Hedy Lamarr: Austrian-American Inventor and Actress

“I know when I’m working I seldom get into trouble. My educated guess is that boredom has caused most of the problems with Hollywood celebrities.” -Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, born in Vienna, Austria in 1914 and was a renowned actress and inventor for her time, considered to be “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman,” and rather infamously known because of her acting role at age 18 in the 1933 Czech film, Ecstasy, the first film scene portraying female pleasure. Her first husband, who she was married to at the time, Friedrich Mandl, strongly objected to the scene and Lamarr described him as keeping her ‘prisoner’ in their home and preventing her from more actively pursuing her acting career. This may have been true, but Hedy still managed to act in 30 films over a 28 year career. She divorced Mandl in 1937.

The film Ecstasy gained world recognition after winning an award in Rome. The film was banned in the U.S. for being considered overly sexual. Beyond her acting career, Hedy was a trailblazer in every facet of her life. She co-invented an early version of frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication for torpedo guidance. Today, the concept is used in various Bluetooth technology and the technology is a similar version to methods used in legacy versions of Wi-Fi. The concept she invented was an early stage idea for Wi-Fi.

Hedy was likely a genius. She had no formal training and was self-taught. In her spare time, she worked on inventions including an improved traffic stoplight and a tablet that would dissolve in water for a carbonated drink (same concept as Alka-Seltzer). We don’t know everything that Hedy invented. Howard Hughes was aware of her inventiveness and she suggested to him to change the shape of his airplanes to a streamlined shaped (instead of being somewhat square). Hughes provided her with teams of scientists to assist her in her ideas coming to fruition.

The patent document for Hedy’s torpedo invention. While denied for use by the US Navy at the time, they did adapt the design during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, which were installed on Navy ships.

Hedy married six times and had three children. She remained unmarried for the last 35 years of her life. Her autobiography was published in 1965. She sued the publishers in 1966 for allegedly fabricating facts about her life in the book, but she lost the lawsuit. By the 1970s, Hedy was living in seclusion and she settled in Miami Beach, Florida in 1981. She died of heart disease in Florida in 2000 at age 85. She was cremated and her ashes were spread in the Vienna Woods. Hedy was a prolific woman.

Source: Wikipedia

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