Tag Archives: Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr: Smoking Hot Genius

17 May

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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To Hedy Lamarr, the ultimate Beauty with Brains!

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Hedy in her hey-day.

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One of my favorite glamour shots of the brunette beauty.

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

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A rare nude of the young movie goddess.

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An even rarer shot of Hedy smiling for the cameras.

 

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Hedy Lamarr: Beauty and Brains

4 Mar

By now the story of Hedy Lamarr having invented the technology that would become the basis for all cellular phones, smart phones and defense department guided weapons systems should be common knowledge. What? You say you didn’t know that the Hollywood Goddess was also an inventor? That’s right, Hedy was pure and simple, a genius. Not only that, but she knew a thing or two about science and military weaponry. That’s because before she came to Hollywood and shined on the silver screen, she was married to a wealthy arms merchant who sold weapons to anyone who could afford them. And the highest-selling weaponry, then or now, was the latest, greatest bomb, bullet or torpedo that could not be stopped! Enter, Hedy Lamarr’s invention.

Put plainly, Hedy had the idea of creating a guidance system based on a broad-spectrum technology, one in which the frequency of the signal for said bomb, bullet or torpedo would change in sync with the system guiding it. So, if both the gun and the bullet having shot it are in sync, the signal sent and received changing frequency every second or so – it would be impossible for an outside force to disrupt that signal. Now think that a movie star invented this technology in the early 1940’s and you’ll begin to understand the importance of Hedy Lamarr’s discovery.

Now here’s the sad part of the story. Hedy patented her cellular technology but it lapsed before the military application fully took hold – after World War II. Even more distressing was the commercial application of the technology, found in every cellular and smart phone walking around today. By rights, Hedy should have been a billionaire several times over by the late ’90s. Instead she was broke, and no one cared that the woman who once was one of the world’s most beautiful and sought after movie stars had been ripped off for an invention that would change the world and make telecommunication companies the monsters they are today.

Dear Hedy is gone now, and the story I just told you is yet to become common knowledge. She was recognized for her invention late in her life by a field of appreciative scientists, if not the corporate honchos who made billions of her invention – and still do today. But what I’d like to remember Hedy for was the beauty and brains who dared to think outside the box and, in her own way, help democracy and freedom spread throughout the entire world. See, it’s not always the one invention that changes the world, but all the applications, ideas and subsequent inventions that come after it. Hedy’s revolution in cellular technology paved the way for a lot of the gadgets we rely upon in our daily lives today. And while we may still admire her beauty in movies such as ALGIERS and WHITE CARGO, the Hedy I really admire is the little bit of her that fits into the palm of my hand. The one who dared to use her brains in addition to her beauty and changed the world forever.