Hedy Lamarr: Actress and Inventor who changed the world of technology

Estimated read time 5 min read
eBay, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
BornHedwig Eva Maria Kiesler
November 9, 1914
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
DiedJanuary 19, 2000 (aged 85)
Casselberry, Florida, U.S.
CitizenshipAustria (1914−1938)
United States (1953−2000)
SpousesFritz Mandl
​(m. 1933; div. 1937)​
Gene Markey
​(m. 1939; div. 1941)​
John Loder
​(m. 1943; div. 1947)​
Teddy Stauffer
​(m. 1951; div. 1952)​
W. Howard Lee
​(m. 1953; div. 1960)​
Lewis J. Boies
​(m. 1963; div. 1965)​

Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress and inventor who made significant contributions to the development of wireless communication technologies. Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November 9, 1914, in Vienna, Austria, Lamarr began her acting career in Europe before moving to Hollywood in the 1930s.

Lamarr quickly became a star of the silver screen, known for her beauty, talent, and charisma. She appeared in numerous films throughout the 1940s and 1950s, including “Algiers” (1938), “Ziegfeld Girl” (1941), and “Samson and Delilah” (1949). Despite her success as an actress, Lamarr was always interested in science and technology, and during World War II, she used her knowledge and resources to help the Allied forces in the fight against the Nazis.

Together with composer George Antheil, Lamarr developed a radio guidance system for torpedoes that used frequency hopping to prevent the enemy from jamming the signal. The technology, which they called “spread spectrum,” laid the foundation for modern wireless communication systems, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

Despite the groundbreaking nature of Lamarr’s invention, she did not receive recognition for her work until later in life. In 1997, she and Antheil were awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award, and in 2014, Lamarr was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

In terms of wealth, Lamarr made a fortune as a Hollywood actress during the peak of her career. However, she also struggled with financial troubles later in life, due in part to her tumultuous personal life and legal battles. She died on January 19, 2000, at the age of 85.

Despite the challenges she faced, Lamarr’s legacy as both an actress and an inventor continues to inspire people around the world. Her contributions to the field of wireless communication have had a profound impact on modern technology, and her determination to pursue her passions in both science and the arts serves as a model for future generations.

Here is a timeline of Hedy Lamarr’s life:

1914 – Hedy Lamarr is born as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November 9 in Vienna, Austria.

1930 – Lamarr drops out of school to pursue a career in acting. She lands a small role in the film “Geld auf der Straße.”

1933 – Lamarr appears in her first major film role in “Ecstasy,” which includes controversial scenes of nudity and sexuality.

1937 – Lamarr marries Fritz Mandl, a wealthy Austrian arms manufacturer who sells weapons to the Nazis. She later describes him as controlling and abusive.

1938 – Lamarr flees Austria and travels to Hollywood, where she signs a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).

1940 – Lamarr stars in the film “Boom Town,” which is a critical and commercial success.

1942 – Lamarr and composer George Antheil develop a radio guidance system for torpedoes that uses frequency hopping to prevent jamming by the enemy. The invention is granted a patent, but is not immediately implemented by the US Navy.

1949 – Lamarr stars in the biblical epic “Samson and Delilah,” which is one of the highest-grossing films of the year.

1950s – Lamarr’s film career begins to decline, and she appears in fewer movies.

1966 – Lamarr is arrested for shoplifting in Los Angeles.

1983 – Lamarr is inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1997 – Lamarr and Antheil are awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award for their invention of frequency hopping.

2000 – Lamarr dies on January 19 in Casselberry, Florida, at the age of 85.

2014 – Lamarr is posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her work on frequency hopping.

5 interesting facts about Hedy Lamarr:

  1. Hedy Lamarr was not only an actress, but also an inventor. During World War II, she co-invented a frequency-hopping technology that paved the way for modern wireless communication.
  2. Lamarr was considered one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, and was often referred to as “the most beautiful woman in the world.”
  3. Despite her success as an actress, Lamarr faced sexism and discrimination in the male-dominated film industry. She once said, “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”
  4. Lamarr was married six times, and had several high-profile romances with men like Howard Hughes and Orson Welles.
  5. In addition to her work in film and technology, Lamarr was also an accomplished pianist and composer.

5 quotes from Hedy Lamarr:

  1. “I have been through two wars and have seen what hate can do. It is the most terrible thing. I have seen cities destroyed and babies thrown into fires. I have seen it all and I don’t want to see it again.”
  2. “I am not ashamed to say that no man I ever met was my father’s equal, and I never loved any other man as much.”
  3. “The world isn’t getting any easier. With all these new inventions I believe that people are hurried more and pushed more… The hurried way is not the right way; you need time for everything – time to work, time to play, time to rest.”
  4. “If you use your imagination, you can look at any actress and see her nude… I hope to make you use your imagination.”
  5. “I’ve been a fighter all my life. I was born with this fighting spirit. I’m very tenacious, very determined, very stubborn, but I’m also very passionate about what I do.”

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