Hedy Lamarr

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Hedy Lamarr

Portrait of Hedy Lamarr
Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler
November 9, 1913(1913-11-09)
Vienna, Austria
Died January 19, 2000 (aged 86)
Orlando, Florida
Years active 1930 - 1958
Spouse(s) Fritz Mandl (1933-1937)
Gene Markey (1939-1941)
John Loder (1943-1947)
Teddy Stauffer (1951-1952)
W. Howard Lee (1953-1960)
Lewis J. Boies (1963-1965)

Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1913 – January 19, 2000) was an Austrian-born American actress and scientist. Though known primarily for her acting (she was a major MGM contract star), she also co-invented an early form of spread spectrum communications technology, a key to modern wireless communication.[1]


[edit] Early life & career in Europe

Lamarr was born as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, the daughter of Jewish parents Gertrud (née Lichtwitz), a pianist and Budapest native who came from the "Jewish haute bourgeoisie", and Lemberg-born Emil Kiesler, a successful bank director.[2][3] She studied ballet and piano. When working with Max Reinhardt in Berlin, he called her the "most beautiful woman in Europe". Soon, the teenage girl played major roles in German movies, alongside stars like Heinz Rühmann and Hans Moser.

In early 1933, she starred in Gustav Machatý's notorious film Ecstasy, a Czechoslovak film made in Prague, in which she played a love-hungry young wife of an indifferent old husband. Closeups of her face in orgasm, and long shots of her running nude through the woods, gave the film notoriety.

On 10 August 1933 she married Friedrich Mandl, a Vienna-based arms manufacturer, 13 years her senior. In her autobiography Ecstacy and Me, Lamarr described Mandl as an extremely controlling man who sometimes tried to keep her shut up in their mansion. The Austrian fascist bought up as many copies of the film as he could possibly find, as he objected to her nudity and "the expression on her face". (Lamarr later claimed the looks of passion were the result of the director poking her in the bottom with a safety pin.)[4]

Mandl prevented her from pursuing her acting career, and instead took her to meetings with technicians and business partners. In these meetings, the mathematically-talented Lamarr learned about military technology. Otherwise, she had to stay at castle Schwarzenau. She later related that even though Mandl was part Jewish, he was consorting with Nazi industrialists, which infuriated her. In Ecstacy and Me, Lamarr wrote that fascist dictators Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler both attended Mandl's grand parties. In her autobiography, Lamarr related that in 1937, she disguised herself as one of her maids and fled to Paris, where she obtained a divorce, and then moved on to London. According to another version of the episode, she persuaded Mandl to allow her to attend a party wearing all her expensive jewelry, later drugged him with the help of her maid, and made her escape out of the country with the jewelry.

[edit] Movie Career in Hollywood

First she went to Paris, then met Louis B. Mayer in London. After he hired her, at his insistence, she changed her name to Hedy Lamarr, choosing the surname in homage to a beautiful film star of the silent era, Barbara LaMarr,[4] who had died in 1926 from a drug overdose.

in The Conspirators (1944)

In Hollywood, she was usually cast as glamorous and seductive. Her American debut was in Algiers (1938). Her many films include Boom Town (1940), White Cargo (1942), and Tortilla Flat (1942), based on the novel by John Steinbeck. White Cargo, one of Lamarr's biggest hits at MGM, contains arguably her most famous film quote, "I am Tondelayo". In 1941, she was cast alongside two other Hollywood beauties, Lana Turner and Judy Garland in the musical extravaganza Ziegfeld Girl.

She made 18 films from 1940 to 1949 even though she had two children during that time (in 1945 and 1947). She left MGM in 1945; Lamarr 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).

The publication of her autobiography Ecstasy and Me (1967) took place about a year after accusations of shoplifting, and a year after Andy Warhol's short film Hedy (1966), also known as The Shoplifter. The controversy surrounding the shoplifting charges coincided with an aborted return to the screen in Picture Mommy Dead (1966). The role was ultimately filled by Zsa Zsa Gabor.

In the ensuing years, Lamarr retreated from public life, and settled in Florida. She returned to the headlines in 1991 when the 78 year old former actress was again accused of shoplifting, although charges were eventually dropped.

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

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Hedy Lamarr has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Blvd.[5]

[edit] Frequency-Hopping Spread-Spectrum Invention

Avant garde composer George Antheil, a son of German immigrants and neighbor of Lamarr, had experimented with automated control of muscial instruments, including his music for Ballet Mecanique, originally written for Fernand Léger's 1924 abstract film. This score involved multiple player pianos playing simultaneously.

Together, Antheil and Lamarr submitted the idea of a Secret Communication System in June 1941. On 11 August 1942, U.S. Patent 2,292,387  was granted to Antheil and "Hedy Kiesler Markey", Lamarr's married name at the time. 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 jam.

The idea was ahead of its time, and not feasible owing to the state of mechanical technology in 1942. It was not implemented in the USA until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba,[6] after the patent had expired. Neither Lamarr nor Antheil (who died in 1959) made any money from the patent. Perhaps owing to this lag in development, the patent was little-known until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Lamarr an award for this contribution.[1]

Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as COFDM used in WiFi network connections and CDMA used in some cordless and wireless telephones.[7] Similar patents had been granted to others earlier, like in Germany in 1935 to Telefunken engineers Paul Kotowski and Kurt Dannehl who also received U.S. Patent 2,158,662  and U.S. Patent 2,211,132  in 1939 and 1940. Blackwell, Martin and Vernam's Secrecy Communication System patent from 1920 (1598673) does seem to lay the communications groundwork for Kiesler and Antheil's patent which employed the techniques in the autonomous control of torpedoes.

