Hedy Lamarr

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Hedy Lamarr (1944)

Hedy Lamarr , actually Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler (born November 9, 1914 in Vienna , Austria-Hungary , † January 19, 2000 in Altamonte Springs , Florida ), was an Austrian - American film actress and inventor .

After starting her film career in Austria, she became a Hollywood star in the late 1930s. She was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014 for her inventions, which she began to develop in the service of the US Navy and the Allies during World War II .


Early years

Lamarr came from a Jewish family. Her father Emil Kiesler, who was born in Lviv , was the bank director of the Creditanstalt Bankverein , her mother Gertrud Lichtwitz came from Budapest and was a trained concert pianist . Hedy attended a private school, received piano , ballet and language lessons . Lamarr already had a leading role in her fourth film You don't need money with Heinz Rühmann and Hans Moser . The Czechoslovak- Austrian film Symphony of Love (better known as Ecstasy ) from 1933 was a scandal because of its nude scenes. But not only the ten-minute nude scene - a bath in a lake and the subsequent walk naked through a forest - caused a sensation, but above all a love scene in which only her sexually excited face could be seen - she played an orgasm . That is why the film was banned in National Socialist Germany . It was not until 1935, after cuts by the Nazis , that the film was shown amid tumult in a few German cinemas, with the warning: "This film is spoiling young people."

Lamarr married the wealthy Viennese industrialist Fritz Mandl on August 10, 1933 , a domineering and jealous man who forbade her to appear in films. He was the son of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother and, on the occasion of the wedding in the Karlskirche in Vienna, demanded that she convert to the Catholic faith. Celebrities like Ödön von Horváth or the couple Franz and Alma Werfel frequented their common residence, Gut Fegenberg in Schwarzau in the mountains in Lower Austria . Mandl was a weapons manufacturer who, among other things, did business with Nazi Germany. She left him in 1937 and went to Paris and later to London .


Text of the patent
Patent for a "secret communication system"

Hedy Lamarr, who sided with the Allies as an opponent of National Socialism in World War II , developed a radio remote control for torpedoes patented in 1942 . This was difficult to locate due to the automatically changing frequencies and was largely fail-safe. The invention came about when she and the composer George Antheil had to synchronize 16 pianolas with each other and with a film for his Ballet Mécanique , which was achieved through simultaneously running piano rolls (punched tape). They solved the problem with radio remote control by using identical punched strips in the transmitter and receiver. This made it possible to change frequencies at the same time. Lamarr, as the wife of the weapons manufacturer Fritz Mandl, is said to have had access to highly secret information, including in the field of radio technology.

Lamarr and Antheil worked on their idea for a few months before presenting it to the National Inventors Council in December 1940 . The council was chaired by Charles Kettering , General Motors Director of Research . Kettering suggested that Lamarr and Antheil patent the idea. With the help of a professor of electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology , they prepared the patent for application. It was granted by the patent office on August 11, 1942.

However, because of its complexity, the Lamarr and Antheil invention was never used in its original form. In 1962 some Navy ships used an advanced version of the technology. The simultaneous change of frequency, called frequency hopping ( English frequency-hopping ) is in communication technology, for example, in Bluetooth is used.

In 1997, Lamarr received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award for their invention . In 2014, Lamarr was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame .


In London she was signed to MGM by Louis B. Mayer . At the same time he gave her the stage name Hedy Lamarr , referring directly to the famous silent film star Barbara La Marr , who was known at the time as The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful . MGM marketed her as "the most beautiful woman in the world".

Nevertheless, she created a sensation by participating in the Algiers strip in 1938 on the side of Charles Boyer . Many actresses copied their center parting hairstyle, and the brunette hair color became the fashion color of the late 1930s. Joan Bennett took the mimicry so far that she dyed her previously blonde hair à la Lamarr for the film Trade Winds and did not change it for the rest of her career. At the same time, Lamarr was a model for a renaissance of the hat as an accessory for actresses. As headgear she wore turbans, scarves, veils and even multi-storey creations reminiscent of pagodas . Louis B. Mayer wanted to make Hedy Lamarr the biggest star of the studio and initially entrusted Josef von Sternberg , who was to direct her MGM debut, the film I Take This Woman . Numerous mishaps accompanied this production from the beginning, which lasted over 18 months, in which three directors took turns and during which almost the entire cast was changed. In the end, some jokingly referred to the film as I Retake This Woman , and the result was a flop. Lamarr himself also worked alongside Robert Taylor in the film Lady of the Tropics , which ended up being distributed even earlier.

