Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr (/ˈhdi/), born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler (November 9, 1914[lower-alpha 1]  January 19, 2000), was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor who in 2014 was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. [1]

Hedy Lamarr
Publicity photo (c.1944)
Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler

(1914-11-09)November 9, 1914
DiedJanuary 19, 2000(2000-01-19) (aged 85)
  • Austria (1914−1953)
  • United States (1953−2000)
OccupationActress, inventor

After a brief early film career in Czechoslovakia, including the controversial Ecstasy (1933), she fled from her husband, a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer, and secretly moved to Paris. Traveling to London, she met Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood.

She became a star with her performance in Algiers (1938), her first film made in the United States.[2] Her MGM films include Lady of the Tropics (1939), Boom Town (1940), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), and White Cargo (1942). Her greatest success was as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949).[3] She also acted on television before the release of her final film, The Female Animal (1958). She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.[4]

At the beginning of World War II, Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes, intended to use frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers.[5] Although the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s,[6] various spread-spectrum techniques are incorporated into Bluetooth technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of Wi-Fi.[7][8][9] Recognition of the value of this work resulted in the pair being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.[5][10]

Early life

Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, the only child of Gertrud "Trude" Kiesler (née Lichtwitz; 1894–1977) and Emil Kiesler (1880–1935). Her father was born to a Galician-Jewish family in Lemberg, Austrian empire (now known as Lviv in Ukraine) and was a successful bank director.[11] Her mother, Trude, a pianist and Budapest native, had come from an upper-class Hungarian-Jewish family. She converted to Catholicism as an adult and raised her daughter Hedy as a Catholic as well but she was not formally baptized at the time.[11]:8

As a child, Lamarr showed an interest in acting and was fascinated by theatre and film. At the age of 12, she won a beauty contest in Vienna.[12]

Lamarr helped get her mother out of Austria after the Anschluss and to the United States, where Gertrud Kiesler later became an American citizen. She put "Hebrew" as her race on her petition for naturalization, a term that had been frequently used in Europe.[13]

European film career

Early work

Still using her maiden name of Hedy Kiesler, she took acting classes in Vienna. One day, she forged a permission note from her mother and went to Sascha-Film, where she was hired at the age of 16 as a script girl. She gained a role as an extra in Money on the Street (1930), and then a small speaking part in Storm in a Water Glass (1931). Producer Max Reinhardt cast her in a play entitled The Weaker Sex, which was performed at the Theater in der Josefstadt. Reinhardt was so impressed with her that he arranged for her to return with him to Berlin, where he was based.[14]

Kiesler never trained with Reinhardt nor appeared in any of his Berlin productions. After meeting Russian theatre producer Alexis Granowsky, she was cast in his film directorial debut, The Trunks of Mr. O.F. (1931), starring Walter Abel and Peter Lorre.[15] Granowsky soon moved to Paris, but Kiesler stayed in Berlin to work. She was given the lead role in No Money Needed (1932), a comedy directed by Carl Boese.[16] Her next film brought her international fame.


In early 1933, at age 18, Hedy Kiesler, still working under her maiden name, was given the lead in Gustav Machatý's film Ecstasy (Ekstase in German, Extase in Czech). She played the neglected young wife of an indifferent older man.

The film became both celebrated and notorious for showing the actress's face in the throes of an orgasm. According to Marie Benedict's book The Only Woman In The Room, Kiesler's expression resulted from someone sticking her with a pin. She was also shown in closeups and brief nude scenes, the latter reportedly a result of the actress being "duped" by the director and producer, who used high-power telephoto lenses.[17][lower-alpha 2][18]

Although Kiesler was dismayed and now disillusioned about taking other roles, the film gained world recognition after winning an award in Rome. Throughout Europe, it was regarded as an artistic work. In the United States, it was considered overly sexual and received negative publicity, especially among women's groups.[17] It was banned there and in Germany, which was becoming increasingly conservative.[19]


Kiesler also played a number of stage roles, including a starring one in Sissy, a play about Empress Elisabeth of Austria produced in Vienna in early 1933, just as Ecstasy premiered. It won accolades from critics.[20][21]

