Hedy Lamarr (who is Hedy Lamarr?)

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Hedy Lamarr, born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November 9, 1914, in Vienna, Austria, was a prominent actress during Hollywood's Golden Age and an inventor whose contributions to technology were truly ahead of her time.

Early Life and Career

Hedy Lamarr's interest in the performing arts manifested early, and by her teenage years, she had enrolled in Max Reinhardt's acting school in Berlin. Her cinematic debut was in the 1930 German film "Geld auf der Straße," although she garnered significant attention and notoriety for her role in the Czech film "Ecstasy" (1933). The film was controversial for its era, particularly because Lamarr appeared nude, which was unprecedented for a leading actress at that time.

Hollywood Career

After her rise to fame in Europe, she caught the attention of MGM's head, Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a Hollywood contract. Relocating to the United States, she changed her name to Hedy Lamarr and debuted in the movie "Algiers" (1938) opposite Charles Boyer. Her exotic looks and accent positioned her as the archetypal glamorous seductress of the silver screen. During her Hollywood career, she starred in numerous films including "Boom Town" (1940), "I Take This Woman" (1940), "Comrade X" (1940), "Come Live with Me" (1941), and "Samson and Delilah" (1949), among others.

Contributions to Science and Technology

Significantly, Lamarr was not just a silver screen legend but also an inventor. During World War II, she co-invented a radio-frequency hopping system intended for torpedo guidance with composer George Antheil. This system was designed to prevent the interception or jamming of radio-controlled missiles. Although it wasn't adopted immediately by the Navy, her technology became a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS.

Personal Life

Lamarr was married six times, with each marriage ending in divorce. She had three children: two sons and an adopted daughter. Her autobiography "Ecstasy and Me" (1966), which was later claimed by Lamarr to be exaggerated by its ghostwriter, details elements of her personal life and numerous affairs, but these claims are not entirely verified.

Later Life and Recognition

Her later years saw a retreat from public life. Lamarr passed away on January 19, 2000, in Casselberry, Florida. Posthumously, she has been recognized for her significant contributions to technology. She and George Antheil were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

In popular culture, Hedy Lamarr's legacy as both an actress and an inventor has been celebrated in various media and educational forums. She's the subject of the documentary "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story" (2017), which highlights her life and achievements.

For further information on Hedy Lamarr, her biography Hedy's Folly by Richard Rhodes and the aforementioned documentary Bombshell offer extensive insights into her life and legacy.

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