Hedy Lamarr: Smoking Hot Genius

17 May


Why the story of Hedy Lamarr hasn’t been made into a movie yet I’ll never understand. She was one of the most beautiful movie stars to ever grace the silver screen. But beyond her obvious attributes, Hedy was a bonafide genius. Hers was a classic case of beauty and brains taken to the extreme. And maybe because of the fact she was so beautiful, her academic achievements would never be taken seriously. Not until over 40 years later, at least.


Born Hedwig Kiesler, Hedy grew up in Vienna as an Austrian Banker’s unorthodox daughter. A self-described enfant terrible, Hedy gained notoriety while still a teenager for running through the woods naked in the Czech film “Ecstacy”.


Shorty afterwards, Hedy married wealthy arms merchant Fritz Mandl, a Hitler admirer. She accompanied Mandl to business and political dinners, quietly listening while her husband and his Nazi friends plotted advanced weaponry for the coming war.


Hedy managed a daring escape from the marriage by drugging a maid ordered to keep tabs on her. She fled to England, taking with her all the knowledge and information her Nazi-sympathizer husband has unwittingly exposed her to. Information that would be of incredible value to the Allies in a few years.


In London, Hedy met film mogul Louis B. Mayer. Mayer took one look at the natural beauty and shipped her to Hollywood and promptly rechristened her Hedy Lamarr.

600full-hedy-lamarr (1)

A self-taught mathematical genius, the 26-year old Hedy created “frequency-hopping” or “spread-spectrum” technology. She applied her theory to radio-controlled torpedoes, to sink Nazi ships without having their frequency being jammed by the enemy. Lamarr won a patent for her secret communication system. But it wasn’t until 1962, 20 years later, that the Navy would incorporate it into their torpedo guidance systems in time for the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Annex - Lamarr, Hedy_13

During WWII, Hedy was urged not to pursue the inventor’s route, but instead to help fight the war by selling war bonds as a glamorous actress, which she did. In one evening alone, Hedy sold over $7 million worth of bonds by selling kisses for $50,000 each! A record that has never been broken since.


Hedy never received a penny for her ground-breaking spread-spectrum technology. Her patent expired in 1959, but it is being used today in everything from cellular phones, to military defense satellites. Hedy was finally honored for services rendered during WWII by the Electric Frontier Foundation, among other honors. But it was scant recognition for technology that would eventually become the foundation for a trillion-dollar business.


Living in Florida shortly before her death at 84, the former movie goddess and mathematical genius had a tough time making ends meet. But ever the Lady, when asked about her new-found fame surrounding her invention, Hedy simply replied, “It’s about time.”


Hedy Lamarr’s true-life story is more fascinating to me than any she ever portrayed on screen. In the 1940’s and 50’s her star was among the brightest in the Hollywood Universe, with films like WHITE CARGO, ALGIERS and SAMSON & DELILAH rocketing her to fame. But watching the sex-kitten roles today gives me a slow burn, knowing tinseltown considered this beautiful woman better without a brain. One that could create technology out of a need to rid the world of Nazis but would end up having much farther reaching effects to this very day.


I’m hoping some day in the near future, Hollywood will finally get it right and do justice to this golden age movie goddess by telling her story on the silver screen. Hedy’s is truly an original tale and the most unique and unlikely comeback story in virtually all of Hollywood history. You’d think they’d be interested in something like that. Even if it does make them look foolish.


To Hedy Lamarr, the ultimate Beauty with Brains!


Hedy in her hey-day.


One of my favorite glamour shots of the brunette beauty.


Hedy smoking-hot in her screen debut in Czech silent “Ecstacy”.


A rare nude of the young movie goddess.


An even rarer shot of Hedy smiling for the cameras.


9 Responses to “Hedy Lamarr: Smoking Hot Genius”

  1. Cindy Bruchman May 17, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    OMG What a story! I had nooooo idea. Best post I’ve read all week. Having just watched the Imitation Game (again), this would be such a great biopic! Thanks for the great read and three cheers to Hedy 🙂

    • iheartingrid May 18, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

      Thanks for the nice comment. Glad you found Hedy’s story interesting!

  2. Silver Screenings June 27, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    Yes, I hope a movie is made about Hedy Lamarr’s life and, if they do, I hope they don’t “wreck” it. She was beautiful, talented and smart, as you pointed out.

    She sold kisses for $50,000 each?! Holey Mackerel!

  3. Aurora June 27, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

    I knew a bit of this, but certainly not the entire fascinating story. And she was gorgeous to boot! Fantastic read. Thanks so much for contributing it as part of the project!


  4. aaronwest June 27, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    Great post! I have seen a number of her films and have been aware of her smoldering beauty, but I had no idea she had such an intellect. She wasn’t given too many challenging roles, although I felt Ulmer’s “The Strange Woman” gave her some room to show her acting chops. I seem to remember reading that she had some psychological problems later in life after her acting career ended.

  5. Lindsey June 27, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    I knew that Hedy was a genius/inventor, but I’d never heard the story about her marriage and how she escaped from it. Fascinating!

  6. girlsdofilm June 28, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

    A great post on someone I’d only heard of in passing. What a fantastic life – I am surprised this isn’t a biopic as it’s certainly sensational enough. Thank you for sharing!

  7. In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood July 1, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    Excellent entry. I don’t know a lot about Hedy’s life, but I learnt a lot more.

    I would also like to let you know about my upcoming blogathon in August. I would love for you to participate. The link is below with more information.



  1. The Classic Movie History Project presents THE GOLDEN AGE | Once upon a screen… - June 27, 2015

    […] I Heart Ingrid – Hedy Lamarr: Smoking Hot Genius […]

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