Admirers sent roses to her dressing room and tried to get backstage to meet Kiesler. She sent most of them away, including an insistent Friedrich Mandl.[17] He became obsessed with getting to know her.[22] Mandl was a Viennese arms merchant and munitions manufacturer who was reputedly the third-richest man in Austria. She fell for his charming and fascinating personality, partly due to his immense wealth.[19] Her parents, both of Jewish descent, did not approve, as Mandl had ties to Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini, and later, German Führer Adolf Hitler, but they could not stop their headstrong daughter.[17]

On August 10, 1933, at the age of 18, Kiesler married Mandl, then 33. The son of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, Mandl insisted that she convert to Catholicism before their wedding in Vienna Karlskirche. In her autobiography Ecstasy and Me, she described Mandl as an extremely controlling husband. He strongly objected to her having been filmed in the simulated orgasm scene in Ecstasy and prevented her from pursuing her acting career. She claimed she was kept a virtual prisoner in their castle home,[19] Castle Schwarzenau in the remote Waldviertel near the Czech border.

Mandl had close social and business ties to the Italian government, selling munitions to the country,[11] and, despite his own part-Jewish descent, had ties to the Nazi regime of Germany. Kiesler accompanied Mandl to business meetings, where he conferred with scientists and other professionals involved in military technology. These conferences were her introduction to the field of applied science and she became interested in nurturing her latent talent in science.[23]

Finding her marriage to Mandl eventually unbearable, Kiesler decided to flee her husband as well as her country. In her autobiography, she wrote that she disguised herself as her maid and fled to Paris. Friedrich Otto's account says that she persuaded Mandl to let her wear all of her jewelry for a dinner party, then disappeared afterward.[24] She writes about her marriage:

I knew very soon that I could never be an actress while I was his wife. ... He was the absolute monarch in his marriage. ... I was like a doll. I was like a thing, some object of art which had to be guarded—and imprisoned—having no mind, no life of its own.[21]:28–29

Hollywood career and adoption of Lamarr surname

Louis B. Mayer and MGM

After arriving in London[25] in 1937, she met Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, who was scouting for talent in Europe.[26] She initially turned down the offer he made her (of $125 a week), but booked herself onto the same New York-bound liner as he. During the trip, she impressed him enough to secure a $500 a week contract. Mayer persuaded her to change her name from Hedwig Kiesler (to distance herself from "the Ecstasy lady" reputation associated with it)[24]; she chose the surname "Lamarr" in homage to the beautiful silent film star, Barbara La Marr, on the suggestion of his wife Margaret Shenberg.

When Mayer brought Lamarr to Hollywood in 1938, he began promoting her as the "world's most beautiful woman".[27] He introduced her to producer Walter Wanger, who was making Algiers (1938), an American version of the noted French film, Pépé le Moko (1937).

Lamarr was cast in the lead opposite Charles Boyer. The film created a "national sensation", says Shearer.[11]:77 Lamarr was billed as an unknown but well-publicized Austrian actress, which created anticipation in audiences. Mayer hoped she would become another Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich.[11]:77 According to one viewer, when her face first appeared on the screen, "everyone gasped ... Lamarr's beauty literally took one's breath away."[11]:2

In future Hollywood films, Lamarr was invariably typecast as the archetypal glamorous seductress of exotic origin. Her second American film was I Take This Woman (1940), co-starring with Spencer Tracy under the direction of regular Dietrich collaborator, Josef von Sternberg. Von Sternberg was fired during the shoot, and replaced by Frank Borzage. The film was put on hold, and Lamarr was put into Lady of the Tropics (1939), where she played a mixed-race seductress in Saigon opposite Robert Taylor. She returned to I Take This Woman, re-shot by W. S. Van Dyke. The resulting film was a flop.

Far more popular was Boom Town (1940) with Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert and Spencer Tracy; it made $5 million.[28] MGM promptly reteamed Lamarr and Gable in Comrade X (1940), a comedy film in the vein of Ninotchka (1939), which was another hit.

Lamarr was teamed with James Stewart in Come Live with Me (1941), playing a Viennese refugee. Stewart was also featured in Ziegfeld Girl (1941), in which Lamarr, Judy Garland, and Lana Turner played aspiring showgirls; it was a big success.[28]

Lamarr was top-billed in H. M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), although the film's protagonist was the title role played by Robert Young. She made a third film with Tracy, Tortilla Flat (1942). It was successful at the box office, as was Crossroads (1942) with William Powell.

