Hedy Lamarr’s invention can be considered one of the most important ones in the modern world. The woman who was known as a movie star broke all the stereotypes about women in show business.
Known as one of the most beautiful actresses in history, Hedy Lamarr is famous not only for her beauty, but her brains as well. She graced the movie screens and captivated audiences from all over the world. Not only was she a talented actress, but she also had talent in applied sciences as well.
Despite the fact that she is perhaps most famous for her riveting films, what she will ultimately always be remembered for is her innovative invention.
Hedy Lamarr’s invention, which pioneered how WiFi, Bluetooth, and other technology works today, has become one of the most important inventions of our time- even more remarkable, because it was invented by a woman, in a time when women were not supposed to have the same level of knowledge men had.
Hedy Lamarr led an interesting life that deserves to be spoken about and remembered.
Before Hedy Lamarr’s Invention
Early Life, Career and Marriage to Friedrich Mandl
Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Kiesler to Jewish parents in Vienna, Austria in 1914. While she was still a student in school, Hedy decided that she wanted to become an actress. She began to train in the theater in Berlin, Germany to begin a career in the film industry.
She starred in films throughout Germany and Czechoslovakia, beginning at the age of sixteen, her first film being Geld auf der Strasse in 1930 (Money on the Street). Eventually, at the age of eighteen, in 1933, she starred in the film Ecstasy, which essentially propelled her to stardom.
It was about a young girl married to someone much older than she, and she ends up falling in love with a young soldier. The movie was highly scandalous and even was banned in the United States and Germany, due to the fact that there are sexual scenes and ones where Hedy appears nude.
That same year, she married an Austrian arms seller, Friedrich Mandl. He was known for selling arms to the Fascist nations of Italy and Germany, but they still married despite Hedy’s Jewish background. He even held luxurious parties where some of the guests included Hitler and Mussolini.
Unfortunately, he was very controlling and abusive, and basically treated Hedy like a prisoner in their own home. He did not allow her to continue her career as an actress.
However, perhaps one of the more positive parts of their marriage was that Hedy was his guest during business meetings with military technology specialists. This was how Hedy initially understood that she had a strong talent in the applied sciences, which is what ultimately made her name immortal.
Hedy Lamarr could no longer stand being married to such a controlling man, so she fled to Paris in hopes that she could live a better and freer life. It was upon her arrival in Paris that she met Louis B. Mayer, who encouraged her to change her name from Hedwig Kiesler to the more glamorous Hedy Lamarr.
He also encouraged her to move to Hollywood and pursue a much more successful career in acting in the United States. Upon her arrival in the United States, she was promoted as being the most beautiful woman in the world.
Career and Life in America
Despite the fact that Hedy Lamarr only spoke a little bit of English, she still managed to sign a contract with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio and starred in her first American film, Algiers, in 1938. This helped to publicize her name in the United States. Her beauty absolutely captivated audiences all throughout America.
Some of her most famous films include,
- Boom Town
- Ziegfeld Girl
- Dishonored Lady
- Tortilla Flat
- White Cargo
- Samson and Delilah
- Cargo X
She starred in the majority of her films between the years of 1940 and 1949. She starred alongside some of the most famous actors and actresses of her time, including Lana Turner, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Judy Garland.
Hedy Lamarr may never have been as famous as the aforementioned actors, but she certainly was known for being beautiful in Hollywood.
Hedy Lamarr overall married six times, and had three children, all with the actor John Loder. Her children were James Lamarr Loder, Denise Loder, and Anthony Loder, all born during her most popular years in the movies. Hedy Lamarr was considered so captivatingly beautiful among American audiences, that her looks were used as inspiration for the characters of Snow White and Catwoman.
Hedy did not receive a huge amount of awards, and did not win any Academy Awards. However, some of her most important awards were getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014 on her 100th birthday.
After the film My Favorite Spy, Hedy Lamarr gradually began to cease her career in the film industry. She became a citizen of the United States in 1953.
For the last few decades of her life, Hedy Lamarr enjoyed living in seclusion, and did not have much contact with the outside world, aside from speaking to people on the telephone. She died of heart failure, chronic valvular heart disease, and arteriosclerotic heart disease in 2000.
Her life was portrayed in the documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, which was released in theaters in 2017. It was directed by Alexandra Dean, who thought that it was important to create the documentary, since many people during Hedy’s day believed that it was impossible for a woman to be both beautiful and intelligent.
Richard Rhodes also wrote her biography in 2011, which was titled “Hedy’s Folly.”
Hedy Lamarr’s Invention
Hedy Lamarr, during her time as an actress, spent much of her free time inventing and finding other hobbies. Some of her inventions were a new traffic stoplight and attempting to create a new tablet that, after being dissolved in water, would eventually create a carbonated beverage.
She enjoyed inventing, and used it as an escape to help deal with the problems she faced throughout her life. Hedy Lamarr even helped Howard Hughes to come up with a better design for his aircraft.
She was also the only woman, other than Bette Davis, to create her own production company in 1946. It is also said that she created the Aspen ski resort in Colorado, since the place was very similar to Austria and had lots of potential for skiing.
What Hedy is perhaps most famous for inventing, though, is a “Secret Communications System” which was aimed to help combat the Nazis during World War II. Hedy Lamarr learned that German naval technology was far more advanced than American or British technology, and German submarines were highly accurate.
She had learned that an essential component of the naval part of the war were the radio-controlled torpedoes. If these were at all jammed, then they would go off course.
She decided that, based on the knowledge she had from speaking with military technology specialists back in Europe, she wanted to create a frequency-hopping signal that would prevent the torpedo from being jammed or tracked.
With the help of composer George Antheil, she created a device which would help make that a reality. The invention was inspired by the remote control and the piano. Their invention formed an unbreakable code which prevented any messages from being intercepted by the enemy forces through manipulating radio frequencies at irregular intervals between their transmission and reception.
It was difficult to use at the time, however, and was only first used during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960’s, where their invention was used in naval ships. The invention was patented on August 11, 1942, and she donated the invention to the US Navy.
The military completely ignored the idea and the invention, even casting it out as silly, because they thought it involved putting a piano in a torpedo, until 1962.
Despite the fact that the United States military acknowledged that Hedy Lamarr came up with this important invention, her entire estate has not even received a penny. What she created ended up becoming a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Hedy Lamarr was famous during a time when women were either supposed to be sexy and seductive, or admired from afar. This was not a time where women were allowed to be both smart and sexy, as this was too intimidating for men.
This is perhaps one of the reasons why Hedy Lamarr only became famous for her invention decades after it was created and implemented.
Despite the fact that she did not get the recognition she deserved at the time for her invention, the fact that she was a woman who was not afraid to be powerful during a time when women were not supposed to be smart is highly inspirational for women all around the world.
Check Out Other Posts Related to Hedy Lamarr’s Invention and Its Importance
- Maya Angelou’s Biography | Check Our Her Books & Autobiography Collection
- Madonna’s Speeches About Feminism During Billboard Music Awards & Women’s March
- Dua Lipa: How IDGAF And New Rules Became Our New Pop Anthems