I thought I would start my posts with a series, highlighting women in science and medicine. I would like to highlight these brilliant women that might not be well known, but have contributed significantly to the advancements for all humankind.
If someone that you admire and would like to be highlighted here as well, feel free to submit a request with me through redacCie and I will make sure to include them.
Today’s blog post is dedicated to a woman I have admired since I was little. Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler. I think the reason I admire her, is because she was so beautiful and so extremely smart and in addition to that, she was so progressive for her time and completely independent. She was constantly underestimated but she succeeded and never let anyone come between her and her dreams.
Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November 9, 1914, in Vienna, Austria. She was discovered by an Austrian film director as a teenager, and started acting in various movies and gained international notice in 1933, with her role in the progressive film Ecstasy. She married at 20 to a charming German man who was a amunitions manufacturer who sold arms to the Nazis. But he did it secretly and she didn’t know and when she found out, she fled to the United States. There, she instantly signed a contract with the MetroGoldwyn-Mayer studio in Hollywood under the name Hedy Lamarr. She was very determined and successful and upon the release of her first American film, Algiers, Lamarr became an immediate box-office sensation and everyone went crazy for her beauty.In a town filled with stunning women, Lamarr stood out. she was “so beautiful that everybody would stop talking when she came into a room.” But Lamarr also had a natural mathematical ability and lifelong love of tinkering with inventions. One of those ideas of hers was born when she met her Hollywood neighbor, avant garde composer George Antheil, in the summer of 1940. Antheil studied music in Philadelphia and toured Europe as a concert pianist, later he became a composer for film, and also became an author of the book called: Every Man His Own Detective: A Study of Glandular Endocrinology. Legend has it that Lamarr approached him for endocrinological advice but the two soon began chatting about weapons, particularly radio controlled torpedoes and how to protect them from jamming or interference. Because the work is similar to the work he completed previously on piano frequencies they realized that they were talking about the same thing. And their work and frequency design became the basis for their design for a torpedo guidance system. Lamarr contributed the idea of frequency hopping, while Antheil devised a means of synchronizing the rapidly changing radio frequencies envisioned by Lamarr. They submitted their patent on June 10, 1941, and the patent was granted on August 11, 1942. The same basic concept is still used in US defense communication satellites — and in modern cell phone technology.
Lamarr has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in honor of her film career, but she took particular satisfaction in being awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation Award in 1998, more than 50 years after she and Antheil received their patent. “It’s about time,” she reportedly said upon hearing the news. Hedy Lamarr was a phenomenally beautiful, intelligent, creative, witty, opinionated, passionate woman who believed strongly in cultivating inner strength. In addition to being a world famous movie star, wife and mother, she was a visionary inventor twenty years ahead of her time. Lamarr died on January 19, 2000, in her Florida home. Despite her wartime contributions, she will likely always be remembered more for her spectacular beauty than for her technological contributions, which are usually treated as an intriguing footnote to a life that was not exactly devoid of drama. “My face has been my misfortune,” Lamarr once described it, describing it as “a mask I cannot remove. I must live with it. I curse it.”
I think deep down all she wanted was to be a scientist and tinker all day, but the movies and the public loved her so much that she was able to make a big change with charities and donations. Hedy Lamarr encompasses the essence of wholeness, diversity and grace. Before she died, she established a foundation and through the foundation, her incredible spirit will live on to inspire many more generations to achieve their dreams and find the confidence to uncover their higher purpose. The Hedy Lamarr Foundation plans to deliver educational and inspirational information that promotes self-discovery and social accountability.
And that is why she deserves to be celebrated!