Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday "mie"-ography

Hedy Lamarr.
Pin up girl.
Thats right. I said it.

She was born in Austria, in 1913 as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, daughter of a bank director father and a mother who was a pianist. Raised as a Catholic, she studied ballet, and piano in her youth. She was noticed early on, and declared "the most beautiful woman in Europe", and shortly after that, in her teen years, she began accepting major roles in German made movies.
In 1933, she married a Austrian arms manufacturer named Friedrich Mandl. 13 years older than her, and a fascist, he did not approve of a film she had recently made (nude scenes,) and tried to buy every version of the film. He did not like her facial expressions during the nude scenes. Sadly, to get those expressions, there was a director poking her bare bottom with a safety pin. OUCH!
Anyhow. He prevented her from acting, and instead, took her to meetings with technicians, and business partners. Mathematically talented, she started learning about military technology during this time in her life.
In 1937, she literally ran away from home. To Paris. Then London, where she met Louis B. Mayer. He is the one who had her change her name to Hedy Lamarr. LaMarr was a last name taken from a famously beautiful silent screen actress who had died of TB that Meyer was fond of.
She made her way to Hollywood, where she began to be cast as a glamorous and seductive. She got many roles, very quickly, including a role in the movie Zigfield Tirl, with Lana Turner, and Judy Garland.
She is well remembered for playing Delilah in Samson and Delilah, the highest grossing film on 1949. In 1953, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States. She also got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1967 there was a publication of her autobiograpy, and in 1966 Andy Warhol made a short film called Hedy.(with a drag queen playing her.)

Her role as an inventor came about in 1941. She was friends with George Antheil, who was the son of German Immigrants. Together, they got a patent granted for a frequency hopped spread spectrum invention. It used a piano roll to change between 88 different frequencies, and was intended to make radio guided torpedoes harder for the enemies to detect, and jam.
However, technology during that era was not exacly up to snuff, and it was not realized until 1962, when it was used by ships during a blockade of Cuba. Their patent had expired, so they never saw any money for it. The frequency hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread spectrum communication technology that we use to this day, in cordless phones, and WiFi Internet connections. She wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but was told, instead, that she could help the war effort more by selling war bonds. She once raised 7 million dollars, for just one event.
Hedy died in 2000, in Florida. In 2003, Boeing corporation honored her as a woman of science, by running a series of recruitment ads featuring her not for her movie roles, but for her invention skills.
She was married a total of six times, and had 3 children.

Good Hedy quotes? Sure!
"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid."
"Films have a certain place in a certain time period. Technology is forever."


CamiKaos said...


Daryl said...

Iknew that about her inventiveness

Come get/pick up your award at my place .. seriously

My expressions LIVE said...

Amazing woman....!!!

snowdriftd said...

There's a play about this story opening in NY this summer called "Frequency Hopping"...sounds cool...

holly said...

i knew about her inventions *because* of cosmopolitan about 10 years back. yes, that magazine was a surprising source of information. it was a doctors-waiting-room kind of thing. usually i read high brow stuff like, em, er, the economist...
yeah...that's it...