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Full name: Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler
Born: November 9, 1914
Born Place: Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died: January 19, 2000 (aged 85)
Death Place: Casselberry, Florida, U.S.
Resting place: Vienna Woods, Austria
Other names: Hedy Kiesler
United States (1953−2000)
Years active: 1930−1958
(m. 1933; div. 1937)
(m. 1939; div. 1941)
(m. 1943; div. 1947)
(m. 1951; div. 1952)
W. Howard Lee
(m. 1953; div. 1960)
Lewis J. Boies
(m. 1963; div. 1965)
Hedy Lamarr ( born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler; September or November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000) was an Austrian-born American actress, inventor, and film producer. She appeared in 30 films over a 28-year career in Europe and the United States and co-invented an early version of frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication, originally intended for torpedo guidance.
Lamarr was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, and acted in a number of Austrian, German, and Czech films in her brief early film career, including the controversial Ecstasy (1933). In 1937, she fled from her husband, a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer, secretly moving to Paris and then on to London. There she met Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio, who offered her a Hollywood movie contract, where he began promoting her as “the world’s most beautiful woman”.
She became a star through her performance in Algiers (1938), her first American film. She starred opposite Clark Gable in Boom Town and Comrade X (both 1940), and James Stewart in Come Live with Me and Ziegfeld Girl (both 1941). Her other MGM films include Lady of the Tropics (1939), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), as well as Crossroads and White Cargo (both 1942); she was also borrowed by Warner Bros. for The Conspirators, and by RKO for Experiment Perilous (both 1944).
Dismayed by being typecast, Lamarr co-founded a new production studio and starred in its films: The Strange Woman (1946), and Dishonored Lady (1947). Her greatest success was as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949). She also acted on television before the release of her final film, The Female Animal (1958). She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
At the beginning of World War II, Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system using frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology for Allied torpedoes, intended to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. She also helped improve aircraft aerodynamics for Howard Hughes while they dated during the war. Although the US Navy did not adopt Lamarr and Antheil’s invention until 1957, various spread-spectrum techniques are incorporated into Bluetooth technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of Wi-Fi. Recognition of the value of their work resulted in the pair being posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
EARLY LIFE & EDUCATION
Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, the only child of Emil Kiesler (1880–1935) and Gertrud “Trude” Kiesler (née Lichtwitz; 1894–1977). Her father was born to a Galician-Jewish family in Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukraine), and was a bank director at the Creditanstalt-Bankverein. Her mother was a concert pianist, born in Budapest to an upper-class Hungarian-Jewish family. She converted to Catholicism as an adult, at the insistence of her first husband, and raised her daughter Hedy as a Catholic as well, though she was not formally baptized at the time.
As a child, Kiesler showed an interest in acting and was fascinated by theatre and film. At the age of 12, she won a beauty contest in Vienna. She also began to associate invention with her father, who would take her out on walks, explaining how various technologies in society functioned.
Kiesler attended a private school, where she received piano, ballet, language, and natural sciences lessons.
After the Anschluss, she helped get her mother out of Austria and to the United States, where Gertrud Kiesler later became an American citizen. She put “Hebrew” as her race on her petition for naturalization, a term that had been frequently used in Europe.
MARRIAGES AND CHILDREN
Lamarr was married and divorced six times and had three children:
- Friedrich Mandl (married 1933–37), chairman of the Hirtenberger Patronen-Fabrik
- Gene Markey (married 1939–41), screenwriter and producer. She adopted a boy, James Lamarr Markey (born January 9, 1939) during her marriage with Markey. In 2001, James found out he was the out-of-wedlock son of Lamarr and actor John Loder, whom she later married as her third husband.
- John Loder (married 1943–47), actor. James Lamarr Markey was adopted by Loder as James Lamarr Loder. During the marriage, Lamarr and Loder had two additional children: Denise Loder (born January 19, 1945), married Larry Colton, a writer, and former baseball player; and Anthony Loder (born February 1, 1947), married Roxanne, who worked for illustrator James McMullan. They both appeared in the documentary films Calling Hedy Lamarr (2004), and Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017).
