Hedy Lamarr

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.


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This was very useful, thank you

You missed another Jewish angle -- fighting the Nazis.

From a book I wrote about telecommunications:

>>Frequency Hopping technology was co-invented by actress Hedy Lamarr during World War II, to help direct American torpedoes at Nazi war ships, without them getting jammed and sent off-course. The technology was intended to send navigational instructions to the torpedoes over 88 radio frequencies, using a piano roll to make the changes. The idea was novel Ì¢‰â‰۝ but ahead of its time and unfeasible Ì¢‰â‰۝ due to the state of 1942 technology.

It was kept on the shelf until 1962, when it was used by the U. S. Navy during the blockade of Cuba to provide secure ship-to-ship communications. The technique was also used to provide secure communications for reconnaissance drones in Vietnam. With advances in digital technology and the military's release of frequency hopping for public use in the 1980s, the invention gained much wider use. Now known as Ì¢‰âÒspread spectrum,Ì¢‰âÂå itÌ¢‰â‰ã¢s used to make cordless and cellular conversations more secure from eavesdropping.

Hedy Lamarr may not have helped to defeat the Nazis, but she did get a patent, made a major contribution to communications, won an award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and her face was on a Corel software packages. Her heirs sued Corel for using her picture without permission.<<


In reply to by mnmarcus

To learn more about this aspect of Ms. Lamarr's work, please see our Power Couples page on Ms. Lamarr and Mayim Bialik at http://jwa.org/powercouples/la....

In reply to by Stephen_Benson

Thanks. I saw that page before. It links to _this_ page.

I love smart, gorgeous Jewish women.

Hedy Lamarr.

Date of Birth


Date of Death
Actress, Engineer, Writer

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Hedy Lamarr." (Viewed on June 19, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/lamarr-hedy>.


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