Publicity photo, c. 1930s
|Born||Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler
9 November 1914[a]
|Died||19 January 2000
Casselberry, Florida, U.S.
United States (since 1953)
(m. 1933–1937; divorced)
(m. 1939–1941; divorced; 1 child)
(m. 1943–1947; divorced; 2 children)
(m. 1951–1952; divorced)
W. Howard Lee
(m. 1953–1960; divorced)
Lewis J. Boies
(m. 1963–1965; divorced)
Hedy Lamarr (//; born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, 9 November 1914 – 19 January 2000)[a] was an Austrian and American film actress and inventor. After an early and brief film career in Germany, which included a controversial love-making scene in the film Ecstasy (1933), she fled her husband and secretly moved to Paris. While there, she met MGM head Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood where she became a film star from the late 1930s to the 1950s. Mayer and the studio cast her in glamorous parts alongside popular leading men, and promoted her as the "world's most beautiful woman."
During her film career, Lamarr co-invented the technology for spread spectrum and frequency hopping communications. This new technology became important to America's military during World War II because it was used in controlling torpedoes. Those inventions have more recently been incorporated into Wi-Fi, CDMA and Bluetooth technology,  and led to her being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
Lamarr appeared in numerous popular feature films, including Algiers (1938) with Charles Boyer, I Take This Woman (1940) with Spencer Tracy, Comrade X (1940) with Clark Gable, Come Live With Me (1941) with James Stewart, H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941) with Robert Young, and Samson and Delilah (1949) with Victor Mature.
Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, the only child of Gertrud "Trude" Kiesler (née Lichtwitz; 3 February 1894 – 27 February 1977) and Emil Kiesler (27 December 1880 – 14 February 1935). Her mother was a pianist and Budapest native who came from the "Jewish haute bourgeoisie". Stephen Michael Shearer, a Lamarr biographer, asserts that Lamarr's mother had converted from Judaism to Catholicism and was a "practicing Christian". Lamarr's father, a banker, was a secular Jew born in Lemberg.
In early 1933, at age 18, she starred in Gustav Machatý's film, Ecstasy (Extase in German and Czech), which was filmed in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Lamarr’s role was that of a neglected young wife married to an indifferent older man. The film became notorious for showing Lamarr's face in the throes of orgasm as well as close-up and brief nude scenes in which she is seen swimming and running through the woods.
Friedrich Mandl, her first husband, objected to what he felt was exploitation of his wife and "the expression on her face" during the simulated orgasm. He purportedly bought up as many copies of Ecstasy as he could find in an attempt to restrict its public viewing. In an autobiography of Lamarr written in later years, she insists that all sexual activity in the film was simulated; the orgasm achieved using "method acting reality". The authenticity of passion was attained by the film director's off-screen manipulation of a safety pin strategically poking her bottom. The 19-year old Lamarr had married Mandl on 10 August 1933. Mandl, reputed to be the third richest man in Austria, was a munitions manufacturer. In her autobiography Ecstasy and Me, Lamarr described Mandl as extremely controlling, preventing her from pursuing her acting career and keeping her a virtual prisoner, confined to their castle home, Schloss Schwarzenau. Although half-Jewish, Mandl had close social and business ties to the fascist governments of Italy and Germany, selling munitions to Mussolini.
In her memoir, Ecstasy and Me, Lamarr wrote that Mussolini and Hitler had attended lavish parties hosted at the Mandl home. Mandl had Lamarr accompany him to business meetings where he conferred with scientists and other professionals involved in military technology. These conferences became Lamarr's introduction to the field of applied science and the ground that nurtured her latent talent in the scientific field.
Lamarr's marriage to Mandl became unbearable, and she devised a ruse to separate herself from both the marriage and the country. In Ecstasy and Me, she claimed to have disguised herself as her own maid and fled to Paris. Rumors stated that Lamarr persuaded Mandl to let her wear all of her jewelry for a dinner, then disappeared.
After escaping her husband, she fled to Paris in 1937 where she met Louis B. Mayer, who was scouting for talent in Europe. Mayer hired her but insisted that she change her name to Hedy Lamarr—she had been known as "the Ecstasy lady"—choosing the surname in homage to the beautiful silent film star, Barbara La Marr, who had died in 1926 from tuberculosis. Upon arriving in Hollywood in 1938, Mayer promoted her as the "world's most beautiful woman."
