Historical novelist Marie Benedict to speak at Sumter County Museum on new WWII-era story

BY KAYLA ROBINS
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 12/16/18

The author of a historical novel following the famous American movie star Hedy Lamarr and her close encounters with Nazi Germany in Austria will speak at a luncheon in Sumter in the new year.

Marie Benedict is scheduled to sign copies of her book …

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Historical novelist Marie Benedict to speak at Sumter County Museum on new WWII-era story

Posted

The author of a historical novel following the famous American movie star Hedy Lamarr and her close encounters with Nazi Germany in Austria will speak at a luncheon in Sumter in the new year.

Marie Benedict is scheduled to sign copies of her book titled "The Only Woman in the Room" at Sumter County Museum on Jan. 14 at noon.

Based on extensive research, Benedict's story tells the journey of Austrian-Jewish-born Hedwig Kiesler who became the movie star Lamarr, according to a news release from the museum. As tensions mount in Austria toward a forced union with Nazi Germany, young Hedy marries Friedrich (Fritz) Mandl, a wealthy Austrian armaments manufacturer and dealer with ties to Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.

In the novel, Mandl exploits his wife as a showpiece hostess at elaborate occasions where she is privy to discussions of secret military plans and weapons use. But when Hitler is invited to dinner, she is banned from the feast.

Eavesdropping, she learns the dictator plans to remove Jews from German society.

"The author expertly develops the complexities in Hedy's character as she plans her escape," wrote Annie Rivers, executive director of the museum, in the release.

Sailing to New York, Hedy negotiates a contract with Louis B. Mayer of MGM Studio. While she becomes a star, the novel depicts her guilt over not revealing her knowledge of Hitler's plans before the war escalated. When she learns German torpedoes have sunk the SS City of Benares that was evacuating innocent children to Canada, Hedy becomes determined to assist the Allies.

She starts to lead a double life between movie sets and secret collaborating with composer George Antheil to develop a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes to block jamming by the enemy.

As in real life, they are granted a patent, but Hedy's beauty blinds U.S. Navy officials to her sharp, scientific mind.

Benedict dreamed of unearthing hidden stories of women while working as an attorney after graduation from Boston University School of Law, the release said, a vision fulfilled in her historical novels.

Besides her newest work, Benedict has authored "The Other Einstein" and "Carnegie's Maid."

Tickets to the luncheon and book signing are $35 for members and $40 for the public. Interested participants can call (803) 775-0908 to reserve a ticket or go to the museum's website at www.sumtercountymuseum.org.