Hedy Lamarr - co-invented an early form of spread spectrum encoding
(November 9, 1913 – January 19, 2000) was an Austrian-born American actress. Though known primarily for her great beauty and her successful film career, she also co-invented an early form of spread spectrum encoding, a key to modern wireless communication.
Early career in Europe
She was born as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austrian Empire, to Emil Kiesler, a bank director, and Gertrud née Lichtwitz, pianist. Though part Jewish, she was raised as Catholic, and studied ballet and piano. When working with Max Reinhardt in Berlin, he called her the "most beautiful woman in Europe". Soon, the teenage girl played major roles in German movies, alongside stars like Heinz Rühmann and Hans Moser.
In early 1933, she starred in Symphonie der Liebe or Ecstasy, a Czechoslovak film made in Prague, in which she played a love-hungry young wife of an indifferent old husband. Closeups of her face in orgasm, and long shots of her running nude through the woods, gave the film notoriety.
On 10 August 1933 she married Friedrich Mandl, a Vienna-based arms manufacturer, 13 years her senior. The Austrian fascist bought up as many copies of the film as he could possibly find, as he objected to her nudity and "the expression on her face" (the looks of passion were the result of the director poking her in the bottom with a safety pin). He prevented her from pursuing her acting career, and instead took her to meetings with technicians and business partners. In these meetings, the mathematically-talented Lamarr learned about military technology. Otherwise, she had to stay at castle Schwarzenau. She ran away in 1937.
Movie career in Hollywood
First she went to Paris, then met Louis B. Mayer in London. After he hired her, at his insistence she changed her name to Hedy Lamarr, choosing the surname in homage to a famously beautiful film star of the silent era, Barbara LaMarr, who had died of tuberculosis and nephritis in 1926.
in Boom Town (1940)In Hollywood, she was usually cast as glamorous and seductive. Her American debut was in Algiers (1938). Her many films include Boom Town (1940), White Cargo (1942), and Tortilla Flat (1942), based on the novel by John Steinbeck. White Cargo, one of Lamarr's biggest hits at MGM, contains arguably her most famous film quote, "I am Tondelayo". In 1941, she was cast alongside two other Hollywood beauties, Lana Turner and Judy Garland in the musical extravaganza Ziegfeld Girl.
She made 18 films 1940-1949 even though she had two children during that time (1945, 1947). She left MGM in 1945; Lamarr enjoyed her biggest success as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah, the highest-grossing film of 1949, with Victor Mature as the Biblical strongman. However, following her comedic turn opposite Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951), her career went into decline. She appeared only sporadically in films after 1950, one of her last roles being that of Joan of Arc in Irwin Allen's critically panned epic The Story of Mankind (1957).
The publication of her autobiography Ecstasy and Me (1967) took place about a year after accusations of shoplifting, and a year after Andy Warhol's short film Hedy (1966), also known as The Shoplifter. The controversy surrounding the shoplifting charges coincided with an aborted return to the screen in Picture Mommy Dead (1966). The role was ultimately filled by Zsa Zsa Gabor.
In the ensuing years, Lamarr retreated from public life, and settled in Florida. She returned to the headlines in 1991 when the 78 year old former actress was again accused of shoplifting, although charges were eventually dropped.
Lamarr became a naturalized citizen of the United States on April 10, 1953.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Hedy Lamarr has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Blvd.
Frequency-hopped spread spectrum invention
Avant garde composer George Antheil, a son of German immigrants and neighbor of Lamarr, had experimented with automated control of instruments. Together, he and Lamarr submitted the idea of a Secret Communication System in June 1941. On 11 August 1942, U.S. Patent 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and Hedy Kiesler Markey. This early version of frequency hopping used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam.
The idea was impractical, ahead of its time, and not feasible due to the state of mechanical technology in 1942. It was not implemented in the USA until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba, after the patent had expired. Neither Lamarr nor Antheil (who died in 1959) made any money from the patent. Perhaps due to this lag in development, the patent was little-known until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Lamarr an award for this contribution.
Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, e.g. CDMA used in devices ranging from cordless telephones to WiFi network connections. Similar patents had been granted to others earlier, like in Germany in 1935 to Telefunken engineers Paul Kotowski and Kurt Dannehl who also received U.S. Patent 2,158,662 and U.S. Patent 2,211,132 in 1939 and 1940.
Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but she was told that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell War Bonds. She once raised $7,000,000 at just one event.
In May 2008, playwright Elyse Singer was slated to premiere a new play in New York City, Frequency Hopping, about Antheil and Lamarr's frequency-hopping invention. See Paul Lehrman's website antheil.org on Antheil for more information.
Lamarr died in Altamonte Springs, Florida (near Orlando) on January 19, 2000. Her son Anthony Loder took her ashes to Vienna and spread them in the Wienerwald, according to her wishes.