Lamarr played the seductive native girl Tondelayo in White Cargo (1942), top-billed over Walter Pidgeon. It was a huge hit. White Cargo contains arguably her most memorable film quote, delivered with provocative invitation: "I am Tondelayo. I make tiffin for you?" This line typifies many of Lamarr's roles, which emphasized her beauty and sensuality while giving her relatively few lines. The lack of acting challenges bored Lamarr. She reportedly took up inventing to relieve her boredom.[29]

She was reunited with Powell in a comedy The Heavenly Body (1944), then was borrowed by Warner Bros for The Conspirators (1944). This was an attempt to repeat the success of Casablanca (1943), and RKO borrowed her for a melodrama Experiment Perilous (1944), directed by Jacques tourneur.

Back at MGM Lamarr was teamed with Robert Walker in the romantic comedy Her Highness and the Bellboy (1945), playing a princess who falls in love with a New Yorker. It was very popular, but would be the last film she made under her MGM contract.[30]


Her off-screen life and personality during those years was quite different from her screen image. She spent much of her time feeling lonely and homesick. She might swim at her agent's pool, but shunned the beaches and staring crowds. When asked for an autograph, she wondered why anyone would want it. Writer Howard Sharpe interviewed her and gave his impression:

Hedy has the most incredible personal sophistication. She knows the peculiarly European art of being womanly; she knows what men want in a beautiful woman, what attracts them, and she forces herself to be these things. She has magnetism with warmth, something that neither Dietrich nor Garbo has managed to achieve.[17]

Author Richard Rhodes describes her assimilation into American culture:

Of all the European émigrés who escaped Nazi Germany and Nazi Austria, she was one of the very few who succeeded in moving to another culture and becoming a full-fledged star herself. There were so very few who could make the transition linguistically or culturally. She really was a resourceful human being–I think because of her father's strong influence on her as a child.[31]

Wartime fundraiser

Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but was reportedly told by NIC member Charles F. Kettering and others that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell war bonds.[32][33]

She participated in a war bond-selling campaign with a sailor named Eddie Rhodes. Rhodes was in the crowd at each Lamarr appearance, and she would call him up on stage. She would briefly flirt with him before asking the audience if she should give him a kiss. The crowd would say yes, to which Hedy would reply that she would if enough people bought war bonds. After enough bonds were purchased, she would kiss Rhodes and he would head back into the audience. Then they would head off to the next war bond rally.[34]


After leaving MGM in 1945, Lamarr formed a production company with Jack Chertok and made the thriller The Strange Woman (1946). It went over budget and only made minor profits.[35]

She and Chertok then made Dishonored Lady (1947), another thriller starring Lamarr, which also went over budget – but was not a commercial success. She tried a comedy with Robert Cummings, Let's Live a Little (1948).

Later films

Lamarr enjoyed her greatest success playing Delilah opposite Victor Mature as the biblical strongman in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah, the highest-grossing film of 1950. The film also won two Academy Awards, for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. She won critical acclaim for her portrayal of Delilah. Showmen's Trade Review previewed the film before its release and commended Lamarr's performance: "Miss Lamarr is just about everyone's conception of the fair-skinned, dark-haired, beauteous Delilah, a role tailor-made for her, and her best acting chore to date."[36] Photoplay wrote, "As Delilah, Hedy Lamarr is treacherous and tantalizing, her charms enhanced by Technicolor."[37]

Lamarr returned to MGM for a film noir with John Hodiak, A Lady Without Passport (1950), which flopped. More popular were two pictures she made at Paramount, a Western with Ray Milland, Copper Canyon (1950), and a Bob Hope spy spoof, My Favorite Spy (1951).

Her career went into decline. She went to Italy to play multiple roles in Loves of Three Queens (1954), which she also produced. However she lacked the experience necessary to make a success of such an epic production, and lost millions of dollars when she was unable to secure distribution of the picture.

She was Joan of Arc in Irwin Allen's critically panned epic, The Story of Mankind (1957) and did episodes of Zane Grey Theatre ("Proud Woman") and Shower of Stars ("Cloak and Dagger"). Her last film was a thriller The Female Animal (1958).