She received good reviews for her American film debut in Algiers (1938) with Charles Boyer, who asked that Lamarr be cast after meeting her at a party. In Hollywood, she was invariably cast as the archetypal glamorous seductress of exotic origins. Lamarr played opposite the era's most popular leading men. Her many films include Boom Town (1940) with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, Comrade X with Gable, White Cargo (1942), Tortilla Flat (1942) with Tracy and John Garfield, H. M. Pulham, Esq. (1941) with Robert Young, and Dishonored Lady (1947). In 1941, Lamarr was cast alongside Lana Turner and Judy Garland in Ziegfeld Girl.
Lamarr made 18 films from 1940 to 1949 even though she had two children during that time (in 1945 and 1947). After leaving MGM in 1945, she 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). White Cargo, one of Lamarr's biggest hits at MGM, contains, arguably, her most memorable film quote delivered with hints of a provocative invitation: "I am Tondelayo. I make tiffin for you?" This line typifies many of Lamarr's roles, which emphasized her beauty and sexuality but were light on lines. The lack of acting challenges bored Lamarr, and she turned to inventing to relieve her boredom.
Lamarr's earliest inventions include an improved traffic stoplight and a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated beverage. The beverage was less than successful; Lamarr herself claimed it tasted like Alka-Seltzer.
Frequency-hopping spread-spectrum invention
Lamarr's reputation as an inventor is based on her co-creation of a frequency-hopping system with George Antheil, an avant garde composer and neighbor of Lamarr in California. During World War II, Lamarr was inspired to contribute to the war effort. She focused her efforts on countering torpedoes.
Lamarr and Antheil discussed the fact that radio-controlled torpedoes, while important in the naval war, could easily be jammed by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, causing the torpedo to go off course. Lamarr had learned something about torpedoes during her marriage to Mandl. Lamarr and Antheil developed the idea of using frequency hopping to avoid jamming. This was achieved by using a piano roll to unpredictably change the signal sent between a control center and the torpedo at short bursts within a range of 88 frequencies in the radio-frequency spectrum (there are 88 black and white keys on a piano keyboard). The specific code for the sequence of frequencies would be held identically by the controlling ship and in the torpedo. It would be practically impossible for the enemy to scan and jam all 88 frequencies, as computation this complex would require too much power. The frequency-hopping sequence was controlled by a player-piano mechanism, which Antheil had earlier used to score his Ballet Mécanique.
On August 11, 1942, U.S. Patent 2,292,387 was granted to Hedy Kiesler Markey, Lamarr's married name at the time, and George Antheil. This early version of frequency hopping, although novel, soon was met with opposition from the U.S. Navy and was not adopted. The idea was not implemented in the U.S. until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba after the patent had expired. Lamarr's work was honored in 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave her a belated award for her contributions. In 1998, an Ottawa wireless technology developer, Wi-LAN Inc., acquired a 49% claim to the patent from Lamarr for an undisclosed amount of stock.
Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea served as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as Bluetooth, COFDM (used in Wi-Fi network connections), and CDMA (used in some cordless and wireless telephones). Blackwell, Martin, and Vernam's 1920 patent seems to lay the communications groundwork for Lamarr and Antheil's patent, which employed the techniques in the autonomous control of torpedoes.
Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but was reportedly told by NIC member Charles F. Kettering and others that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell War Bonds.
Lamarr and Antheil were inducted into the Inventor's Hall of Fame in 2014.
Lamarr became a naturalized citizen of the United States on 10 April 1953, at age 38. In 1966, she was arrested for shoplifting in Los Angeles. The charges were eventually dropped. In 1991, she was arrested on the same charge in Florida, this time for $21.48 worth of laxatives and eye drops. She pleaded "no contest" to avoid a court appearance, and in return for a promise to refrain from breaking any laws for a year, the charges were once again dropped.
According to her autobiography Ecstasy and Me (1966), while attempting to flee her husband, Friedrich Mandl, she reputedly 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 unrecognized. 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, saying 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. She was also sued in Federal Court by Gene Ringgold, who asserted the actress's autobiography contained material from an article about her life which he wrote in 1965 for a magazine called Screen Facts.
