Remembering Actress and Inventor Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000)

“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”

“American men, as a group, seem to be interested in only two things, money and breasts. It seems a very narrow outlook.”

“If you use your imagination, you can look at any actress and see her nude… I hope to make you use your imagination.”

Hedy Lamarr

“We began talking about the war, which, in the late summer of 1940, was looking most extremely black. Hedy said that she did not feel very comfortable, sitting there in Hollywood and making lots of money when things were in such a state. She said that she knew a good deal about munitions and various secret weapons … and that she was thinking seriously of quitting MGM and going to Washington, DC, to offer her services to the newly established Inventors’ Council.”

 George Antheil — Composer, pianist and inventor

A 1940s shot of Lamarr, ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’

Often called “The Most Beautiful Woman in Films,” Hedy Lamarr’s beauty and screen presence made her one of the most popular actresses of her day. It is however much less known that Lamarr was also an inventor who, along with composer George Antheil, patented a frequency-hopping system during World War II that presaged Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_Today

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Hedy Lamarr — Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler (November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000) — patented an idea that later became the crutch of both secure military communications and mobile phone technology.

“In 1942, Hedy and composer George Antheil patented what they called the “Secret Communication System.”

The original idea, meant to solve the problem of enemies blocking signals from radio-controlled missiles during World War II, involved changing radio frequencies simultaneously to prevent enemies from being able to detect the messages.

While the technology of the time prevented the feasibility of the idea at first, the advent of the transistor and its later downsizing made Hedy’s idea very important to both the military and the cell phone industry.”

For their contributions, Lamarr and Antheil were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Gal Gadot to Play Actress and Inventor Hedy Lamarr

According to Hollywood rumors, Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot is nearing a deal to topline a Showtime limited series from Sarah Treem, co-creator of The Affair.

The series would chronicle the life of the Austrian-born actress who starred in Ecstasy, Samson and Delilah and other films.

“Ecstasy girl”

The actor, who was born Hedwig Kiesler in Vienna in 1914, was given her new surname by Louis B Mayer when she signed for MGM in 1937. He named her after the studio’s silent-era vamp Barbara La Marr – intending that her dark, heavy-lidded beauty should remind people of MGM’s sizzling back catalogue, not her own.

Back in Europe she had made a film that was too hot for MGM’s family-values ethos. Gustav Machaty’s Ecstasy (1933) starred a teenage Hedy as a frustrated bride who finds fulfilment in an affair with a young man: she appears completely nude and performs what is probably the first on-screen female orgasm.

Lamarr herself said that her movements in the love scene were prompted by the director shouting instructions and sticking her with a safety pin, but the effect, in this atmospheric, heavily symbolic and near-silent drama, is remarkably intense.

The film was banned in the US, but screened illicitly there for years, and no matter how many hits she had at MGM, and despite the studio’s efforts, Lamarr was frequently referred to as the “Ecstasy girl”.

Lamarr’s Patent — Invention of Spread Spectrum Technology

 

Lamarr’s patent, filed in 1941, was developed with the American composer George Antheil.

 

Lamarr’s greatest scientific triumph was intended for the US navy during the second world war, but is now used in modern wireless communication.

Her “secret communication system” used “frequency hopping” to guide radio-controlled missiles underwater in a way that was undetectable by the enemy.

It was Lamarr’s brainwave (though some say she may have first seen a sketch of a similar idea in the office of her first husband, the Austrian munitions manufacturer Fritz Mandl) and she developed it together with a friend, the composer George Antheil. The patent was granted in 1942.

Bombshell – The Hedy Lamarr Story – Official Trailer

Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr was known as the world’s most beautiful woman – Snow White and Cat Woman were both based on her iconic look. However, her arresting looks and glamorous life stood in the way of her being given the credit she deserved as an ingenious inventor whose pioneering work helped revolutionize modern communication.

Mislabelled as “just another pretty face,” Hedy’s true legacy is that of a technological trailblazer. She was an Austrian Jewish émigré who invented a covert communication system to try and help defeat the Nazis, then gave her patent to the Navy, but was ignored and told to sell kisses for war bonds instead.

It was only towards the very end of her life that tech pioneers discovered her concept which is now used as the basis for secure WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth.

Hedy never publicly talked about her life as an inventor and so her family thought her story died when she did. But in 2016, director Alexandra Dean and producer Adam Haggiag unearthed four never-before-heard audio tapes of Hedy speaking on the record about her incredible life.

REFERENCES

Gal Gadot, ‘Affair’ Co-Creator Zero in on Hedy Lamarr Series for Showtime — Hollywood Reporter

Hedy Lamarr – the 1940s ‘bombshell’ who helped invent wifi — Guardian

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Hollywood — Gal Gadot to Play Actress and Inventor Hedy Lamarr

Remembering Actress and Inventor Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000)

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