Have you ever heard of an American actress who gained recognition not just for her movies but also for being incredibly intelligent?
We are talking about Austrian American actress ‘Hedy Lamarr’ who left her strong impressions on technology, thanks to her technical mind.
The stunning actress has contributed with her work by being a co-inventor on frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) which later paved the way to Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth which is widely used today.
Hedy Lamarr – Every bit of the Gorgeous Actress you need to know
Hedy Lamarr who was an actress during MGM’s ‘Golden Age’ has been into films for around three decades. Hedy Lamarr who is also referred to as ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in Film’ was one of the most successful actresses of her time.
Hedy Lamarr’s Early Life
Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler aka Hedy Lamarr was born on the 9th of November, 1914 in Vienna, Austria. Her father Emil Kiesler was a bank director at the Creditanstalt-Bankverein while her mother Gertrud ‘Trude’ Kiesler was a pianist.
Being the only daughter of a well-to-do banker, Lamarr received private education starting from the age of 4. She used to go to a private school which helped her in learning piano, ballet, language as well as natural sciences lessons. This helped in becoming a proficient pianist as well as a dancer by the time she turned 10. Also, Lamarr learned to speak four languages by then.
Right from her childhood, Lamarr was interested in acting. Both theatre and films attracted her. While she was a child, she used to have interactive sessions with her father on inventions and machines. Her father used to discuss with her different machines and how they work while taking her out for walks. Lamarr also won a beauty contest in Vienna when she was just 12.
Hedy Lamarr – Establishment of her Acting Career
Hedy Lamarr was first noticed as an international face at the age of 18 with her performance in the Czech erotic romantic drama film Extase (1932; Ecstasy) directed by Gustav Machatý.
Soon after that, she got married to Austrian munitions manufacturer Friedrich Mandl in the year 1933. However, this did not happen to be a happy marriage for Hedy Lamarr. Mandl was said to be a controlling husband. He was not happy with Hedy’s orgasm scene in the film Extase. He didn’t want Hedy to continue with her acting career.
Hedy Lamarr while mentioning her marriage in her autobiography wrote:
“I knew very soon that I could never be an actress while I was his wife. … He was the absolute monarch in his marriage. … I was like a doll. I was like a thing, some object of art which had to be guarded – and imprisoned – having no mind, no life of its own. ”
Not being able to accept this life with Mandl, Hedy Lamarr ran away from both her husband and her country to the United States. There she joined hands with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) in Hollywood by signing a contract under the name ‘Hedy Lamarr’.
She has officially gone with the change of her name from Hedwig Kiesler to Hedy Lamarr in 1937 before making her way to Hollywood on being persuaded by Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM.
Hedy Lamarr – Turning into a Successful Hollywood Actress
In 1938, Mayer started to promote Hedy Lamarr as the “world’s most beautiful woman” while introducing her to Hollywood. The year 1938 happened to be the major turning point for Hedy Lamarr as her first Hollywood film titled ‘Algiers’ was released then. Lamarr shared the screen space with Charles Boyer in the film Algiers which happened to be a huge box-office hit.
After that, Hedy Lamarr had no turning back as she became hugely popular and one of the most successful Hollywood actresses of that era. She got the opportunity to share screen space with the most popular male actors of the time which include Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, and Jimmy Stewart.
Hedy Lamarr featured in numerous films during the 1930s and 1940s which received huge love from the audience. A few of her popular films include – 1940 film ‘Boom Town’ opposite Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy; 1939 film ‘Lady of the Tropics’ opposite Robert Taylor; 1942 film ‘Tortilla Flat’ opposite Tracy; 1949 film ‘Samson and Delilah’ co-starring Victor Mature among others.
Hedy Lamarr’s last film under MGM contract was in 1945 which was a romantic comedy ‘Her Highness and the Bellboy’ paired opposite Robert Walker.
Slowly in the 1950s, Lamarr’s acting career started coming down. Hedy Lamarr was last seen in the film ‘The Female Animal’ in 1958 opposite Jane Powell.