In 1998, a vector illustration of Lamarr's face was used by Corel Corporation on the packaging and in the publicity for its CorelDRAW 8 software. Lamarr retained Attorney Michael McDonnell and sued Corel for damages relating to unauthorized use of her likeness. The case was resolved in 1999 and settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, under terms that allowed Corel five years of exclusive rights to the image.
In 2003, the Boeing corporation ran a series of recruitment ads featuring Hedy Lamarr as a woman of science. No reference to her film career was made in the ads. In 2005, the first Inventor's Day in German-speaking countries was held in her honor on November 9, on what would have been her 92nd birthday.
Briefly engaged to the actor George Montgomery in 1942, Lamarr was married to:
Friedrich Mandl (1900–1977), married 1933–37; chairman of Hirtenberger Patronen-Fabrik, a leading armaments firm founded by his father, Alexander Mandl. Mandl, partially of Jewish descent, was a supporter of Austrofascism, although not Nazism.
Gene Markey (1895-1980), screenwriter and producer, married 1939–41; son (adopted in 1941, after their divorce), James Lamarr Markey (b. 1939). When Lamarr and Markey divorced — she claimed they had only spent four evenings alone together in their marriage — the judge advised her to get to know any future husband longer than the four weeks she had known Markey. Previously, he was married to actresses Joan Bennett and Myrna Loy.
John Loder (born John Muir Lowe, 1898–1988), actor, married 1943–47; two children: Anthony Loder (b. 1947) and Denise Loder (b. 1945). Loder adopted Hedy's son, James Lamarr Markey, and gave him his surname. James Lamarr Loder later challenged Hedy Lamarr's will in 2000, which did not mention him. He later dropped his suit against the estate in exchange for a lump-sum payment of $50,000. Anthony Loder is featured in the 2004 European documentary film "Calling Hedy Lamarr".
Ernest "Ted" Stauffer (1909-1991), nightclub owner, restaurateur, and former bandleader, married 1951–52.
W. Howard Lee (1909–1981), a Texas oilman, married 1953–60. In 1960, he married film star Gene Tierney.
Lewis J. Boies (b. 1920), a lawyer, married 1963–65. They were divorced after Lamarr claimed he had threatened her with a plastic baseball bat and whiffle ball.
Das Geld liegt auf der Straße (Money on the Street, 1930)
Die Frau von Lindenau (Storm in a Water Glass, 1931)
Die Abenteuer des Herrn O. F. (The Trunks of Mr. O. F., 1931)
Man braucht kein Geld (We Need No Money, 1932)
Ekstase / Symphonie der Liebe (Ecstasy, 1933)
Hollywood Goes to Town (1938) (short subject)
Screen Snapshots: Stars at a Charity Ball (1939) (short subject)
Lady of the Tropics (1939)
I Take This Woman (1940)
Boom Town (1940)
Comrade X (1940)
Come Live with Me (1941)
Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941)
Tortilla Flat (1942)
White Cargo (1942)
Show Business at War (1943) (short subject)
The Heavenly Body (1944)
The Conspirators (1944)
Experiment Perilous (1944)
Her Highness and the Bellboy (1945)
The Strange Woman (1946)
Dishonored Lady (1947)
Let's Live a Little (1948)
Samson and Delilah (1949)
A Lady Without Passport (1950)
Copper Canyon (1950)
My Favorite Spy (1951)
The Eternal Female (1954) (unfinished)
Loves of Three Queens (1954)
The Story of Mankind (1957)
The Female Animal (1958)
The article could be improved by integrating relevant items and removing inappropriate ones.
Cecil B. DeMille is said to have gathered the 1,900 peacock feathers that Lamarr wore on her 18-foot-train dress in the film Samson and Delilah (1949) himself, having followed molting peacocks on his ranch for the previous 10 years, until he had collected enough feathers to have the garment made.
According to My Wicked, Wicked Ways (1959), the autobiography of actor and adventurer Errol Flynn, he went out of his way to meet Lamarr because he had heard of her outstanding beauty and wanted to hear more of her personal life. "She had been married to the fabulously rich Fritz Mandel, a munitions magnate. The story was that he used to lock up all her jewels, and he used to lock her up too. Her husband let her wear one or two jewels at a time, but never all together, and the jewels were in his safe all the time. One night he was having over a very famous Nazi guest, Prince von Starhemberg, the leader of the Austrian Fascists. Mandel was doing a lot of business with him. Hedy asked her husband if she could wear all her jewels that night because she wanted to impress the prince and so be of some help to Mandel in his business relation. Her jeweled entrance caused a sensation. From her fingers up to her shoulders in ice, red ice, blue ice, emeralds, rubies, diamonds. She must have weighed half as much as the late Aga Khan. As the dinner went on, Hedy developed a sick headache and excused herself just for a moment, to go to the bathroom. But she never came back for coffee. Next thing she was in America — in Hollywood — jewels and beauty and talent and all. Now, with Niven prodding me, I didn't know how to get around her to ask her to tell me about her private life, but it sounded intriguing when David repeated, 'See if she'll talk about that night she couldn't stand it anymore and made a getaway.' Hedy and I talked for a while. I started leading up to it in a diplomatic way, and finally got out the words, 'Where is Mandel now?' At which, from this beautiful creature, came the growl, 'That sonofabitch!' She spat and walked off."
