Since some of the following sounds unlikely and Other Men's Flowers is sometimes suspected of adopting a less than serious attitude to the truth I must preface this note by firmly attesting to its accuracy; if you doubt it there is always Google.
George Antheil, born in Trenton, PA, bounced into Europe in the twenties as a precocious pianist, playing his own avant-garde compositions in several major cities. They provoked mild enthusiasm and sometimes riots; he took to having the doors locked and keeping a pistol on top of the piano.
Such works as Ballet Mécanique, scored for pianola with amplifier, two pianos, wooden and metal aircraft propellers, tam-tam, three bass drums and a fire siren, became hugely popular, but Antheil's reputation in France declined and in 1927 he took his masterpiece to New York, where it was performed under the baton of Eugene Goossens; it now featured ten pianos, one played by Aaron Copland. Sadly, the publicity had led the audience to believe that they were in for a bit of fun, and when the wind driving the propellers hit the audience, blowing off hats and toupees, and the fire siren, cranked up too late for its cue, didn't stop when it was meant to, many New Yorkers collapsed with laughter or left the hall.
Back in Paris, Antheil was out of fashion, though he had some success with an opera, Transatlantic, about a US presidential election. He returned to the USA, broke, in 1933 and turned his hand to various ways of making money, writing a lonely-hearts column with his wife, studying endocrinology and writing articles about glands for Esquire, and then went to Hollywood where he produced thirty-three much admired film scores.
So far, then, a fairly conventional sort of life. In 1942, however, it took a turn for the unusual when he collaborated with the sex-goddess film star Hedy Lamarr in designing a radio-controlled torpedo which they patented. It never actually went into production, but the principle of frequency-hopping on which it was based has various uses today in modems, satellite transmissions and mobile phones. In 1997 the US military revealed that the Lamarr-Antheil device was the basis for their secure communications system.
A survey in 1947 found Antheil to be one of the most performed US composers, so I am ashamed that until yesterday I had never heard of him. But I wish I had been at the Carnegie Hall concert in 1927, and I much enjoyed reading his story.