Hedy Lamarr – Co-Inventor of ‘Secret Communications System’
The gorgeous actress Hedy Lamarr who was extremely intelligent made her way into the innovative world of technology during World War II. Lamarr along with her composer friend George Antheil worked on the frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS).
She wanted to come up with a frequency-hopping signal that cannot be tracked to stop enemies from being able to decode messages during World War II.
They together invented the ‘Secret Communications System’ for which they were granted a patent in 1942. The innovation which was actually made to defeat the Garman Nazis later contributed to technology development which helped in securing military communications as well as cellular phones.
However, Hedy Lamarr didn’t receive immediate recognition for her Communications System. Later in 1977, Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil received appreciation for their invention in the form of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award.
“The brains of people are more interesting than the looks I think,” said Lamarr in 1990.
Also, Lamarr’s innovation happened to be the forerunner in developing Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth which is widely used by everyone today.
Hedy Lamarr – Married Life and Children
It is an irony that Herry Lamarr was married six times but was still alone when she died. She married six times and divorced every time.
- Her first marriage was with Friedrich Mandl, Chairman of the Hirtenberger Patronen-Fabrik whom she married in 1933 and divorced in the year 1937.
- The second marriage was with screenwriter and producer Gene Markey in 1939 and divorce in 1941. Lamarr was carrying John Loder’s child in 1938 whom she secretly delivered on the 9th of June, 1939. Later, she and Gene Markey adopted the same child who was named James Lamarr Markey. Interestingly, John Loder was her third husband.
- Lamarr’s third marriage was with actor John Loder in the year 1943. After her marriage with John Loder, the couple adopted James Lamarr Markey as James Lamarr Loder. They also shared two children from their marriage. The first child is Denise Loder, who was born on 19th January 1945 and is married to Larry Colton. Their second child is Anthony Loder who was born on 1st February 1947 and is married to Roxanne. They separated in the year 1947.
- Her fourth marriage was with a nightclub owner cum restaurateur Ernest “Ted” Stauffer which took place in the year 1951. The couple divorced in the year 1952.
- Her fifth marriage was with a Texas oilman W. Howard Lee in 1953 and they took divorce in 1960. Lee later tied the knot with actress Gene Tierney.
- Lamarr’s last marriage was with her divorce lawyer, Lewis J. Boies in the year 1963. They separated after about two years of their married life in 1965.
Lamarr became a U.S citizen in 1953 post completion of the naturalization process. After the divorce from Lewis J. Boies, Lamarr did not get into any relationship and remained single for the rest of her life (35 years) until she died.
Other interesting facts of Hedy Lamarr
- Lamarr came up with her best-selling autobiography, ‘Ecstasy and Me’ in the year 1966.
- Surprisingly, Lamarr has been arrested twice for shoplifting – the first time in 1966 and the second time in 1991. However, she wasn’t convicted of the charge in both cases.
- Lamarr who used to spend her free time experimenting with something or the other invented an improved traffic signal.
- Karl Reinmuth’s discovery at Heidelberg Observatory in the year 1951 was named Asteroid 32730 Lamarr to honor Hedy Lamarr.
- In one of the episodes of the television show ‘Timeless’ in March 2018, a dramatized version of Lamarr was showcased. The idea was to show the efforts put by Lamarr in helping the time-travelers find the 1941 classic Citizen Kane’s stolen workprint.
- Both of her sons – Anthony Loder and Denise Loder-DeLuca featured in the documentary films – 2004 film ‘Calling Hedy Lamarr’ and 2017 film ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.
Hedy Lamarr – Last years before Death
In the last years of her life, Lamarr used to communicate with anyone only via telephone be it her children or friends. She did not prefer spending time with anyone in person and many times used to spend around six to seven hours a day over telephonic communication only.
Hedy Lamarr died at the age of 85 in Casselberry, Florida on 19th January 2000, owing to heart disease.
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