Who was Hedy Lamarr?

Most people will know the lady known as Hedy Lamarr as one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses back in the Golden Age of film in the 1940’s, starring in films with Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Jimmy Stewart to name but a few.

However, Hedy Lamarr was also a genius inventor, so here are some interesting facts about this lady’s life.

Hedy Lamarr

She was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on 9th November 1914, in Vienna, Austria. She was of Jewish decent and came from a wealthy family with her father Emil Kiesler being a banker from Lember.

Hedy always dreamed of becoming an actress and first entered the film world in 1931 in Czechoslovakia, which included a controversial film named Ecstasy in 1932.

Hedy was married to a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer named Fritz Mandl at the time.

In 1938 after MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer had signed Hedy to a contract, she made her American film debut in films like Algiers, White Cargo and Casablanca, with her last movie being The Female Animal in 1958. She then retired to Florida.

During her time as an actress Hedy Lamarr also had a secret workshop where she liked to experiment with inventions. During the Second World War it was known that US Navy torpedoes were easy to signal jam, causing them to go off-course.

Hedy and the composer George Antheil realised that a radio signal could change frequencies with the same technologies that a piano player changes his notes, which would then make the signal impossible to jam.

They came up with the FHSS – frequency hopping spread spectrum and although Hedy received a patent for it in 1942, the US military did not use the technology until 1962 when the Cuban missile crises hit. Hedy’s technology was used to control torpedoes and communication between multiple electronic devices.

These days FHSS is the technology used to service Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

Hedy was married and divorced six times and had three children – James Loder, Anthony Loder and Denise Loder.

Hedy Lamarr died on 19th January 2000 in the city of Casselberry, Florida.