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Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000) was an Austrianmarker-born American actress and scientist. Though known primarily for her film career as a major contract star of MGM's "Golden Age", she also co-invented an early form of spread spectrum communications technology, a key to modern wireless communication.

Early life and career in Europe

Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Viennamarker, Austria-Hungary, to Jewish parents Gertrud (née Lichtwitz), a pianist and Budapestmarker native who came from the "Jewish haute bourgeoisie", and Lembergmarker-born Emil Kiesler, a successful bank director. She studied ballet and piano at age 10. When she worked with Max Reinhardt in Berlinmarker, 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 Czechoslovakmarker film made in Praguemarker, in which she played the 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 Viennamarker-based arms manufacturer 13 years her senior. In her autobiography Ecstasy 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.)

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 Ecstasy and Me, Lamarr wrote that fascist dictators Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler both attended Mandl's grand parties. She related that in 1937 she disguised herself as one of her maids and fled to Paris, where she obtained a divorce, 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.

Movie career in Hollywood

First she went to Paris, then met Louis B. Mayer in Londonmarker. 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 La Marr, who had died in 1926 from a drug overdose.
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 Statesmarker on April 10, 1953.

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

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 musical 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 August 11, 1942, 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 after the patent had expired. 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. In 1998, Ottawa wireless technology developer Wi-LAN, Inc. "acquired a 49 percent claim to the patent from Lamarr for an undisclosed amount of stock" (Eliza Schmidkunz, Inside GNSS); Antheil had died in 1959.

Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as COFDM used in Wi-Fi network connections and CDMA used in some cordless and wireless telephones.Similar patents had been granted to others earlier, such as in Germany in 1935 to Telefunken engineers Paul Kotowski and Kurt Dannehl who also received and 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.

Death

Lamarr died in Altamonte Springs, Floridamarker (near Orlandomarker) on January 19, 2000. Her son Anthony Loder took her ashes to Austria and spread them in the Wienerwaldmarker forest, in accordance with her wishes.

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.

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.

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.

Marriages

Briefly engaged to the German actor, Fred Doederlein and later, actor George Montgomery in 1942. 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). 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).
  • 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 later married film star Gene Tierney.
  • Lewis J. Boies (b. 1920), a lawyer (her divorce lawyer), married 1963–65.


Filmography





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. 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.
  • 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.


See also



References

  • "Hedy Lamarr", Half-Life2.net(December 13, 2004)[25926] Retrieved on 2008-12-21
  • Robert A. Scholtz, "The Origins of Spread-Spectrum Communications," IEEE Transactions on Communications, Vol. 30, No. 5, May 1982, p. 822.
  • Robert Price, "Further Notes and Anecdotes on Spread-Spectrum Origins," IEEE Transactions on Communications, Vol. 31, No. 1, January 1983, p. 85.


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