Interesting Facts About Hedy Lamarr: Actress and Inventor

Hedy Lamarr (9 November 1914 to 19 January 2000) was an Austrian and American inventor and film actress. She co-invented the technology for frequency hopping which was important for controlling torpedoes.
She was born in 1914 in Vienna and was the only child of Gertrud and Emil Kiesler. She began her film career in 1933 at the age of 18 by starring in an Austrian film titled “Ecstasy”.
In the film, she played the role of a neglected housewife, and became famous for doing extremely explicit scenes which was unheard of in the conservative industry at that time.
She was the first woman to act out an orgasm in a non-pornographic film. At that time she was married to a munitions manufacturer named Friedrich Mandl. Mandl was the third richest man in Austria at that time and Lamarr had married him at the age of 19. Mandl objected to the film and said that it was an exploitation of his wife.
Although some may recognise Lamarr, particularly because she was once named ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’, little is known of her life outside of her film career.
Here’s NINE things you didn’t know about Lamarr:
1. Hedy Lamarr was a well-known actress in the 1930s and 40s, but she also invented “frequency hopping” — the basis for wireless technology today. Today, the invention is fundamental to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth technology, and other wireless networks.
2. After her emigration to the US, she developed a system which manipulated radio frequencies at irregular intervals to encode classified military messages.
3. Her husband made his fortune in munitions and took her to conferences with scientists and other researchers in the field of military technology, where she developed an interest in applied science.
4. In collaboration with composer George Antheil, Lamarr patented a “Secret Communication System” designed to keep Nazis from intercepting Allied transmissions during World War II.
5. The idea wasn’t adopted at the time, in part due to skepticism that an actress could contribute to technology.
When Lamarr and Antheil approached the National Inventors’ Council to present their device, they were rebuffed. The council suspected it would be too cumbersome to implement the communication system in military crafts.
She was also rebuffed in her direct attempts to help the war effort. When she offered her expertise in wartime technology to the council, she was denied. They suggested that the “most beautiful woman in films” could make a bigger difference by acting as a spokeswoman for war bonds.
6. Lamarr received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, but it wasn’t until 2014—fourteen years after her death—that she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
7. Lamarr was billed as an unknown but well-publicized Austrian actress, which created anticipation in audiences. Mayer hoped she would become another Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich. According to one viewer, when her face first appeared on the screen, “everyone gasped…Lamarr’s beauty literally took one’s breath away.”
8. Lamarr’s earliest inventions included an improved traffic stoplight and a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated drink. The beverage was unsuccessful; Lamarr herself said it tasted like Alka-Seltzer.
9. In 1966, Lamarr was arrested in Los Angeles for shoplifting. The charges were eventually dropped. She was arrested on the same charge in Florida, in 1991. This time for stealing $21.48 worth of laxatives and eye drops. She pleaded “no contest” to avoid a court appearance, and the charges were once again dropped in return for a promise to refrain from breaking any laws for a year.

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