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Hedy Lamarr file photo [31596]

Hedy Lamarr

Given NameHedy
Born9 Nov 1914
Died19 Jan 2000
CountryAustria, United States


ww2dbaseHedwig Eva Maria Kiesler was born to Emil Kiesler and Gertrud Kiesler (née Lichtwitz) in Vienna, Austria-Hungary in Nov 1914. Her father, a banker, was born to a Galician Jewish family in Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukraine), and her mother, a pianist, was from a upper-class Hungarian Jewish family from Budapest. Her mother had converted to Catholicism and had raised her daughter, "Hedy", as a Catholic. She showed interest in theater and film at a young age, while her father encouraged her curiosity in science and technology. The 1930 film "Geld auf der Straße" ("Money on the Street") was the first film she appeared in, as an extra, followed by the 1931 film "Sturm im Wasserglas" ("Storm in a Water Glass") in which she had a minor speaking role. As her fame slowly grew, she married Austrian armament firm Hirtenberger Patronen-Fabrik chairman Friedrich Mandl. The marriage was opposed by her parents, as Mandl had close business ties to the Italian Fascist government. At the numerous parties that Mandl held at their stately home, she at times spoke at length with scientists and engineers working for various weapon design firms, continuing to feed her interest in technology. Increasingly finding Mandl a controlling and unreasonable husband, she disguised herself as a maid and fled her husband, and Austria in general, in 1937. She moved to the United States and signed on with the American media firm Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), and it was at this time she legally changed her name to Hedy Lamarr (after the silent film star Barbara La Marr) in order to distant herself from a controversial film she had done in Vienna in 1933. She first appeared on the big screen in 1938, and her fame grew very quickly. In 1938, Germany annexed Austria; shortly afterwards, she helped her mother move to the United States (her father had already passed away, in 1935); Lamarr would later find out that her paternal aunt Frimet Pines (née Kiesler) would perish at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during the Nazi German occupation.

ww2dbaseAmidst Lamarr's Hollywood stardom, she continued to be interested in science and technology. she wanted to join the nascent US National Inventors Council, but was told that as a movie star she could better help the war effort by selling war bonds, which she did, performing in numerous war bond drives. Learning that radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be jammed by the enemy, she thought of creating a frequency-hopping signal to defeat jamming attempts. She recruited composer and pianist George Antheil, and the pair successfully synchronized a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals. Their invention was granted US Patent 2,292,387 in Aug 1942 filed under her married name Hedy Kiesler Markey (Note: her second husband was Gene Markey of Hollywood and naval fame), but the US Navy did not adopt the use due to technological difficulties in implementation and tradition (the US military typically used inventions created by military engineers, not from the civilian sector). An updated version of their design was finally used by the US Navy in 1962. Decades later, the principles of their work were incorporated into Bluetooth and GPS technologies. In 1997, Lamarr and Antheil jointly received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award. In the same year, she became the first woman to receive the Invention Convention's BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award. In 1998, she was awarded the Viktor Kaplan Medal by the Austrian Association of Patent Holders and Inventors.

ww2dbaseAfter the war, Lamarr left MGM and formed a production company with Jack Chertok. The highest grossing film of her career, "Samson and Delilah" of 1949, which saw her playing the titular character Delilah, won two Academy Awards and brought in US$25,600,000. In 1953, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Her film career began to decline in the 1950s. In the late 1950s, she designed the Villa LaMarr ski resort in Aspen, Colorado, United States, which was developed by Lamarr and her fifth husband W. Howard Lee. She divorced her sixth husband in 1965, and became increasingly secluded afterwards, maintaining contact with family and friends through ample use of her telephone, but rarely in person. She moved to Miami Beach, Florida, United States in 1981. She passed away from heart disease in Casselberry, Florida, in Jan 2000. Her son Anthony Loder (with third husband John Loder) spread part of her ashes in Vienna Woods (Wienerwald) in Austria in accordance with her last wishes. In 2014, she was posthumously inducted into the US National Inventor's Hall of Fame for her work with frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology. Later in 2014, Loder's request for the remaining of her ashes to be buried in an honorary grave at the Vienna Central Cemetery was approved.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Jan 2022

Hedy Lamarr Interactive Map

Hedy Lamarr Timeline

9 Nov 1914 Hedwig Kiesler was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary.
10 Aug 1933 Hedwig Kiesler married Fritz Mandl at the Karlische.
10 Jun 1941 Hedy Lamarr (as Hedy Kiesler Markey) and George Antheil submitted their frequency-hopping system design for a US patent.
11 Aug 1942 Hedy Lamarr (as Hedy Kiesler Markey) and George Antheil were granted a US patent for their frequency-hopping system design.
19 Jan 2000 Hedy Lamarr passed away from heart disease in Casselberry, Florida, United States.
7 Nov 2014 An urn containing Hedy Lamarr's ashes was buried at the Vienna Central Cemetery in Group 33 G, Tomb No. 80.


Technical drawings related to the frequency-hopping system design by Hedy Lamarr (as Hedy Kiesler Markey) and George Antheil, 1941

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Technical drawings related to the frequency-hopping system design by Hedy Lamarr (as Hedy Kiesler Markey) and George Antheil, 1941

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