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Hedy Lamarr

Real name: Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler
Birthdate: November 9, 1913
Status: Single
Partner: N/A

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Biography

Fritz Mandl (1933-1937)Gene Markey (1939-1941)John Loder (1943-1947)Teddy Stauffer (1951-1952)W. Howard Lee (1953-1960)Lewis J. Boies (1963-1965) (separated 1964)Children

Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1913 – January 19, 2000) was an Austrian-born American Jewish actress and communications technology innovator. Though known primarily for her great beauty and her successful film career, she also co-invented the first form of spread spectrum, a key to modern wireless communication.

Lamarr was born as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria. While married to her first husband, Friedrich Mandl, aka Fritz Mandl Budde, an arms manufacturer, she became educated technically in her husband's business. Mandl was 13 years older than Lamarr.

Lamarr had already appeared in several European films, including Ecstasy (1933), A Czech film, in which she played a love-hungry young wife of an indifferent old husband. Closeups of her face in orgasm, and long shots of her running nude through the woods, gave the film notoriety. (In reality, the looks of passion were looks of pain, as the director poked her with a pin to get the desire effect.) (Robert Osbourne, TCM) Mandl bought up as many copies of the film as he could possibly find, as he objected to her nudity, as well as "the expression on her face."

In Hollywood, she was usually cast as glamorous and seductive. Her many films include Algiers (1938), White Cargo (1942), and Tortilla Flat (1942), based on the novel by John Steinbeck. In 1941 she was cast alongside two other Hollywood beauties, Lana Turner and Judy Garland in the musical extravaganza Ziegfeld Girl.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Hedy Lamarr has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Blvd.

Hedy Lamarr (under her then-married name of Hedy Kiesler Markey) and composer George Antheil received U.S. Patent 2,292,387  for their Secret Communication System on August 11, 1942. This early version of frequency hopping used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam.

This idea was controversial and ahead of its time and technology. The technology was not implemented until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba, after the patent had expired. Neither Lamarr nor Antheil (who died in 1959) made any money from the patent. Perhaps due to this lag in development, the patent was little-known until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Lamarr an award for this contribution.

In 2003, the Boeing corporation ran a series of recruitment ads featuring Hedy Lamarr as a woman of science. No reference to her film career was made in the ads.

In 2005, the first Inventor's Day in German-speaking countries was held in her honor on November 9, on what would have been her 92nd birthday.



 


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