Lamarr was signed to act in the 1966 film Picture Mommy Dead,[38] but was let go when she collapsed during filming from nervous exhaustion.[39] She was replaced in the role of Jessica Flagmore Shelley by Zsa Zsa Gabor.


Although Lamarr had no formal training and was primarily self-taught, she worked in her spare time on various hobbies and inventions, which included an improved traffic stoplight and a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated drink. The beverage was unsuccessful; Lamarr herself said it tasted like Alka-Seltzer.[40][29]

Among the few who knew of Lamarr's inventiveness was aviation tycoon Howard Hughes. She suggested he change the rather square design of his aeroplanes (which she thought looked too slow) to a more streamlined shape, based on pictures of the fastest birds and fish she could find. Lamarr discussed her relationship with Hughes during an interview, saying that while they dated, he actively supported her inventive "tinkering" hobbies. He put his team of scientists and engineers at her disposal, saying they would do or make anything she asked for.[41]

During World War II, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes, an emerging technology in naval war, could easily be jammed and set off course.[42] She thought of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed. She contacted her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil, to help her develop a device for doing that, and he succeeded by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals.[31] They drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system, which they patented.[43][44] Antheil recalled:

We began talking about the war, which, in the late summer of 1940, was looking most extremely black. Hedy said that she did not feel very comfortable, sitting there in Hollywood and making lots of money when things were in such a state. She said that she knew a good deal about munitions and various secret weapons ... and that she was thinking seriously of quitting MGM and going to Washington, DC, to offer her services to the newly established National Inventors Council.[22]

Their invention was granted a patent under US Patent 2,292,387 on August 11, 1942 (filed using her married name Hedy Kiesler Markey).[45] However, it was technologically difficult to implement, and at that time the U.S. Navy was not receptive to considering inventions coming from outside the military.[29] In 1962 (at the time of the Cuban missile crisis), an updated version of their design was installed on Navy ships.[46] Their contributions were formally recognized in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Marriages and children

Lamarr was married and divorced six times and had three children:

  1. Friedrich Mandl (married 1933–37), chairman of the Hirtenberger Patronen-Fabrik[47]
  2. Gene Markey (married 1939–41), screenwriter and producer. She adopted a boy, James Lamarr Markey (born January 9, 1939) during her marriage with Markey. (He was later adopted by Loder and was thereafter known as James Lamarr Loder.) Lamarr and Markey lived at 2727 Benedict Canyon Drive in Beverly Hills, California during their marriage.[48]
  3. John Loder (married 1943–47), actor. Children: Denise Loder (born January 19, 1945), married Larry Colton, a writer and former baseball player; and Anthony Loder (born February 1, 1947), married Roxanne who worked for illustrator James McMullan.[49] They both appeared in the 2004 documentary film Calling Hedy Lamarr.[50]
  4. Ernest "Ted" Stauffer (married 1951–52), nightclub owner, restaurateur, and former bandleader
  5. W. Howard Lee (married 1953–60), a Texas oilman (he later married film actress Gene Tierney)
  6. Lewis J. Boies (married 1963–65), Lamarr's divorce lawyer

Following her sixth and final divorce in 1965, Lamarr remained unmarried for the last 35 years of her life.

Lamarr claimed in her life that James Lamarr Markey/Loder was biologically unrelated and she had adopted him during her marriage to Gene Markey.[51] But in 2001 it was reported that James had found documentation that he was the out-of-wedlock son of Lamarr and actor John Loder, whom she later married as her third husband.[52] Lamarr had two more children with Loder after their marriage: Denise (born 1945) and Anthony (born 1947).[53]

Later years

Lamarr became a naturalized citizen of the United States at age 38 on April 10, 1953. Her autobiography, Ecstasy and Me, was published in 1966. In a 1969 interview on The Merv Griffin Show, she said that she did not write it and claimed that much was fictional.[54] Lamarr sued the publisher in 1966 to halt publication, saying that many details were fabricated by its ghost writer, Leo Guild. She lost the suit.[55][56] In 1967 Lamarr was sued by Gene Ringgold, who asserted that the book plagiarized material from an article he had written in 1965 for Screen Facts magazine.[57]

In the late 1950s Lamarr designed and, with husband W. Howard Lee, developed the Villa LaMarr ski resort in Aspen, Colorado.[58][59] After their divorce, her husband gained this resort.[60]

In 1966, Lamarr was arrested in Los Angeles for shoplifting. The charges were eventually dropped. In 1991, she was arrested on the same charge in Florida, this time for stealing $21.48 worth of laxatives and eye drops.[61] She pleaded no contest to avoid a court appearance, and the charges were dropped in return for her promise to refrain from breaking any laws for a year.[62] The shoplifting charges coincided with her failed attempt to return to the screen.

