Happy birthday Hedy Lamarr!

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Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1914—January 19, 2000) was an Austro-Hungarian born American film actress. She is remembered for starring opposite some of Hollywood's leading men in films like Boom Town (1940) White Cargo (1942), and Tortilla Flat (1942). She also invented a technique for spread-spectrum communication, which is now the basis for technology like Bluetooth.

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Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, in then Austria-Hungary, to Gertrud "Trude" and Emil Kiesler.

Lamarr landed abruptly in the spotlight at the age of eighteen after she was cast in a sexually-charged Czech film called Ecstasy (1933) by Gustav Machatý. The film was controversial because it showed a close up of Lamarr's face while her character was having an orgasm. She is also shown nude in the film. Her first husband, Friedrich Mandl, objected to the film and to much of Lamarr's acting.

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Mandl was also the person to introduce Lamarr to science, himself a munitions manufacturer who often consorted with scientists and others in the field of military technology.

Escaping her husband, she fled to Paris and soon changed her name to Hedy Lamarr. In 1938, she made her American film debut with Algiers (1938). She followed with a string of films in which she starred opposite some of Hollywood's major male actors, usually in the role of the exotic seductress. Some of these include Boom Town (1940) White Cargo (1942), Tortilla Flat (1942), and Ziegfeld Girl (1941).

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In 1949, she starred as Delilah in Samson and Delilah, which was the year's highest grossing film. But it wasn't long before her career lost its vitality. Her last role was as Joan of Arc in The Story of Mankind (1957).

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In an entirely different field, she had been working with a friend, composer George Antheil, on an idea for frequency hopping. They had discussed the problem of radio interference during World War II, and their idea was a piano-controlled frequency hopping device that would ultimately encrypt signals and be adopted in 1962 by the U.S. military. They were awarded the patent in 1942. Their idea serves as the basis for modern spread-spectrum communications technology such as Bluetooth and other technologies.

During the 1960s, she was accused of shoplifting on two occasions, but in both instances charges were dropped. She released her autobiography, Ecstasy and Me in 1967. Following this, she almost entirely retreated from public life for the next three decades.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 09 November 2014
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