The publication of her autobiography took place about a year after the accusations of shoplifting and a year after Andy Warhol's short film Hedy (1966). The shoplifting charges coincided with a failed attempt to return to the screen in Picture Mommy Dead (1966). The role was ultimately filled by Zsa Zsa Gabor. Ecstasy and Me begins in a despondent mood, with this reference:
On a recent evening, sitting home alone suffering and brooding about my treatment at the police station because of an incident in a department store, and being replaced by Zsa Zsa Gabor in a motion picture (imagine how that pleased the ego!) I figured out that I had made – and spent – some thirty million dollars. Yet earlier that day I had been unable to pay for a sandwich at Schwab's drug store.[this quote needs a citation]
The 1970s were a decade of increasing seclusion for Lamarr. She was offered several scripts, television commercials, and stage projects, but none piqued her interest. In 1974, she filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit for $10 million for an unauthorized use of her name (i.e. "Hedley Lamarr" in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles); the case was settled out of court. With failing eyesight, she retreated from public life and settled in Miami Beach, Florida in 1981.
For several years beginning in 1997, the boxes of CorelDRAW’s software suites were graced by a large Corel-drawn image of Lamarr. The picture won CorelDRAW’s yearly software suite cover design contest in 1996. Lamarr sued Corel for using the image without her permission. Corel countered that she did not own rights to the image. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement in 1998.
In her later years, Lamarr turned to plastic surgery to preserve the looks she was terrified of losing. Lamarr had to endure disastrous results. "She had her breasts enlarged, her cheeks raised, her lips made bigger, and much, much more," said Anthony. "She had plastic surgery thinking it could revive her looks and her career, but it backfired and distorted her beauty." Anthony Loder also claimed that Lamarr was addicted to pills.
Lamarr became estranged from her adopted son, James Lamarr Loder, when he was 12 years old. Their relationship ended abruptly and he moved in with another family. They did not speak again for almost 50 years. Lamarr left James Loder out of her will and he sued for control of the $3.3 million estate left by Lamarr in 2000.
Lamarr died in Casselberry, Florida on 19 January 2000, aged 85. Her death certificate cites three causes: heart failure, chronic valvular heart disease, and arteriosclerotic heart disease. Her death coincided with her daughter Denise's 55th birthday. Her son Anthony Loder took her ashes to Austria and spread them in the Vienna Woods, in accordance with her last wishes.
Lamarr was given an honorary grave in Vienna's Central Cemetery in 2014.
Marriages and relationships
Lamarr was married six times, and had three children, one of whom was adopted:
- Friedrich Mandl (married 1933–1937), chairman of Hirtenberger Patronen-Fabrik.
- Gene Markey (married 1939–1941), screenwriter and producer
- Child: James Lamarr Markey (born 9 January 1939), adopted 12 June 1939, and re-adopted by John Loder; the child was thereafter known as James Lamarr Loder.
The couple lived at 2727 Benedict St in Los Angeles, California during their marriage.
- John Loder (married 1943–1947), actor
- Child: Denise Loder (born 19 January 1945), married Larry Colton, a writer and former baseball player
- Child: Anthony Loder (born 1 February 1947), married Roxanne who worked for illustrator James McMullan. Anthony Loder was featured in the 2004 documentary film Calling Hedy Lamarr
- Ernest "Ted" Stauffer (married 1951–1952), nightclub owner, restaurateur, and former bandleader
- W. Howard Lee (married 1953–1960); a Texas oilman (who later married film actress Gene Tierney)
- Lewis J. Boies (married 1963–1965); Lamarr's own divorce lawyer
Other media appearances
In the last decades of her life the telephone became her only means of communication with the outside world, even with her children and close friends. She often talked up to six or seven hours a day on the phone, but she hardly spent any time with anyone in person in her final years. A documentary, "Calling Hedy Lamarr" was released in 2004. Hedy's Children Anthony Loder and Denise Loder-DeLuca were featured in the documentary.
An Off-Broadway play, Frequency Hopping, features the lives of Lamarr and Antheil. The play was written and staged by Elyse Singer[who?] in 2008, and the script won a prize for best new play about science and technology from STAGE.
The 2010 New York Public Library exhibit, Thirty Years of Photography at the New York Public Library included a photo of a topless Lamarr (ca. 1930) by Austrian-born American photographer Trude Fleischmann.
The story of Lamarr's frequency-hopping spread-spectrum invention was explored in an episode of the Science Channel show Dark Matters: Twisted But True, a series which explores the darker side of scientific discovery and experimentation, which premiered on 7 September 2011. Her story was also featured in the premiere episode of the Discovery Channel show How We Invented the World.
