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

Became a naturalized citizen of the United States on 10 April 1953.

Hedy Lamarr Quotes

Early career in Europe

She was born as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austrian Empire, to Emil Kiesler, a bank director, and Gertrud née Lichtwitz, pianist. Though part Jewish, she was raised as Catholic, and studied ballet and piano. When working with Max Reinhardt in Berlin, he called her the "most beautiful woman in Europe". Soon, the teenage girl played major roles in German movies, alongside stars like Heinz Rühmann and Hans Moser.

In early 1933, she starred in Symphonie der Liebe or Ecstasy, a Czechoslovak film made in Prague, 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.

On 10 August 1933 she married Friedrich Mandl, a Vienna-based arms manufacturer, 13 years her senior. The Austrian fascist bought up as many copies of the film as he could possibly find, as he objected to her nudity and "the expression on her face" (the looks of passion were the result of the director poking her in the bottom with a safety pin[2]). He prevented her from pursuing her acting career, and instead took her to meetings with technicians and business partners. In these meetings, the mathematically-talented Lamarr learned about military technology. Otherwise, she had to stay at castle Schwarzenau. She ran away in 1937. also see: Jewish Women

Movie career in Hollywood

First she went to Paris, then met Louis B. Mayer in London. After he hired her, at his insistence she changed her name to Hedy Lamarr, choosing the surname in homage to a famously beautiful film star of the silent era, Barbara LaMarr, who had died of tuberculosis and nephritis in 1926.

In Hollywood, she was usually cast as glamorous and seductive. Her American debut was in Algiers (1938). Her many films include Boom Town (1940), White Cargo (1942), and Tortilla Flat (1942), based on the novel by John Steinbeck. White Cargo, one of Lamarr's biggest hits at MGM, contains arguably her most famous film quote, "I am Tondelayo". In 1941, she was cast alongside two other Hollywood beauties, Lana Turner and Judy Garland in the musical extravaganza Ziegfeld Girl.

She made 18 films 1940-1949 even though she had two children during that time (1945, 1947). She left MGM in 1945; Lamarr enjoyed her biggest success as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah, the highest-grossing film of 1949, with Victor Mature as the Biblical strongman. However, following her comedic turn opposite Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951), her career went into decline. She appeared only sporadically in films after 1950, one of her last roles being that of Joan of Arc in Irwin Allen's critically panned epic The Story of Mankind (1957).

The publication of her autobiography Ecstasy and Me (1967) took place about a year after accusations of shoplifting, and a year after Andy Warhol's short film Hedy (1966), also known as The Shoplifter. The controversy surrounding the shoplifting charges coincided with an aborted return to the screen in Picture Mommy Dead (1966). The role was ultimately filled by Zsa Zsa Gabor.

In the ensuing years, Lamarr retreated from public life, and settled in Florida. She returned to the headlines in 1991 when the 78 year old former actress was again accused of shoplifting, although charges were eventually dropped.

Lamarr became a naturalized citizen of the United States on April 10, 1953.

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

Frequency-hopped spread spectrum invention

Avant garde composer George Antheil, a son of German immigrants and neighbor of Lamarr, had experimented with automated control of instruments. Together, he and Lamarr submitted the idea of a Secret Communication System in June 1941. On 11 August 1942, U.S. Patent 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and Hedy Kiesler Markey. 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.

The idea was impractical, ahead of its time, and not feasible due to the state of mechanical technology in 1942. It was not implemented in the USA until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba,[4] 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.

Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology used in devices ranging from cordless telephones to WiFi Internet connections, namely CDMA. Similar patents had been granted to others earlier, like in Germany in 1935 to Telefunken engineers Paul Kotowski and Kurt Dannehl who also received U.S. Patent 2,158,662 and U.S. Patent 2,211,132 in 1939 and 1940.

Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but she was told that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell War Bonds. She once raised $7,000,000 at just one event.

In May 2008, playwright Elyse Singer was slated to premiere a new play in New York City, Frequency Hopping, about Antheil and Lamarr's frequency-hopping invention. See Paul Lehrman's website antheil.org on Antheil for more information.

Death

Lamarr died in Altamonte Springs, Florida (near Orlando) on January 19, 2000. Her son Anthony Loder took her ashes to Vienna and spread them in the Wienerwald, according to her wishes.

Legacy

In 1998, a vector illustration of Lamarr's face was used by Corel Corporation on the packaging and in the publicity for its CorelDRAW 8 software. Lamarr retained Attorney Michael McDonnell and sued Corel for damages relating to unauthorized use of her likeness. The case was resolved in 1999 and settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, under terms that allowed Corel five years of exclusive rights to the image.

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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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Hedy Lamarr.