During the 1970s, Lamarr lived in increasing seclusion. She was offered several scripts, television commercials, and stage projects, but none piqued her interest. In 1974, she filed a $10 million lawsuit against Warner Bros., claiming that the running parody of her name ("Hedley Lamarr") featured in the Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles infringed her right to privacy. Brooks said he was flattered; the studio settled out of court for an undisclosed nominal sum and an apology to Lamarr for "almost using her name". Brooks said that Lamarr "never got the joke".[63][64] With her eyesight failing, Lamarr retreated from public life and settled in Miami Beach, Florida, in 1981.[11]

In 1996 a large Corel-drawn image of Lamarr won the annual cover design contest for the CorelDRAW's yearly software suite. For several years, beginning in 1997, it was featured on boxes of the software suite. Lamarr sued the company for using her image without her permission. Corel countered that she did not own rights to the image. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement in 1998.[65][66]

Lamarr became estranged from her adopted son, James Lamarr Loder, when he was 12 years old. Their relationship ended abruptly, and he moved in with another family. They did not speak again for almost 50 years. Lamarr left James Loder out of her will, and he sued for control of the US$3.3 million estate left by Lamarr in 2000.[67] He eventually settled for US$50,000.[68]


In the last decades of her life, Lamarr communicated only by telephone with the outside world, even with her children and close friends. She often talked up to six or seven hours a day on the phone, but she spent hardly any time with anyone in person in her final years. A documentary, Calling Hedy Lamarr, was released in 2004 and featured her children, Anthony Loder and Denise Loder-DeLuca.


Lamarr died in Casselberry, Florida,[69] on January 19, 2000, of heart disease, aged 85.[11] According to her wishes, she was cremated and her son Anthony Loder spread her ashes in Austria's Vienna Woods.[50]

Legacy and honors

  • For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Lamarr was recognized in 2013 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Blvd[70][71] adjacent to Vine Street where the walk is centered.
  • Lamarr was given an honorary grave in Vienna's Central Cemetery, where the remaining portion of her ashes were buried in November 2014, shortly before her 100th birthday.[72]


In 1939, Lamarr was selected the "most promising new actress" of 1938 in a poll of area voters conducted by a Philadelphia Record film critic.[73]

In 1951, British moviegoers voted Lamarr the tenth best actress of 1950,[74] for her performance in Samson and Delilah.

In 1997, Lamarr and George Antheil were jointly honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award[75] and Lamarr also was the first woman to receive the Invention Convention's BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, known as the "Oscars of inventing".[76][77]

In 2014, Lamarr was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology.[78]


