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Extraordinarily beautiful, Hedy Lamarr was a Austrian-American actress during MGM's "Golden Age."
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Hedy Lamarr was an actress during MGM's "Golden Age." She starred in such films as Tortilla Flat, Lady of the Tropics, Boom Town, and Samson and Delilah, with the likes of Clark Gable and Spencer Tracey. Lamarr was also a scientist, co-inventing an early technique for spread spectrum communications — key to many wireless communications of our present day.
Actress. Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, on November 9, 1913, in Vienna, Austria. Discovered by an Austrian film director as a teenager, she gained international notice in 1933, with her role in the sexy Czech film Ecstasy. After her marriage with Fritz Mandl, a wealthy Austrian munitions manufacturer, ended, she signed a contract with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio and began her career in Hollywood as Hedy Lamarr. Upon the release of her first American film, Algiers, co-starring Charles Boyer, Lamarr became an immediate box-office sensation.
Often referred to as one of the most gorgeous and exotic of Hollywood's leading ladies, Lamarr made a number of well-received films during the 1930s and 1940s. Notable among them were Lady of the Tropics (1939), co-starring Robert Taylor; Boom Town (1940), with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy; Tortilla Flat (1942), co-starring Tracy; and Samson and Delilah (1949), opposite Victor Mature. She was reportedly producer Hal Wallis' first choice for the heroine in his classic 1943 film, Casablanca, a part that eventually went to Ingrid Bergman.
In 1942, during the heyday of her career, Lamarr earned recognition in a field quite different from entertainment. She and her friend, the composer George Antheil, received a patent for an idea of a radio signaling device, or "Secret Communications System," that later became an important step in the development of technology to maintain the security of both military communications and cellular phones.
Lamarr's film career began to decline in the 1950s; her last film was 1958's The Female Animal, with Jane Powell. In 1966, she published a steamy best-selling autobiography, Ecstasy and Me, but later sued the publisher for what she saw as errors and distortions perpetrated by the book's ghostwriter. She was arrested twice for shoplifting, once in 1966 and once in 1991, but neither arrest resulted in a conviction.
Lamarr was married six times and had two children, Anthony and Denise, with her third husband, the actor John Loder. She also adopted a son, James. In the later years of her life, Lamarr lived quietly in Orlando, Florida. She died on January 19, 2000, at the age of 86.
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