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Hedy Lamarr

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Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1913January 19, 2000) was an actress and communications innovator. She was known as The Most Beautiful Woman In Films and also as the inventor of the first form of spread spectrum, a key to modern wireless communication.

Contents

Life

Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria and died in Altamonte Springs, FL.

While married to her first husband, Fritz Mandl, an arms manufacturer, she socialized with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. She also became educated technically in his trade. Mandl was obsessed with his wife and never let her out of his sight. She hated him and his Nazi friends and finally escaped to London by drugging him and the French maid he had hired to spy on her. Ironically, both she and Mandl were Jewish (though this was not publicly known until after her death, when close friends and family told various news outlets about her lifelong outrage at the hypocrisy of his dealings with and support of the Nazi top brass despite their Jewish ethnicity). Whether the Nazis knew about their Jewish origins has been debated by historians; both Lamarr and Mandl came from extremely assimilated families and while it appears she never overtly hid her Jewish origins nor converted to Christianity as Fritz Mandl did, she obviously considered it a very private facet of her life. Some biographers have said that her marriage to Mandl was pressured by her family as a way for all of them to be spared by Hitler. Many also say that her co-invention of spread spectrum as a potential World War II military application was fueled by her desire to do anything in her power to help see Nazi Germany defeated.

She met Louis B. Mayer of MGM in London. He hired her and changed her name to Hedy Lamarr, the surname in homage to a famously beautiful film star of the silent era, Barbara LaMarr, who had died of a drug overdose in 1926. She had already appeared in several European films, including Ecstasy, in which she played a love-hungry young wife of an indifferent old husband. Closeups of her face in passion, and long shots of her running naked through the woods, gave the film notoriety. She also gained notoriety as the first actress to bare her breasts, and in a major film. Mandl bought up as many copies of the film as he could possibly find, as he objected to her nudity, as well as "the expression on her face."

She was also known as the "Laurence Olivier of Orgasm".

In Hollywood, she appeared in many films, usually cast as glamorous and seductive, including White Cargo and Tortilla Flat (both 1942), based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Her biggest success came in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949) with Victor Mature as the Biblical strongman.

Lamarr became a naturalized citizen of the United States on April 10, 1953.

Secret Communications System

Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil received patent number 2,292,387 for their "Secret Communications System." 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 to jam. The patent was little-known until recently because Lamarr applied for it under her then-married name of Hedy Kiesler Markey. Neither Lamarr nor Antheil made any money from the patent. The U.S. military did not adopt this technology until 1962.

Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council but was told she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell war bonds. She once raised $7,000,000 at one event.

Lamarr's frequency hopping technology served as the basis for modern "spread-spectrum wireless" technology used in devices ranging from cordless phones to WiFi internet connections.

In 2003 Boeing 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.

Marriages

The actress was married to:

Friedrich (Fritz) Mandl (1900-), married 1933-37; chairman of Hirtenberger Patronen-Fabrik, a leading armaments firm founded by his father, Alexander Mandl. In 1938, when his property was seized by the Austrian government, Mandl, a Nazi sympathizer who had become close to Prince Ernst Ruediger von Stahremberg, the deposed Fascist Austrian Vice-Chancellor, fled to Brazil and later Argentina, where he became a citizen and remarried. He also became an advisor to Juan Peron and a film producer whose leading ladies included the future Eva Peron. He also founded a new company, an airplane factory called Industria Metalurgica y Plastica Argentina and served a prison sentence.

Gene Markey (died 1980), screenwriter and producer, married 1939-41; son (adopted), James Lamarr Markey (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 more than the four weeks she had known Markey. Previously married to the actress Joan Bennett (whose daughter, Diane Bennett Fox, he adopted and gave his surname) and father of their daughter Melinda, Markey later married Lucille Wright (née Parker), the owner of Calumet Farms, the thoroughbred horse farm in Kentucky.

John Loder (né John Muir Lowe, 1899-1989), actor, married 1943-47; two children: Anthony Loder (1947-) and Denise Loder (1945-). In 1949, Loder married Evelyn Auffmordt (née Carolan), and in 1958, he married Alba Julia Lagomarsino. He also had a son and a daughter by his first two marriages to Sophie Kabel and Micheline Cheirel. NOTE 1: Loder adopted James Lamarr Markey and gave him his surname. Now a riverboat casino guard, 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. Loder is married to the former Ona Minor and has four children, all of whom carry Lamarr as their middle name: Timothy, Ronald, Nadine, and Susan. NOTE 2: A former Nordstrom employee, Denise Loder, now known as Denise Loder DeLuca, lives in Seattle. NOTE 3: Anthony Loder is the owner of Phone USA, a cellular-phone store in Los Angeles.

Ernest "Ted" Stauffer, nightclub owner, restaurateur, and former bandleader, married 1951-52. He was married in 1955 to Anne Nekel Brown.

W. Howard Lee (1909-1981), a Texas oilman, married 1953-60. In 1960, he married film star Gene Tierney.

Lewis J. Boies (1920-), a lawyer, married 1963-65. They were divorced after Lamarr claimed he had threatened her with a baseball bat.

Anecdotes

In one story presented in her autobiography, Ecstacy and Me, once while running from Mandl she slipped into a brothel and hid in an empty room.

While her husband searched the brothel, a customer entered the room and she had sex with the man so she could remain hidden. She was finally successful in escaping when she hired a new maid that looked like herself, drugged her and used the maid's uniform as a disguise to escape.

Lamarr later sued the publisher claiming that many of the anecdotes were fabricated by the ghost writer.

According to accounts in film histories, Cecil B. DeMille is said to have gathered the 1900 peacock feathers that Lamarr wore on her 18-foot-train dress in the 1949 movie Samson and Delilah himself, having chased molting peacocks on his ranch for the previous 10 years until he had collected enough feathers to have the garment made.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Hedy Lamarr has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Blvd.

In an interview appended to the DVD release of Blazing Saddles, 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. Mel says they settled out of court for a small sum.

Quotes

  • "Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid." — Hedy Lamarr

Filmography

See also

External links

de:Hedy Lamarr es:Hedy Lamarr it:Hedy Lamarr nl:Hedy Lamarr pl:Hedy Lamarr

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