- Ernest “Ted” Stauffer (married 1951–52), nightclub owner, restaurateur, and former bandleader
- W. Howard Lee (married 1953–60), a Texas oilman (he later married film actress Gene Tierney)
- Lewis J. Boies (married 1963–65), Lamarr’s divorce lawyer
Following her sixth and final divorce in 1965, Lamarr remained unmarried for the last 35 years of her life.
Lamarr died in Casselberry, Florida, on January 19, 2000, of heart disease, aged 85. According to her wishes, she was cremated and her son Anthony Loder spread her ashes in Austria’s Vienna Woods.
|1930||Money on the Street||Young Girl||Georg Alexander||Original title: Geld auf der Straße|
|1931||Storm in a Water Glass||Secretary||Paul Otto||Original title: Sturm im Wasserglas|
|1931||The Trunks of Mr. O.F.||Helene||Alfred Abel||Original title: Die Koffer des Herrn O.F.|
|1932||No Money Needed||Käthe Brandt||Heinz Rühmann||Original title: Man braucht kein Geld|
|1933||Ecstasy||Eva Hermann||Aribert Mog||Original title: Ekstase|
|1939||Lady of the Tropics||Manon deVargnes Carey||Robert Taylor|
|1940||I Take This Woman||Georgi Gragore Decker||Spencer Tracy|
|1940||Boom Town||Karen Vanmeer||Clark Gable|
|1940||Comrade X||Golubka/ Theodore Yahupitz/ Lizvanetchka “Lizzie”||Clark Gable|
|1941||Come Live with Me||Johnny Jones||James Stewart|
|1941||Ziegfeld Girl||Sandra Kolter||James Stewart|
|1941||H.M. Pulham, Esq.||Marvin Myles Ransome||Robert Young|
|1942||Tortilla Flat||Dolores Ramirez||Spencer Tracy|
|1942||Crossroads||Lucienne Talbot||William Powell|
|1942||White Cargo||Tondelayo||Walter Pidgeon|
|1944||The Heavenly Body||Vicky Whitley||William Powell|
|1944||The Conspirators||Irene Von Mohr||Paul Henreid|
|1944||Experiment Perilous||Allida Bederaux||George Brent|
|1945||Her Highness and the Bellboy||Princess Veronica||Robert Walker|
|1946||The Strange Woman||Jenny Hager||George Sanders||and Producer|
|1947||Dishonored Lady||Madeleine Damien||Dennis O’Keefe||and Producer|
|1948||Let’s Live a Little||Dr. J.O. Loring||Robert Cummings||and Producer|
|1949||Samson and Delilah||Delilah||Victor Mature||Her first film in Technicolor|
|1950||A Lady Without Passport||Marianne Lorress||John Hodiak|
|1950||Copper Canyon||Lisa Roselle||Ray Milland|
|1951||My Favorite Spy||Lily Dalbray||Bob Hope|
|1954||Loves of Three Queens||Helen of Troy,|
Joséphine de Beauharnais,
Genevieve of Brabant
|Original title: L’amante di Paride|
|1957||The Story of Mankind||Joan of Arc||Ronald Colman|
|1958||The Female Animal||Vanessa Windsor||George Nader|
AWARDS AND HONOURS
In 1939, Lamarr was voted the “most promising new actress” of 1938 in a poll of area voters conducted by a Philadelphia Record film critic.
In 1951, British moviegoers voted Lamarr the tenth best actress of 1950, for her performance in Samson and Delilah.
In 1960, Lamarr was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the motion picture industry,] at 6247 Hollywood Blvd adjacent to Vine Street where the walk is centered.
In 1997, Lamarr and George Antheil were jointly honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award.
Also in 1997, Lamarr was the first woman to receive the Invention Convention’s BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, known as the “Oscars of inventing”.
In 2014, Lamarr and Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology.
Also in 2014, Lamarr was given an honorary grave in Vienna’s Central Cemetery, where the remaining portion of her ashes was buried in November, shortly before her 100th birthday.
Asteroid 32730 Lamarr, discovered by Karl Reinmuth at Heidelberg Observatory in 1951, was named in her memory. The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on August 27, 2019 (M.P.C. 115894).
On November 6, 2020, a satellite named after her (ÑuSat 14 or “Hedy”, COSPAR 2020-079F) was launched into space.