In response to last week's Crave UK's "Top ten girl geeks" feature, and inspired by Wired's invitation this week to submit nominees for the Sexiest Geek of 2006, I propose someone who'd be a shoo-in, if only they'd extend the list to include non-2006 players.
How much sexier can you get than a woman who started her professional life in a minor, scandalous film and eventually went on to invent the technology that enables modern encrypted satellite communications and cell phone operations, stopping along the way to escape Nazis and engineer a hugely successful Hollywood career?
Hedy Lamarr. Stunning good looks and the classic come-hither bedroom gaze were just the beginning of her story. First, after beginning her acting career in a vaguely naughty Czech film, she became an influential Viennese socialite, hobnobbing and listening closely to heads of state and military officials. Said to have smuggled herself out of Austria and a bad marriage to a Nazi munitions dealer, Lamarr then negotiated a contract with Louis B. Mayer and launched a gigantic career in Hollywood films.
Prioritizing intelligence over looks, but obviously unafraid of using either asset to her advantage, she famously advised: "Any girl can be glamorous--All she has to do is stand still and look stupid."
She and composer-filmmaker George Antheil later patented the radio "frequency hopping" torpedo guidance technology that would later play a role in our modern cell phone revolution and encrypted defense-satellite control system. Toward the end of her life, Electronic Frontier Foundation gave her an award for the invention.
Amazing brains, persistent beauty, incredible chutzpah and astonishing courage. Who wouldn't rank her among the top?