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Hedy Lamarr- The glamorous actor and inventor

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Hedy Lamarr, (9 November 1914- 19 January 2000), was truly unique beauty, She was an ingenious genius who planted a seed that would bloom into some of today's most ubiquitous technologies, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, cordless phones, and mobile phones. Her creations were part of a complex life full of inconsistencies and elusive facts that were not part of her film star persona.

A daughter of a rich Viennese banker, Lamarr was privately educated as a 4-year-old; by the time she was 10 years old, she was a talented pianist and performer and could speak four languages. At the age of 16, she enrolled in Max Reinhardt's Berlin-based drama academy, and within a year she made her film debut in Geld Auf der Strasse (1930; Money on the Street). In the Czech film Extase (1932; Ecstasy), she gained both stardom and popularity.

“The brains of people are more interesting than the looks I think,”- Hedy Lamarr

Her rising success was interrupted by her marriage in 1933 to the Austrian arms producer Fritz Mandl, who not only forbade her from any further stage and on-screen appearances. After leaving him, she went to Hollywood in 1937, where she starred in her first English-language movie, the classic romantic drama Algiers (1938). In 1953, Lamarr became a U.S. citizen.

Under a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1938 to 1945, she presented her acting skills. During the Second World War, in cooperation with the avant-garde composer George Antheil, she invented an electrical system that reduced the jamming of radio signals. While it was never used in wartime, it is a part of today's satellite and mobile phone technologies.

“Any girl can be glamorous; all you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”- Hedy Lamarr

Her charm quickly came to life in Beverly Hills and socialized with luminaries including John F. Kennedy and Howard Hughes, who provided her with equipment to perform tests in her trailer during her break from acting.

To this day, neither LaMarr nor her estate saw a penny of the multi-billion dollar industry her idea opened the way for. LaMarr’s work as an inventor was scarcely publicized in the 1940s.

Lamarr died of heart disease in Casselberry, Florida, on January 19, 2000, at the age of 85.

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