On May 20, 2010, Hedy Lamarr was chosen from 150 IT people to be featured in a short film launched by the British Computer Society(BCS).
|1930||Gold on the Street||Young Girl||Georg Alexander||Original title: Geld auf der Straße|
|1931||Storm in a Water Glass||Secretary||Paul Otto||Original title: Sturm im Wasserglas|
|1931||The Trunks of Mr. O.F.||Helene||Alfred Abel||Original title: Die Koffer des Herrn O.F.|
|1932||No Money Needed||Käthe Brandt||Heinz Rühmann||Original title: Man braucht kein Geld|
|1933||Ecstasy||Eva Hermann||Aribert Mog||Original title: Ekstase|
|1939||Lady of the Tropics||Manon deVargnes Carey||Robert Taylor|
|1940||I Take This Woman||Georgi Gragore Decker||Spencer Tracy|
|1940||Boom Town||Karen Vanmeer||Clark Gable|
|1940||Comrade X||Theodore||Clark Gable|
|1941||Come Live With Me||Johnny Jones||James Stewart|
|1941||Ziegfeld Girl||Sandra Kolter||James Stewart|
|1941||H.M. Pulham, Esq.||Marvin Myles Ransome||Robert Young|
|1942||Tortilla Flat||Dolores Ramirez||Spencer Tracy|
|1942||Crossroads||Lucienne Talbot||William Powell|
|1942||White Cargo||Tondelayo||Walter Pidgeon|
|1944||The Heavenly Body||Vicky Whitley||William Powell|
|1944||The Conspirators||Irene Von Mohr||Paul Henreid|
|1944||Experiment Perilous||Allida Bederaux||George Brent|
|1945||Her Highness and the Bellboy||Princess Veronica||Robert Walker|
|1946||The Strange Woman||Jenny Hager||George Sanders|
|1947||Dishonored Lady||Madeleine Damien||Dennis O'Keefe|
|1948||Let's Live a Little||Dr. J.O. Loring||Robert Cummings|
|1949||Samson and Delilah||Delilah||Victor Mature||Her first film in Technicolor|
|1950||A Lady Without Passport||Marianne Lorress||John Hodiak|
|1950||Copper Canyon||Lisa Roselle||Ray Milland|
|1951||My Favorite Spy||Lily Dalbray||Bob Hope|
|1953||The Lovers of Paris||Original title: L'amante di Paride|
|1955||Eternal Woman||Herself||Massimo Serato|
|1957||The Story of Mankind||Joan of Arc||Ronald Colman|
|1958||The Female Animal||Vanessa Windsor||George Nader|
- "Hedy Lamarr: Inventor of more than the 1st theatrical-film orgasm". Los Angeles Times. 28 November 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- "Hedy Lamarr: Secrets of a Hollywood Star". Edition Filmmuseum 40. Edition Filmmuseum.com; accessed 3 May 2014.
- "Movie Legend Hedy Lamarr to be Given Special Award at EFF's Sixth Annual Pioneer Awards" (Press release). Electronic Frontier Foundation. 11 March 1997. Retrieved 1 Feb 2014.
- "Hollywood star whose invention paved the way for Wi-Fi", New Scientist, 8 December 2011; retrieved 4 February 2014.
- Craddock, Ashley (11 March 1997). "Privacy Implications of Hedy Lamarr's Idea". Wired. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- "Hedy Lamarr Inventor". New York Times. 1 October 1941. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
- Haskell, Molly (10 December 2010). "European Exotic". New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- Shearer, Stephen Michael (2010). Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 978-0-312-55098-1.
- "Czech Film Series 2009-2010 - Gustav Machatý:Ecstasy". Russian & East European Institute, Indiana University. 2 September 2009. Archived from the original on 11 September 2009. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Friedrich, Otto (1997). City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s (reprint ed.). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0520209494.
- Donnelley, Paul. Fade to Black: 1500 Movie Obituaries, Omnibus Press (2010) P. 639
- Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia, 3rd ed. HarperPerennial (1998) p. 780
- "Hedy Lamarr - actor, inventor, amateur engineer" (MP3). The Science Show. 2014-07-05. 7 minutes in. Radio National. Archived from the original on 2014-07-05. http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2014/07/ssw_20140705_1218.mp3#t=420.