Source: 107525|68054 Hedy Lamarr at the TCM Movie Database

Year Title Role Leading actor Notes
1930 Money on the Street Young Girl Georg Alexander Original title: Geld auf der Straße
1931 Storm in a Water Glass Secretary Paul Otto Original title: Sturm im Wasserglas
1931 The Trunks of Mr. O.F. Helene Alfred Abel Original title: Die Koffer des Herrn O.F.
1932 No Money Needed Käthe Brandt Heinz Rühmann Original title: Man braucht kein Geld
1933 Ecstasy Eva Hermann Aribert Mog Original title: Ekstase
1938 Algiers Gaby Charles Boyer
1939 Lady of the Tropics Manon deVargnes Carey Robert Taylor
1940 I Take This Woman Georgi Gragore Decker Spencer Tracy
1940 Boom Town Karen Vanmeer Clark Gable
1940 Comrade X Golubka/ Theodore Yahupitz/ Lizvanetchka "Lizzie" Clark Gable
1941 Come Live With Me Johnny Jones James Stewart
1941 Ziegfeld Girl Sandra Kolter James Stewart
1941 H.M. Pulham, Esq. Marvin Myles Ransome Robert Young
1942 Tortilla Flat Dolores Ramirez Spencer Tracy
1942 Crossroads Lucienne Talbot William Powell
1942 White Cargo Tondelayo Walter Pidgeon
1944 The Heavenly Body Vicky Whitley William Powell
1944 The Conspirators Irene Von Mohr Paul Henreid
1944 Experiment Perilous Allida Bederaux George Brent
1945 Her Highness and the Bellboy Princess Veronica Robert Walker
1946 The Strange Woman Jenny Hager George Sanders and Producer
1947 Dishonored Lady Madeleine Damien Dennis O'Keefe and Producer
1948 Let's Live a Little Dr. J.O. Loring Robert Cummings and Producer
1949 Samson and Delilah Delilah Victor Mature Her first film in Technicolor
1950 A Lady Without Passport Marianne Lorress John Hodiak
1950 Copper Canyon Lisa Roselle Ray Milland
1951 My Favorite Spy Lily Dalbray Bob Hope
1954 Loves of Three Queens Helen of Troy,
Joséphine de Beauharnais,
Genevieve of Brabant
Massimo Serato,
Cesare Danova
Original title: L'amante di Paride
1957 The Story of Mankind Joan of Arc Ronald Colman
1958 The Female Animal Vanessa Windsor George Nader


1957Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre"Proud Woman"[79]

Radio appearances

Hedy Lamarr starred in the following radio dramas:

1941Lux Radio Theatre"Algiers"[80]
1941Lux Radio Theatre"The Bride Came C.O.D."[81]
1942The Screen Guild Theater"Too Many Husbands"[11]
1942Lux Radio Theatre"H. M. Pulham, Esq."[82]
1942Lux Radio Theatre"Love Crazy"[83]
1943The Screen Guild Theater"Come Live with Me"[84]
1944Lux Radio Theatre"Casablanca"[85]
1944Silver Theater"She Looked Like an Angel"[11]
1945Radio Hall of Fame"Experiment Perilous"[86]
1951Lux Radio Theatre"Samson and Delilah"[87]

The Mel Brooks 1974 western parody Blazing Saddles features a male villain named "Hedley Lamarr". As a running gag, various characters mistakenly refer to him as "Hedy Lamarr" prompting him to testily reply "That's Hedley."

In the 1982 off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors and subsequent film adaptation (1986), Audrey II says to Seymour in the song "Feed Me" that he can get Seymour anything he wants, including "A date with Hedy Lamarr."[88]

In 2008, an off-Broadway play, Frequency Hopping, features the lives of Lamarr and Antheil. The play was written and staged by Elyse Singer, and the script won a prize for best new play about science and technology from STAGE.[11][89]

In 2010, Lamarr was selected out of 150 IT people to be featured in a short film launched by the British Computer Society on May 20.[90]

Also during 2010, the New York Public Library exhibit Thirty Years of Photography at the New York Public Library included a photo of a topless Lamarr (c.1930) by Austrian-born American photographer Trude Fleischmann.[91]

In 2011, the story of Lamarr's frequency-hopping spread spectrum invention was explored in an episode of the Science Channel show Dark Matters: Twisted But True, a series that explores the darker side of scientific discovery and experimentation, which premiered on September 7.[92] Her work in improving wireless security was part of the premiere episode of the Discovery Channel show How We Invented the World.[93]

Also during 2011, Anne Hathaway revealed that she had learned that the original Catwoman was based on Lamarr, so she studied all of Lamarr's films and incorporated some of her breathing techniques into her portrayal of Catwoman in the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises.[94]

In 2015, on November 9, the 101st anniversary of Lamarr's birth, Google paid tribute to Lamarr's work in film and her contributions to scientific advancement with an animated Google Doodle.[95]

In 2016, Lamarr was depicted in an off-Broadway play, HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, a one-woman show written and performed by Heather Massie.[96][97]

In 2016, the off-Broadway, one-actor show Stand Still and Look Stupid: The Life Story of Hedy Lamarr starring Emily Ebertz and written by Mike Broemmel went into production.[98][99]

