“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” – H.Lamarr
If you doubt that beauty is a curse then the life of Hedy Lamarr will quickly educate you on how a woman, famously dubbed as “the most beautiful girl in the world” had so much more that should have been celebrated.
Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler to a Jewish pianist and banker (Gertrud Keisler), Hedy was destined for fame due to her drop-dead gorgeous looks and flair for acting. She began acting at an early age but made the fatal mistake of starring in a film called Ecstasy when she was 18 years old. The scandal behind this movie—which was around 1933 was due to her being nude in a number of scenes and having her pretty face expressing what appeared to be an orgasm.
This movie embarrassed her arms manufacturing husband Friedrich Mandl and he attempted – unsuccessfully – to purchase every copy of it to destroy in order to hide the “exploitation” of his wife. Part of Hedy’s scandalous past was also due to this husband “Fritz” who despite being half-Jewish rubbed elbows with the likes of Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler.
When the Nazi party grew to rise and the horror of the Holocaust was in its dawn, Hedy fled her native Austria and her husband Fritz in order to avoid the genocide. Part of her legend says that in order to escape her husband, Hedy hid out in an empty room of a brothel and when a stranger entered the room looking for favors she made love to him in order to carry out the façade and send poor Fritz home empty-handed… this is of course alleged.
Fritz was not happy with his wife – who appeared to be having real sex on film – having an orgasm for the entire world to see. In her autobiography Hedy states that the orgasm was “simulated” and not real, but the controversy doomed her long career in Hollywood when she signed on with MGM and began starring on the big screen.
“It was inevitable that a beautiful rich girl who had appeared naked on film would end up in Hollywood. Signed by Louis B. Mayer for the pres tigious MGM Studios, Lamarr was loaned out to United Artists for her first American movie, “Algiers” (1938). Appearing opposite Charles Boyer, she was a visual dream, decked out in diamonds and fur-trimmed satin, leaning backward with romantic ennui while Boyer made love to her by reciting the names of subway stops in Paris. Americans ate it up. When Lamarr returned to MGM, she was a household name.” – JEANINE BASINGER
Hedy’s beauty very much like Elizabeth Taylor’s made her typecast as the dark, exotic vixen. Though her talent was enough to gain bigger roles, the Austrian accent, her intimidating beauty, and troubled history kept her regulated to playing certain parts though she yearned for bigger and better roles.
Hedy The Inventor
While many will gush over the one thing that Hedy couldn’t control (her looks), what made her truly special was her inventions. The lady was always coming up with things when she wasn’t acting, dodging scandals, or posing glamorously. Though she called her husband a controlling man who kept her locked away in his castle, Hedy learned a thing or two from his work. Together with George Antheil (a composer) they invented a torpedo guiding system known as “Frequency-hopping” which eventually became one of the earliest attempts at what we now call Wi-Fi.
In 1942 a U.S. Patent was granted to these inventors for coming up with this technology but it was mostly forgotten due to certain factors that made them shelve it until the sixties. Hedy Lamarr was allegedly turned down when she tried to join the National Inventor’s Council because of her celebrity status which the boys felt would do better in selling war bonds.
* * * *
Hedy Lamarr lived a long, spectacular life of 86 years in which she was married 5 times, had 3 children and starred in over 30 films. She is one of the few actresses whose classic beauty could still contend with women of today. She was brilliant, bold, and beautiful. Her death came at the result of heart failure and her ashes were scattered (by her son) back in her birth land of Austria.
You may have never heard of Hedy Lamarr, but I guarantee you that after reading this you will not forget her. Hedy Lamarr is a true Hottie of History.Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.