Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler November 9, 1914, in Vienna, Austria.
Lamarr was considered notorious even by Hollywood standards for a few reasons:
- Her physical appearance. The Hollywood press of the 1940's referred to her "the most beauti
ful woman in the world."
Her risqué first film, Ecstasy. She was 18 when the film was made, and the director filmed the nude scenes in itwithout her permission with a telephoto lens. She felt exploited by the German and turned to the stage.
- Her six marriages. She left her first husband because of the emotional and verbal abuse she suffered. She comments on feeling a prisoner in her own home and that she married each of her husbands for different reasons.
- Her brilliant mind. She was a staunch anti-fascist and used her mathematical and scientific gifts to assist the Allied war efforts during World War II by inventing frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology (FHSS) with composer George Antheil. According to an article in psmag.com,
“Co-created with composer George Antheil, FHSS is a technology that switches radio signals quickly between different frequencies so that the signals are difficult to trace. Though Lamarr and Antheil created FHSS to keep Allied radio-guided torpedoes out of the sights of the Germans during World War II, their patent was dismissed by the United States Navy and left to lapse. FHSS was rediscovered by engineers at the Sylvania Electronic Systems Division in the 1950s and became the precursor to modern technologies we use every day in Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth technologies.”
Unfortunately, the National Inventors Council told her she could better help the war by exploiting her celebrity to raise money for war bonds. And she did it.
Her drug addiction broke her health; She became addicted when given drugs to help her endure grueling work hours. She died January 19, 2000, just as her contribution to technology was on the cusp of being recognized.