Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1913 - January 19, 2000) was an actress and communications innovator. She was known as The Most Beautiful Woman In Films and also as the inventor of the first form of spread spectrum.
She was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria and died in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
While married to her first husband, Fritz Mandel, an arms manufacturer, she socialized with Adolf Hitler and Mussolini. She also became educated technically in his trade. Mandel was obsessed with his wife and never let her out of his sight. She hated him and his Nazi friends and finally escaped to London by drugging him.
She met Louis B. Mayer of MGM in London. He hired her and changed her name to Hedy Lamarr, the surname in homage to a famously beautiful film star of the silent era, Barbara LaMarr. She had already appeared in several European films, including Ecstasy, in which she played a love-hungry young wife of an indifferent old husband. Closeups of her face in passion, and long shots of her running naked through the woods, gave the film notoriety.
In Hollywood, she appeared in many films, usually cast as glamorous and seductive, including White Cargo (1942) and Tortilla Flat (1942), based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Her biggest success came in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949) with Victor Mature as the Bible strongman.
Secret Communications System
Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil received patent number 2,292,387 for their "Secret Communications System." 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 to jam. The patent was little-known until recently because Lamarr applied for it under her then-married name of Hedy Kiesler Markey. Neither Lamarr nor Antheil made any money from the patent.
Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council but was told she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell war bonds. She once raised $7,000,000 at one event.
In one story presented in her autobiography, Ecstacy and Me, once while running from Mandel she slipped into a brothel and hid in an empty room.
While her husband searched the brothel a customer came in the room and she had sex with the man so she could remain hidden. She was finally successful when she hired a new maid that looked like herself, drugged the maid and used the maid's uniform as a disguise to escape.
She later sued the publisher claiming that many of the anecdotes were fabricated by the ghost writer.
"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid." — Hedy Lamarr