In the studio, Lamarr was considered sluggish, not very ambitious and relatively difficult. Occasionally she played good roles, but mostly she was seen as a "decorative accessory" in rather one-dimensional female lead roles. This is especially true of her greatest commercial success, the film Samson and Delilah , which was directed by Cecil B. DeMille . In 1947, Lamarr identified her most important role as a modern and independent woman in the business world in HM Pulham, Esq. by King Vidor , for this performance she was also praised by many critics. Lamarr often claimed in later years that she turned down many good roles, such as in Casablanca and Lady Alquist's House . In 1958 she made her last film.

Private life

The actress was married six times and had numerous affairs, including with women. Her husbands were Fritz Mandl , Gene Markey, John Loder , Teddy Stauffer , W. Howard Lee and Lewis J. Boles. She had three children.

In 1965, a shoplifting complaint was brought against her in Los Angeles for being briefly imprisoned until her indictment of triviality was dropped. In 1991 she was arrested in Florida for the same offense. With her voluntary waiver of defense and the consent to a year probation period, an indictment was waived. Her autobiography Ecstasy and Me was published in 1967. Shortly after the publication, Lamarr sued the co-author for a large sum of damages for twisting the facts.

Lamarr spent the last decades of her life secluded in Florida.

Her son Anthony Loder (* 1947 in Los Angeles) studied theater arts at UCLA and founded a company in 1982 with which he installed communication and video surveillance systems in the mansions of numerous Hollywood stars. Anthony has seven children and five grandchildren. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles and in 2012, together with the German journalist Jochen Förster, wrote a book about his mother, which was published in a revised new edition in 2014, on her 100th birthday.


Grave of Hedy Lamarr in the Vienna Central Cemetery, Group 33 G, Grave No. 80
  • Hedy Lamarr was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 .
  • In 1997 the Electronic Frontier Foundation presented Hedy Lamarr with the EFF Pioneer Award in recognition of her and Antheil's invention. It is thanks to Dave Hughes, an ardent admirer of Lamarr, and his tireless lobbying work, that all manufacturers of wireless technology finally appreciated Lamarr's development.
  • In 2006 the Hedy-Lamarr-Weg in Vienna- Meidling (12th district) was named after the actress.
  • The day of the inventors is celebrated in her honor in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on her birthday on November 9th .
  • It should have been Lamarr's last will that her ashes be scattered in the Vienna Woods . In part, their children Anthony Loder and Deedee Loder complied with this wish by scattering half of the ashes in the Am Himmel green area a few years after Lamarr's death , which is located on Pfaffenberg , on the outskirts of Vienna, in the northern Vienna Woods. The scene became part of the film Calling Hedy Lamarr .
  • Anthony Loder's request that the remaining ashes of his mother should be buried in an honorary grave of the City of Vienna was realized in 2014: On November 7, 2014, her urn was found in the Vienna Central Cemetery in Group 33 G, Grave No. 80, not far from the centrally located presidential crypt buried.
  • Google honored her on November 9, 2015, her 101st birthday, with a doodle .
  • On August 27, 2019, an asteroid was named after her: (32730) Lamarr .


