Is beauty a burden? Celebrity a distraction? “American Masters” presents “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” (8 p.m., PBS, TV-14), a profile of one of the most beautiful movie stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age. In addition to turning heads in everything from “Algiers” to “Samson and Delilah,” Lamarr lived a secret life as an inventor and amateur scientist, patenting a radio guidance system during World War II for torpedoes designed to defeat German jamming efforts.
While her invention was shelved by condescending Navy brass, the technology behind it was employed by the military in the 1960s and influenced such 21st-century applications as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, she was influenced by the cosmopolitan city’s arts scene and ventured into films as a teenager. Her brief nudity and apparent rapture in the 1933 film “Ecstasy” scandalized the world, and it forever marked her as a mere sex symbol even after she departed Europe for Hollywood and adopted the screen name Lamarr.
“Bombshell” details Lamarr’s collaboration with avant-garde musical composer George Antheil on her wartime inventions as well as the resistance to the idea that someone so beautiful could be taken seriously as a scientist.
The film goes on to catalog Lamarr’s decades of mistakes, financial troubles and her descent into drug addiction, which stemmed from the Hollywood studios’ abuse of stimulants and barbiturates to keep their contract players on the job.
- Martin Freeman (“Fargo”) stars in the 2017 zombie apocalypse thriller “Cargo” (TV-MA), streaming today on Netflix.
Royal wedding specials
- “Harry and Meghan: A Love Story” (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG) reviews the courtship of a cable star and a Windsor heir.
- “Prince Harry: Wild No More” (7 p.m., TLC, TV-PG) recalls past mischief and more recent domestication.
- I’m just assuming “Dateline” (8 p.m., NBC) might be wedding-related.
- “Harry and Meghan: A Very Modern Romance” (8 p.m., BBC America, TV-PG) is not to be confused with “Meghan Markle: A Royal Love Story” (8:02 p.m., TLC, TV-PG).
- “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) discusses Prince Harry’s relationships with his mother, Diana, and his fiancee.
- “Prince Harry’s Story: Four Royal Weddings” (9 p.m., National Geographic, TV-14) surveys the groom’s growth.
- “Secrets of the Royal Wedding” (9 p.m., TLC, TV-PG) handicaps the big events, anticipating traditional touches and departures from the norm.
- “Royal Wedding Watch” (9:30 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) wraps up its glance at tradition and protocol.
- Jane and Weller take Roman back to his origins on the recently renewed “Blindspot” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- A winner emerges on the season finale of “MasterChef: Junior” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).
- Regina tries to stop Rumple on the series ender of “Once Upon a Time” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
- A spy ring may be linked to the arrival of a Russian sub on “Hawaii Five-0” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
- The fate of the Earth hangs in the balance (again) on the just renewed “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
Idina Menzel appears on “Undercover Boss: Celebrity Edition” (7 p.m., CBS) ... Unexpected stirrings on “Life Sentence” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
© 2018 United Feature Synd.