Famous for his Ballet Mecanique and other works of avant-garde orchestral music, Antheil is also remembered for composing close to thirty motion picture scores, including that of the 1955 expressionist film noir feature Dementia.
In his late teens, he began studying at the Philadelphia Settlement Music School under the patronage of Mary Louise Curtis Bok.
He published a 1945 autobiography titled The Bad Boy of Music.
Raised in Trenton, New Jersey, by German-born parents, he later lived and worked in Berlin, Paris, and Los Angeles. His brother, American diplomat Henry W. Antheil, Jr., died when the airplane in which he was traveling was shot down over the Baltic Sea in 1940.
In the early 1940s, Antheil and film star Hedy Lamarr co-invented a code transmission communications device that used the newly-developed frequency hopping technique.