  • In 1904 the Viennese rowing club Austria was founded in Vienna . Thanks to the club's director Kiesler, the father of Hedy Lamarr-Kiesler, it became the largest and best-equipped clubhouse in Vienna at the time. She herself was a member of the rowing club and trained in the Kuchelauer Hafen (Danube port on the northern city limits). In 1956, Hedy Lamarr visited this club again, where she spent her youth, and the then young club members later said: "We couldn't understand then why the old men were so excited!"
  • Lamarr filed a $ 10 million lawsuit in 1974 in court against invasion of privacy and unauthorized use of her name, such as "Hedley Lamarr" in Mel Brooks ' film Blazing Saddles . In the US western , the actor Harvey Korman plays the role of Lieutenant Governor Hedley Lamarr , a deliberate reference to Hedy Lamarr. He is misinterpreted over and over again in the film, so he replies, “My name is Hedley, not Hedy!” Mel Brooks said, “The producers came and said Hedy Lamarr would sue the production if we used her name in the film. (He :) Please pay them! ”Hence the line in the film where the governor says:“ It's 1874 and you [Lieutenant Governor Hedley Lamarr] can sue them! ”- The case was settled out of court.
  • The company Corel organized in 1996 a 3-million-US-dollar design competition. John Corkery, who created a vector illustration of Hedy Lamarr using Corel's software CorelDRAW , won the competition. Two years later, the factory adorned CorelDRAW 8's cardboard and CD packaging . Corel was then sued for over $ 5 million with the aim of banning Corel from using the work. At the time, Hedy Lamarr was very withdrawn and feared for her privacy. A settlement was finally reached out of court, and Corel was granted a license to use the vectorized portrait.
  • In the video game Half-Life , a character's pet is named after Hedy Lamarr.
  • HL is in women's educational canon of mountain , Meier u. a. 2018 mentioned as an example.

Hedy Lamarr Prize

In order to honor her achievements as an inventor, the City of Vienna awarded the Hedy Lamarr Prize worth 10,000 euros, which is to be awarded annually to Austrian women scientists for innovative achievements in IT. It was awarded for the first time in 2018.

Prize winners:



“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid. "

“Every girl can be glamorous. You just have to stand still and look stupid. "

- Hedy Lamarr


  • Hedy Lamarr: Ecstasy and Me. My Life as a Woman . Bartholomew House, New York 1966.
    • German: ecstasy and me. Scandalous revelations from 6 Hollywood marriages . Stephenson, Flensburg 1967 (translated by Hedi and Hannes Baiko); NA: Ecstasy and me. My life as a woman . Schirmer Mosel, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-8296-0619-6 .


  • Jochen Förster (editor), Anthony Loder: Hedy Darling . Hollywood icon, technology pioneer, fallen star. The film-ready life of Hedy Lamarr tells about her son [Anthony]. Ankerherz, Hollenstedt 2012, ISBN 978-3-940138-25-5 ; revised edition: Mrs. Bluetooth. The story of a forgotten genius - told by her son . Ankerherz, Hollenstedt 2014, ISBN 978-3-940138-46-0 .
  • Richard Brem, Theo Ligthart (eds.): Hommage à Hedy Lamarr . In: Swamp Book . Volume 7. Edition Selene, Vienna, 1999, ISBN 3-85266-107-2 (texts in German and partly in English).
  • Peter Körte: Hedy Lamarr. The silent siren . Edition Belleville, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-933510-17-1 .
  • Michaela Lindinger: Hedy Lamarr: film goddess, anti-fascist, inventor: the biography . Molden, Vienna / Graz 2019, ISBN 978-3-222-15039-5 .
  • Peter Kranzpiller: Hedy Lamarr . In: Stars of the cinema scene . Volume 13, Eppe, Bergatreute 1997, ISBN 3-89089-683-9 .
  • Richard Rhodes: Hedy's Folly. The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World . Doubleday, New York City 2011, ISBN 978-0-385-53438-3 .
  • Christopher Young: The Films of Hedy Lamarr . Citadel Press, Secaucus 1980, ISBN 0-8065-0698-9 (first edition 1978).

Films and plays about Hedy Lamarr


  • 2005: Wilhelm Pellert : Hedy Kiesler Lamarr . Play. World premiere: Vienna, Freie Bühne Wieden, director: Gerald Szyszkowitz .
  • 2017: Peter Turrini : Seven seconds of eternity . Play. World premiere: Vienna, Theater in der Josefstadt 2017. Director: Stephanie Mohr .
  • 2019: Beatrice Gleicher : Arrival Today: Hedy Lamarr . Play. World premiere: Vienna, Palais Schönburg, director: Erhard Pauer.
  • 2020: Kai Anne Schuhmacher: The Faces of Hedy Lamarr . Play for drama, puppet and mask theater. World premiere: Vienna, Schubert Theater, director: Kai Anne Schuhmacher


