The Most Beautiful Woman in Film
Often called “The Most Beautiful Woman in Film,” Hedy Lamarr’s beauty and screen presence made her one of the most popular actresses of her day.
She was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November 9, 1914 in Vienna, Austria. At 17 years old, Hedy starred in her first film, a German project called Geld auf der Strase. Hedy continued her film career by working on both German and Czechoslavakian productions. The 1932 German film Exstase brought her to the attention of Hollywood producers, and she soon signed a contract with MGM.
Once in Hollywood, she officially changed her name to Hedy Lamarr and starred in her first Hollywood film, Algiers (1938), opposite Charles Boyer. She continued to land parts opposite the most popular and talented actors of the day, including Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, and Jimmy Stewart. Some of her films include an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat (1942), White Cargo (1942), Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949), and The Female Animal (1957).
Beyond the Glitz & Glamour of Hollywood
As if being a beautiful, talented actress was not enough, Hedy was also a gifted mathematician, scientist, and innovator. Alongside the famed composer George Antheil, Lamarr patented the "Secret Communication System" during World War II. Her idea - now referred to as "frequency hopping" - pertained to a way for radio guidance transmitters and torpedo's receivers to jump simultaneously from frequency to frequency. The Hollywood star's invention sought to put an end to enemies' interception of classified military strategies, signals, and messages. While the technology of the time prevented the feasibility of "frequency hopping" at first, the advent of the transistor and its later downsizing propelled Lamarr's idea far in both the military and the cell phone industry.
Overall, the Hollywood actress introduced the technology that would serve as the foundation of modern-day WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth communication systems. Her creation of "frequency hopping," which holds an estimated worth of $30 billion, led her to receive the Pioneer Award of the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as the Invention Convention's Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award.
Lamarr's impressive technological achievement combined with her acting talent and star quality makes "The Most Beautiful Woman in Film" one of the most accomplished and intelligent women in not only Hollywood but also STEM.