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

[edit] Death

John Hodiak and Lamarr in A Lady Without Passport (1950)

Lamarr died in Altamonte Springs, Florida (near Orlando) on January 19, 2000. Her son Anthony Loder took her ashes to Vienna and spread them in the Wienerwald, according to her wishes.[8]

[edit] Legacy

In 1998, a vector illustration of Lamarr's face was used by Corel Corporation on the packaging and in the publicity for its CorelDRAW 8 software. Lamarr sued Corel for damages relating to unauthorized use of her likeness. The case was resolved in 1999 and settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, under terms that allowed Corel five years of exclusive rights to the image.[9]

In 2003, the Boeing corporation 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.[citation needed]

In 2005, the first Inventor's Day in German-speaking countries was held in her honor on November 9, on what would have been her 92nd birthday.[citation needed]

Dr. Kleiner, a fictional scientist in Valve Software's acclaimed game Half-Life 2, has a pet headcrab that he names after her.

[edit] Marriages

Briefly engaged to the German actor, Fred Doederlein and later, actor George Montgomery in 1942.[10] Lamarr was also married to:

  • Friedrich Mandl (1900–1977), married 1933–37; chairman of Hirtenberger Patronen-Fabrik, a leading armaments firm founded by his father, Alexander Mandl. Mandl, partially of Jewish descent, was a supporter of Austrofascism, although not Nazism.
  • Gene Markey (1895-1980), screenwriter and producer, married 1939–41; son (adopted in 1941, after their divorce), James Lamarr Markey (b. 1939).[11] 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 longer than the four weeks she had known Markey.
  • John Loder (born John Muir Lowe, 1898–1988), actor, married 1943–47; two children: Anthony Loder (b. 1947) and Denise Loder (b. 1945). Loder adopted Hedy's son, James Lamarr Markey, and gave him his surname. 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. Anthony Loder is featured in the European documentary film Calling Hedy Lamarr (2004).[8]
  • Ernest "Ted" Stauffer (1909-1991), nightclub owner, restaurateur, and former bandleader, married 1951–52.
  • W. Howard Lee (1909–1981), a Texas oilman, married 1953–60. In 1960, he married film star Gene Tierney.
  • Lewis J. Boies (b. 1920), a lawyer, married 1963–65.

[edit] Filmography

[edit] Personal life

  • In 1965 Lamarr made headlines for being arrested for shoplifting; charges were eventually dropped. This situation played out again in 1991.
  • According to her autobiography, Ecstasy and Me (1966), once while running away from Friedrich Mandl, she 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 hidden. 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.[12] Lamarr later sued the publisher claiming 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.[13][14]
  • In an interview included in the DVD release of Blazing Saddles (1974), 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 of publicity. In one scene, one character even warns another that Hedy would sue. Brooks says they settled out of court for a small sum.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Electronic Frontier Foundation (11 March 1997). Movie Legend Hedy Lamarr to be Given Special Award at EFF's Sixth Annual Pioneer Awards. Press release. http://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer/1997.php. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. 
  2. ^ HIGH CLASS WHORE.(actress Hedy Lamarr) | Article from CineAction | HighBeam Research
  3. ^ Search Results
  4. ^ a b "The ecstasy". The Independent. January 30, 2005. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/film-and-tv/features/the-ecstasy-488903.html. Retrieved on 2008-02-21. 
  5. ^ Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "Hollywood Walk of Fame directory". http://www.hollywoodchamber.net/icons/walk_directory.asp. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. 
  6. ^ IEEE - Hedy Lamarr, 1914 - 2000
  7. ^ MicroTimes: The Birth Of Spread Spectrum
  8. ^ a b Calling Hedy Lamarr, Mischief Films
  9. ^ http://www.theregister.co.uk/1998/12/02/corel_settles_in_lamarr_pic/
  10. ^ "Hedy Lamarr Engaged: Screen Star, 27, to Be Bride of George Montgomery, 25", The New York Times, 25 March 1942, p. 23
  11. ^ "Hedy Lamarr Adopts Baby Boy", The New York Times, 5 November 1941, p. 30
  12. ^ Hedy Lamarr, with Leo Guild and Cy Rice, "Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman", NY: Bartholomew House, 1966
  13. ^ "Hedy Lamarr Loses Suit to Halt Book", The New York Times, 27 September 1966, p. 74
  14. ^ "Lamarr Autobiography Prompts Plaigarism Suit", The New York Times, February 1967, p. 18

"Hedy Lamarr", Half-Life2.net(December 13, 2004)[1] Retrieved on 2008-12-21

[edit] External links

NAME Lamarr, Hedy
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Kiesler, Hedwig Eva Maria
SHORT DESCRIPTION Actress, inventor
DATE OF BIRTH November 9, 1913
PLACE OF BIRTH Vienna, Austria
DATE OF DEATH January 19, 2000
PLACE OF DEATH Orlando, Florida
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