Hedy Lamarr

9/11/19

Born this day in 1914 in Austria, Hollywood movie star Hedy Lamarr was an inventor as well as a film actor, who these days is perhaps best remembered for her contributions to the field of wireless technology, rather than as one of the most glamorous stars of the golden age of Hollywood. Renewed interest in her non-acting work, especially in a world with an under-representation of women in science, led to her work on projects during WW2 in developing spread-spectrum and frequency-hopping technology, becoming more widely known in the 2010s. This culminated in her induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the US in 2014.

Her work on radio-spectrum technologies with her partner - composer George Antheil, also inducted in 2014 - was used in the later 20th C in technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, thus cementing her influence on modern life for years to come. Lamarr was self-taught and worked in her spare time on numerous inventions and hobbies, such as a tablet that dissolved to create a carbonated drink and an improved traffic light system. She disliked the fame that came with being a movie star and used her time to tinker and study practical problems. Aviation tycoon and movie producer Howard Hughes put a team of engineers at her disposal.

She starred in many films during her Hollywood career - most famously as Delilah, opposite Victor Mature's Samson in the 1947 biblical epic, and was highly regarded, winning awards and gaining a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her later years sadly featured an arrest for shoplifting and a difficult, secluded private life. She died at the age of 85 in Florida in January 2000, an increasingly isolated figure, unaware of the new found recognition she would later receive. Happy Birthday Hedy Lamarr

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