- Long, Tony (11 August 2011). "This Day in Tech: Aug. 11, 1942: Actress + Piano Player=New Torpedo". Wired. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
- "Player Pianos, Sex Appeal, and Patent #2,292,387". Inside GNSS. September 2006.
- "The Birth of Spread Spectrum". MicroTimes.
- Blackwell; Martin; Vernam's (1920). "Secrecy Communication System: patent 1598673".
- Scholtz, Robert A. (May 1982). "The Origins of Spread-Spectrum Communications". IEEE Transactions on Communications 30 (5): 822. doi:10.1109/tcom.1982.1095547.
- Price, Robert (January 1983). "Further Notes and Anecdotes on Spread-Spectrum Origins". IEEE Transactions on Communications 31 (1): 85. doi:10.1109/tcom.1983.1095725.
- "Hedy Lamarr: Secret Communication System".
- Salamone, Debbie (24 October 1991). "Hedy Lamarr Won't Face Theft Charges If She Stays In Line". Orlando Sentinel; retrieved 10 June 2010.
- Hedy Lamarr, with Leo Guild and Cy Rice, Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman, New York: Bartholomew House, 1966.
- "Hedy Lamarr Loses Fight to Stop Autobiography". The Tuscaloosa News. Los Angeles Times. 27 September 1966. p. 12.--via Google Newspapers.
- "Hedy Lamarr Loses Suit to Halt Book", The New York Times, 27 September 1966, p. 74.
- "Lamarr Autobiography Prompts Plagiarism Suit", The New York Times, 7 February 1967, p. 18.
- "Hedy Lamarr Sues Corel". 7 April 1998. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011.
- Sprenger, Polly (30 November 1998). "Corel Caves to Actress Hedy Lamarr". Wired News. Archived from the original on 2013-06-15.
- "Hedy Lamarr". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- "Hedy Lamarr". Los Angeles Times Hollywood Star Project. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- "Calling Hedy Lamarr", Mischief Films.
- Ivanis, Daniel J. "The stars come out: Recruiting ad featuring Hedy Lamarr creates 'buzz't". Boeing Frontiers. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- 1940 US Census via Ancestry.com
- To Tell The Truth - Hedy Lamarr + Anthony Loder + Denise Loder Deluca. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- "Frequency Hopping". Hourglass Group. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
- "Positively Poisonous, Medusa's Heroin, Beauty and Brains". Dark Matters: Twisted But True. Season 2. 7 September 2011. Science Channel. http://science.discovery.com/tv-shows/dark-matters-twisted-but-true/videos/poisonous-heroin-beauty-and-brains.htm. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- "'Dark Knight Rises' star Anne Hathaway: 'Gotham City is full of grace'". The Los Angeles Times. 29 December 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "BCS launches celebrity film campaign to raise profile of the IT industry". http://www.bcs.org/. BCS. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
- Barton, Ruth (2010). Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. ISBN 978-0813136547.
- Lamarr, Hedy (1966). Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman. New York: Bartholomew House. ASIN B0007DMMN8.
- Rhodes, Richard (2012). Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0307742957.
- Shearer, Stephen Michael (2010). Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312550987.
- Young, Christopher (1979). The Films of Hedy Lamarr. New York: Citadel Press. ISBN 978-0806505794.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hedy Lamarr.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Hedy Lamarr|
- Official website of the Estate of Hedy Lamarr (CMG Worldwide).
- Hedy Lamarr Foundation
- Hedy Lamarr profile at the National Inventors Hall of Fame
- Patent 2292387, owned by Hedy Kiesler Markey AKA Hedy Lamarr
- "The unlikely life of inventor and Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr" (article and audio excerpts), Alex McClintock and Sharon Carleton, Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 July 2014.
- Hedy Lamarr at Famous Women Inventors
- Hedy Lamarr at the Internet Movie Database
- Hedy Lamarr at the TCM Movie Database
- Hedy Lamarr at Reel Classics
- Happy 100th Birthday Hedy Lamarr, Movie Star who Paved the Way for Wifi at CNet
- "Most Beautiful Woman" by Day, Inventor by Night at NPR
- Hedy Lamarr at Inventions
- Hedy Lamarr: Q&A with Author Patrick Agan, Andre Soares, Alt Film Guide, circa 2013.
- Hedy Lamarr profile at Virtual History (photographs and literature) (ignore inaccurate year of birth at this site)
- Hedy at a Hundred - the centenary of Lamarr’s birth, in the Ames Tribune, Nov., 2014.