Also during 2016, Whitney Frost, a character in the TV show Agent Carter, was inspired by Lamarr and Lauren Bacall.[100]

In 2017, actress Celia Massingham portrayed Lamarr on The CW television series Legends of Tomorrow in the sixth episode of the third season, titled "Helen Hunt". The episode is set in 1937 "Hollywoodland" and references Lamarr's reputation as an inventor. The episode aired on November 14, 2017.[101]

Also during 2017, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, written and directed by Alexandra Dean and produced by Susan Sarandon, a documentary[102] about Lamarr's career as an actress and later as an inventor, premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.[31] It was released in theaters on November 24, 2017, and aired on PBS American Masters in May 2018.

In 2018, actress Alyssa Sutherland portrayed Lamarr on the NBC television series Timeless in the third episode of the second season, titled "Hollywoodland". The episode aired March 25, 2018.[103]

Gal Gadot will portray Lamarr in a limited Showtime series on her.[104]

Asteroid 32730 Lamarr, discovered by Karl Reinmuth at Heidelberg Observatory in 1951, was named in her memory.[105] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on August 27, 2019 (M.P.C. 115894).[106]

Batman co-creator Bob Kane was a great movie fan and his love for film provided the impetus for several Batman characters, among them, Catwoman. Among Kane's inspiration for Catwoman were Lamarr and actress Jean Harlow.[107]

See also


  1. According to Lamarr biographer Stephen Michael Shearer (pp. 8, 339), she was born in 1914, not 1913.
  2. When Lamarr applied for the role, she had little experience nor understood the planned filming. Anxious for the job, she signed the contract without reading it. When, during an outdoor scene, the director told her to disrobe, she protested and threatened to quit, but he said that if she refused, she would have to pay for the cost of all the scenes already filmed. To calm her, he said they were using "long shots" in any case, and no intimate details would be visible. At the preview in Prague, sitting next to the director, when she saw the numerous close-ups produced with telephoto lenses, she screamed at him for tricking her. She left the theater in tears, worried about her parents' reaction and that it might have ruined her budding career.[17]


  1. "Hedy Lamarr: Inventor of more than the 1st theatrical-film orgasm". Los Angeles Times. November 28, 2010. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  2. Severo, Richard (January 20, 2000). "Hedy Lamarr, Sultry Star Who Reigned in Hollywood Of 30's and 40's, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  3. Haskell, Molly (December 10, 2010). "European Exotic". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 8, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  4. "Hedy Lamarr". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  5. "Movie Legend Hedy Lamarr to be Given Special Award at EFF's Sixth Annual Pioneer Awards" (Press release). Electronic Frontier Foundation. March 11, 1997. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
  6. "short history of spread spectrum". Electronic Engineering (EE) Times. January 26, 2012. Archived from the original on August 26, 2018.
  7. "Hollywood star whose invention paved the way for Wi-Fi", New Scientist, December 8, 2011; retrieved February 4, 2014.
  8. Craddock, Ashley (March 11, 1997). "Privacy Implications of Hedy Lamarr's Idea". Wired. Condé Nast Digital. Archived from the original on August 5, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
  9. "Hedy Lamarr Inventor" (PDF). The New York Times. October 1, 1941. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 10, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
  10. "Spotlight – National Inventors Hall of Fame". invent.org. Archived from the original on May 1, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  11. Shearer, Stephen Michael (2010). Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 978-0-312-55098-1.
  12. Barton 2010, pp. 12–13.
  13. "USA Science Festival". Role Models in Science & Engineering Achievement. Archived from the original on February 4, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  14. Barton 2010, pp. 16–19.
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  • Barton, Ruth (2010). Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. ISBN 978-0-8131-3654-7.

Further reading

  • Lamarr, Hedy (1966). Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman. New York: Bartholomew House. ASIN B0007DMMN8.
  • Rhodes, Richard (2012). Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-307-74295-7.
  • Shearer, Stephen Michael (2010). Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-55098-1.
  • Young, Christopher (1979). The Films of Hedy Lamarr. New York: Citadel Press. ISBN 978-0-8065-0579-4.
  • Benedict, Marie (2019). The Only Woman in the Room. Thorndike Press. ISBN 978-1-4328-5790-5.
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