In 1965 Lamarr made headlines for being arrested for shoplifting; charges were eventually dropped. This situation played out again in 1991.
Andy Warhol directed a 70-minute film Hedy (1966) also known as Hedy the Shoplifter, starring drag queen Mario Montez as Hedy.
According to her autobiography, Ecstasy and Me (1966), once while running away from Friedrich Mandl, she slipped into a brothel and hid in an empty room. While her husband searched the brothel, a man entered the room and she had sex with him so she could remain hidden. She was finally successful in escaping when she hired a new maid who resembled her; she drugged the maid and used her uniform as a disguise to escape. Lamarr later sued the publisher claiming that many of the anecdotes in the book, which was described by a judge as "filthy, nauseating, and revolting", were fabricated by its ghost writer, Leo Guild.
In an interview included in the DVD release of Blazing Saddles (1974), Mel Brooks claims that Hedy Lamarr threatened to sue the producers. He says she believed the film's running "Hedley Lamarr" joke infringed her right to publicity. In one scene, one character even warns another that Hedy would sue. Brooks says they settled out of court for a small sum.
In the song "Feed Me (Git it)" from Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Audrey II lists a date with Hedy Lamarr as part of his offer to Seymour in exchange for food.
In the video game Half-Life 2, Doctor Isaac Kleiner keeps a debeaked headcrab he calls 'Lamarr' and at some points in the game calls 'Hedy'. The same headcrab appears in the ending sequence of the game. At the end of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Lamarr stows away on the rocket fired to close the Combine superportal, and thus meets her end.
Hedy Lamarr's story is illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil on Jim Ottaviani's graphic novel, Dignifying Science: Stories of Women Scientists, which focuses on her engineering developments.
"Films have a certain place in a certain time period. Technology is forever".
List of Austrian scientists
List of Austrians
^ a b Electronic Frontier Foundation (11 March 1997). "Movie Legend Hedy Lamarr to be Given Special Award at EFF's Sixth Annual Pioneer Awards". Press release. Retrieved on 2007-07-04.
^ a b The ecstasy. The Independent (January 30, 2005). Retrieved on 2008-02-21.
^ Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Hollywood Walk of Fame directory. Retrieved on 2007-07-04.
^ IEEE - Hedy Lamarr, 1914 - 2000
^ MicroTimes: The Birth Of Spread Spectrum
^ a b Calling Hedy Lamarr, Mischief Films
^ "Hedy Lamarr Engaged: Screen Star, 27, to Be Bride of George Montgomery, 25", The New York Times, 25 March 1942, p. 23
^ "Hedy Lamarr Adopts Baby Boy", The New York Times, 5 November 1941, p. 30
^ Errol Flynn, My Wicked, Wicked Ways (New York: Cooper Square Press, 2003), pages 255-256
^ Hedy at the Internet Movie Database
^ Hedy Lamarr, with Leo Guild and Cy Rice, "Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman", NY: Bartholomew House, 1966
^ "Hedy Lamarr Loses Suit to Halt Book", The New York Times, 27 September 1966, p. 74
^ "Lamarr Autobiography Prompts Plaigarism Suit", The New York Times, February 1967, p. 18
Hedy LamarrHedy Lamarr at the Internet Movie Database
Hedy Lamarr at the TCM Movie Database
Hedy Lamarr at Reel Classics
Hedy Lamarr at Find A Grave
Hedy Lamarr foundation
Inventions.org page on Hedy Lamarr
Interview with Hedy Lamarr biographer Patrick Agan
Hedy Lamarr at TV.com
January 2007 front page tribute to Hedy Lamarr in the Indian press
May 2007 interview with Anthony Loder for the Indian press
Advanced Weaponry of the Stars by Prof. Hans-Joachim Braun Invention & Technology article about Hedy Lamarr's patent
Annual Inventor's Day on her Birthday
Deconstructing Hedy Lamarr, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 22 May 2006. (German)
Review of the Documentary "Hedy Lamarr - Secrets Of A Hollywood Star", Telepolis, 16 September 2006. (German)
Frequenzspreizung und Lizenzfaschismus Discussion of Lamarr's patent (German)
Trilogy of 2007 Newspaper Articles on Hedy Lamarr by Colin Todhunter
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