#3. A Romance Novelist Invented Military Gliders
There's a chance you'll have heard of Barbara Cartland, but unless you're female and over the age of 40, there's a better chance you'll have never read anything she's ever produced. Between writing her first book in 1922 and her death in 2000, she had written 723 romance novels, making her one of the most prolific authors of all time, and all of it is the kind of stuff that has Fabio on the cover with his shirt off.
"Oh, Dukey! Burying the body parts of giants makes me so horny I am like to swoon."
Somewhere in between writing a novel for just about every month of her entire life, Cartland somehow found time to have hobbies. Her personal interest was gliding, and she was so proficient that she designed a glider that could be towed by an airplane, which she then flew in for over 200 miles over the south coast of England.
On the way, she was ravished over 50 times by windswept and moody aristocrats.
This being back in the days when nasty things were brewing in Berlin, the British military was looking for ways to spruce up their defenses, and they discovered some useful applications for Cartland's glider designs. In particular, gliders were instrumental during campaigns like the Normandy landing, with benefits like their relative cheapness and expendability just outweighing the pants-shitting terror of flying into a war zone in an aircraft without an engine.
Later, she just threw herself off buildings and relied on the power of pink.
Cartland's designs were so instrumental for the war effort that she was granted the Bishop Wright Air Industry Award, which probably looked out of place on her mantle alongside the vaguely phallic trophies celebrating her lifetime achievement in soft-core boning.
What can we say? The woman liked her boner symbols.
#2. Julius Caesar Pioneered the Comb-Over
We probably don't need to tell you who Julius Caesar was, right? The world's most famous Roman emperor has a reputation for many things, but not really for having invented anything except a popular salad.
Among his many achievements is not being the guy who murdered his mother or made a horse a senator.
Caesar did not actually have anything to do with the Caesar salad, but he is responsible for another staple of the middle class -- the comb-over hairstyle. Just like Donald Trump, Caesar felt that unlimited money and power doesn't quite cut it when you're feeling the sting of male pattern baldness.
His hairdresser has a vomitorium.
If you've ever wondered why Caesar is so often portrayed wearing that leafy thing around his head, it's said that baldness may have been one of his reasons for doing that. However, emperor or not, there had to have been a few social occasions in which the act of wearing shrubbery on your head would have been considered somewhat eccentric. So, he also grew his hair long at the back and brushed it over the front of his head, thus creating the comb-over and the act of manipulating existing hair to present the illusion of flowing locks, which must have seemed like an impressive bit of hair sorcery at the time.
"His hair is majestic and glorious one day, but sparse and unattractive the next. WIIIIIIIIITCH!"
#1. Hedy Lamarr Gave Us Cellphones and Wi-Fi
Hedy Lamarr was one of Hollywood's biggest stars during the golden age of cinema, starring in over 35 films alongside the likes of Clark Gable, Judy Garland and Bob Hope. Most of her fame comes from the fact that she gave us one of cinema's first sex scenes, and surprisingly little attention is given to the fact that she basically invented the modern Wi-Fi and cellphone network. Because, hey, tits.
Lamarr had a secret passion for invention, and in fact, by all accounts, she was the world's sexiest mad scientist. While walking down red carpets and simulating onscreen orgasms by day, Lamarr was working in her laboratory by night. Her creations include a fluorescent dog collar and modifications to the Concorde, but most notably, she invented a torpedo guidance system that would actually go on to become the basis of all our wireless communications today.
"This massive phone makes my head look adorable. I must call the '80s and tell them."
The idea came about with help from a pianist friend of hers, George Antheil, who helped her design a system for encrypting radio signals using similar principles to a player piano, with perforated paper rolls. Their resulting creation, the unimaginatively named Secret Communication System, was patented in 1942. And if you think it sounds like an awfully primitive device for us to be calling "Wi-Fi," you're right -- but although it was cobbled together from piano parts like a Rube Goldberg machine, it was nevertheless an analogue version of what is known as "spread-spectrum communication technology," which is the basic technology behind all our wireless toys, just with more sophisticated parts.
This version was powered by her huge glowing aura.
So why aren't we celebrating Hedy Lamarr as a 1940s version of Steve Jobs? When Lamarr offered her technology to the military, the men in charge laughed and told her not to worry her pretty little head over such things, treating her piano-powered radio system like a child's attempt to build a robot out of toilet paper rolls. They told her that she could best fight Hitler by being pretty and selling war bonds. It wasn't until the 1960s and the Cuban Missile Crisis that the military looked at her invention and recognized its genius. Of course, by that time, her patent had expired. Hard luck, Hedy.
"Look, we have a quota for treating women like humans, and Barbara Cartland beat you to it."
So the next time you're having a conversation with Paris Hilton or one of the Kardashian sisters, pay close attention; that vapid-seeming celebutante just might be inventing time travel.
"Pay close attention to what Kim Kardashian says." That is the worst advice we have ever given in the history of this site.
For more celebrity hidden talents, check out 7 Celebrities Who Had Badass Careers You Didn't Know About and 11 Celebrities Who Were Secretly Total Badasses.
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