s Asian Bistro bows in the Grove, the new addition to the Farmer’s Market. This night benefits the City of Hope Cancer Center … Emmy winner Fyvush Finkel and wife Trudi celebrate their 55th wedding anni Friday — he’s working all week on David E. Kelley’s “Boston Public.”