Web links

Commons : Hedy Lamarr  - Collection of Images

References and comments

  1. CultureLab: Hollywood star Whose Invention paved the way for Wi-Fi. Retrieved January 14, 2018 .
  2. Hedy Lamarr. (No longer available online.) In: National Inventors Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on November 29, 2016 ; accessed on January 14, 2018 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.invent.org
  3. Stephen Michael Shearer: Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr . Thomas Dunne Books, 2010, ISBN 978-0-312-55098-1 .
  4. ^ Armin Loacker: Ecstasy . 1st edition. Filmarchiv Austria , 2001, ISBN 978-3-901932-10-6 , pp. 392 ( Google Books. ).
  5. Gina Pietsch : Life between canvas and laboratory. The actress and inventor Hedy Kiesler Lamarr would have turned 100 on November 9th . (PDF; 1.4 MB) In: Our sheet , p. 12.
  6. ^ Secret Communication System . U.S. Patent No. 2,292,387.
  7. Eliza Schmidkunz: Player Pianos, Sex Appeal, and Patent # 2,292,387 . ( Memento of the original from August 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: InsideGNSS.com , September 2006. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.insidegnss.com
  8. ^ Hans-Joachim Braun: Advanced Weaponry of the Stars . ( Memento of October 21, 2007 in the Internet Archive ). At: AmericanHeritage.com , Spring 1997.
  9. Aug. 11, 1942: Actress + Piano Player = New Torpedo . In: WIRED . ( wired.com [accessed July 14, 2018]).
  10. Past winners . eff.org, accessed November 11, 2019
  11. Inductee detail . In: National Inventors Hall of Fame . ( invent.org [accessed July 14, 2018]). Inductee Detail ( Memento of the original dated November 29, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. National Inventors Hall of Fame  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.invent.org
  12. HM Pulham, ESQ. Retrieved April 21, 2020 .
  13. Stephen Michael Shearer: Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr . Macmillan, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4299-0820-7 ( google.de [accessed April 21, 2020]).
  14. ^ Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1913 - January 19, 2000) . At: reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org . January 19, 2014, accessed March 8, 2018.
  15. Hedy Lamarr . At: WalkofFame.com
  16. Movie Legend Hedy Lamarr to be Given Special Award at EFF's Sixth Annual Pioneer Awards . ( Memento of December 7, 2003 in the Internet Archive ).
  17. See also an interview with the director of the film, Georg Misch : Misch: "She was multilayered" . ( Memento from February 20, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).
  18. ^ Hedy Lamarr receives honorary grave of the City of Vienna . wien.gv.at, archive report of the town hall correspondence, November 7, 2014.
  19. ↑ Grave number according to information on friedhoefewien.at Lamarr is listed in the database under her real name Kiesler.
  20. Tomb of Hedy Lamarr. knerger.de
  21. Martin Maciej: Hedy Lamarr: A cinema orgasm, a groundbreaking invention, 101st birthday . November 9, 2015, accessed March 8, 2018.
  22. Hedy Lamarr's 101st Birthday Google Doodle . YouTube .com; accessed on March 8, 2018.
  23. ^ History of the Vienna rowing club Austria. In: ruderverein-austria.at. Wiener Ruderverein Austria, accessed on June 19, 2016 .
  24. ^ Designer Today Product Preview Archive. CorelDraw a Preface to Version 9! ( Memento from October 19, 2013 in the Internet Archive ).
  25. ^ Corel licenses Hedy Lamarr image .
  26. Lamarr . Half-Life.Wikia.com
  27. Sibylle Berg : General knowledge: You must know these women. In: Spiegel Online . August 23, 2018, accessed October 15, 2019 .
  28. First Hedy Lamarr Prize awarded on ORF on October 4, 2018, accessed on October 4, 2018
  29. Martina Lindorfer receives the Hedy Lamarr Prize from the City of Vienna. November 5, 2019, accessed November 5, 2019 .
  30. Peter Körte: Hedy Lamarr. The silent siren . Edition Belleville, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-933510-17-1 , p. 26.
  31. Peter Turrini. Seven seconds of eternity . Production 2017 at the Theater in der Josefstadt, Vienna.
  32. Arrival • Today • Hedy Lamarr. In: KunstSpielerei. Retrieved November 10, 2019 .
  33. Hedy Lamarr. In: Inspiris Film. Accessed December 20, 2019 (German).