Hailed by director Max Reinhart as “the most beautiful woman in Europe,” actress Hedy Lamarr also patented what would become a key component of wireless technology. Born Hedwig Kiesler, Lamarr made her film debut at age 17 in Geld Auf Der Strase. The following year she shocked audiences by appearing nude in several scenes in Ecstasy, which launched her career in European films. In the late 1930s she fled both Germany and her unhappy marriage. She met film producer Louis B. Mayer in London and he persuaded her to change her name and move to America, where she earned praise for her first American film, Algiers, in 1938. She went on to star in films including Tortilla Flat in 1942 and Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah in 1949, though her career foundered in the late 1950s. In 1942, she collaborated with avant-garde composer George Antheil to create radio transmitters and receivers that could switch frequencies in synch to avoid jamming by using the mechanism of a player piano. The invention helped pave the way for wireless technology. Lamarr published an autobiography, Ecstasy and Me, in 1966, but later sued her ghostwriter, Leo Guild, for what she claimed were gross and offensive inaccuracies.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Hedy Lamarr." (Viewed on January 19, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/lamarr-hedy>.