Hedy Lamarr’s Legacy

The Life of a Genius


Hedy Lamarr was, in short, stunning. She was known far and wide for her beauty, yet her beauty is not what should have established her mark – her brilliance should have. Hedy was intelligent beyond belief, but her genius often went unrecognized. Her legacy is vital to this day.

The Early Years

Born as Hedwig Kiesler in 1914, Hedy’s parents were a pianist and a banker in Vienna, Austria. Hedy pursues an acting job at a young age, and, needless to say, lands a role. Not long after, when she turned 19, she accepted her first major role in a movie called Ekstase (Directed by Gustav Machatý). But it certainly wasn’t a debut that anyone would expect. The movie was incredibly controversial, and brought her to a certain level of infamy, yet she became very, very famous. Hedy was a household name through much of Europe, and the craze was slowly trickling into America.

En Route to Fame

In the same year that Ekstase came out, Hedy married Fritz Mandl, who was a cunning weapons manufacturer. He was quite jealous of a husband, and went to great limits to burn every existing copy of Ekstase (which did not end up working.) During the six years of their marriage, Hedy acts in two more movies, and then escapes to America. This is where she dons the name Hedy Lamarr, inspired by the name of the actress Barbara Lamarr, who died many years earlier. Coincidentally enough, before she even sets foot in America, she manages to get signed by the CEO of Metro Goldwyn Mayer – and thus joined them during their “Golden Age.” This is when America becomes mesmerized by Hedy. She filmed multiple movies as an actress in America, and had a hugely successful career, amassing more and more fans on a daily basis. Then World War Two started.

World War Two

As one would guess, Hedy did not sit around prettily as the war progressed. Though many did not take her seriously at all, she actively contributed to the war effort. Through the ordering that she would kiss any person who bought 25,000 dollars in war bonds, Hedy was able to raise 7 million dollars in just one night. Taking into consideration the time period that this occurred in, this amount was actually a lot. 

Aside from this, Hedy made a contribution that could well have immensely benefited the United States during the war effort. It started simply, with a piano. Hedy was friends with a pianist and inventor named George Antheil. George had created a way to allow pianos to play themselves by synchronizing them to the same frequency. This gave Hedy a brilliant idea. She created a method called “Frequency Hopping”. In short, this method was meant for transferring signals wirelessly using multiple frequencies, thus preventing radio jamming. Another creation of Hedy’s was named the “spread spectrum.” This was the connection used for frequency hopping, in order to provide a secure connection. Since radio usage was predominant during the war, especially in submarines, Frequency Hopping would have aided immensely in avoiding enemies intercepting messages.

The Navy did not even glance at either of Hedy’s inventions, regardless of how helpful they would have been. Though it was a shame, Hedy’s inventions mothered much of what we know today: including WIFI, Bluetooth, and more.

The Years After

At one point, Hedy realized that no one would ever see her as more than a pretty face. She rarely appeared in the media after a while, and the media’s Hedy craze slowly died down. I would like to think that the last few years of her life were calm. Since her death, her accomplishments have been recognized through many platforms, and finally, she has gained what she deserved.