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Author photo. Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?TH-27917">NYPL Digital Gallery</a> (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Hedy Lamarr (1913–2000)

Author of Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman

Includes the names: Hedy Lamar, Hedy Lamarr

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in Vienna, Austria. Her father Emil Kiesler was a banker and her mother Gertrud was a Hungarian-born pianist who converted to Christianity. In 1933, at age 19, she married Friedrich Mandl, a wealthy munitions manufacturer. That same year, she achieved worldwide attention for her starring role in the Czech film Ecstasy, which included full nudity in some scenes. Her marriage was unhappy, and she fled to Paris, then went to London. There she met Louis B. Mayer, who signed her to a contract with MGM and changed her name to Hedy Lamarr. She made her American film debut in Algiers (1938) and went on to make many film with the era's most popular leading men. Her biggest success was as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah, the highest-grossing film of 1949. Hedy was also fascinated by, and adept with, mathematics and science. Hoping to help with the war effort, she worked with a neighbor, George Antheil, a composer, to create an early frequency-hopping system that would enable radio-guided torpedoes to avoid interference jamming. They received a patent for their invention in 1942, although the U.S. Navy would not employ the technology for another two decades. The frequency-hopping idea also served as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as Bluetooth and some cordless and wireless telephones. She published her autobiography, Ecstasy and Me, in 1966.
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