Czech filmmaker Gustav Machaty gained an international reputation for his highly acclaimed erotic films, most notably Erotikon (1929) and Extase (1933). Machaty started in films during his teens, playing piano at movie houses. He was 17 when he made his acting debut and only one year later became a director. During the early '20s, he worked in Hollywood for four years as an apprentice for D.W. Griffith and Erich von Stroheim before going back to Prague to make his own films. In addition to his films, Machaty made one other major contribution to cinema in his film Extase when he introduced the world to Hedy Lamarr (originally Hedy Kiesier), a rare beauty who became one of the most glamorous stars in Hollywood. In the latter part of Machaty's career, he directed films in Italy, Austria, Germany, and the U.S., but none of these films did well at the box office.