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Hedy Lamarr, Actress and Inventor

Page history last edited by Robert W. Maloy 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Hedy Lamar in the film The Conspirators, 1943

Hedy Lamar in the film The Conspirators, 1943
Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr is now recognized as a female Inventor for her work on a secure radio guidance system for torpedos that was used successfully by the American military during World War II.


  • Along with collaborator George Antheil, she was a pioneer in the field of wireless communications and spread spectrum technology


    • Discovered how to manipulate radio frequencies (called frequency hopping) to form an unbreakable code to protect classified messages from being intercepted by the German military


    • Her work was a forerunner to modern day Bluetooth technology used in mobile phones and Wi-Fi systems.


    • She never received any money for her invention that was largely ignored at the time


  • She was marketed as the most beautiful woman in the world by Hollywood film makers.


    • But she lived an unhappy life as a movie actress beset by scandal, celebrity, sexism and depression.


external image c32c944e43bc3014c5eff6f3fab80273.jpgHere is a link to a lesson plan that allows students to understand the difficulties women in the STEM fields faced to be recognized for their accomplishments.


  • With the focus on Hedy Lamarr, the lesson describes who she was, what she was known for, and the struggles she endured.


  • This plan allows students to understand the difficulties most female inventors and scientists faced in a world that didn't accept them.


  • This lesson plan also touches on the role of women and limitations during World War II as well as the process of obtaining a patent. This emphasizes women in STEM who are not typically taught in school and how few got the recognition they deserved. 



5 Actresses Who Also Work as Scientists




Hedy Lamarr's 101st Birthday Google Doodle (November 9, 2015)


This is a google doodle celebrating the 101st birthday of Hedy Lamarr, highlighting her accomplishments that helped in the development of frequency hopping which is used in bluetooth and GPS technology today.

    • Her birthday, November 9 is also European Inventors Day


Hedy Lamarr:  Inventor of Frequency Hopping on YouTube

Hedy Lamarr: Inventor

See also, Hedy Lamarr, Inventor on Pinterest


5 Facts About Hedy Lamarr, Star, Inventor, Wartime Code Maker


 The brilliant mind of Hollywood legend Hedy Lamarr video


  • This video helps to differentiate learning because it includes old videos, photos, current interviews, and different speakers to help keep the viewer interested and informed in multiple facets of Hedy Lamarr’s story.
    • It even includes Hedy Lamarr’s actual explanation of her thought process in her own voice.


Hedy Lamarr During World War II


Hedy Lamarr attempted to actively aid the United States Army, despite not even being a United States citizen yet. 


When she was dismissed for trying to help create new kinds of torpedoes that would help the military in war, she was told to just sell war bonds.


     She raised $25 million worth of war bonds, translated to $343 million in today's dollars. 


Here is a link to a short video that gives insight to Hedy Lamarr's involvement during World War II and how the people around her would not accept her for being pretty and smart. 


Here is a link to a short video that talks about feminism in Hollywood. Hedy Lamarr, being "one of the most glamorous stars show business has ever produced" and "one of the most beautiful women in the world", was judged and belittled by her face. This short video discusses how people dismissed her desire to do something important with her life and wanting to make her mark in the world, leaving her to be limited to just being a pretty face in Hollywood, and nothing more. 


Link here for more information about Hedy Lamarr's communication patent!


Lamarr Patent, 1941
Lamarr Patent, 1941

external image 200px-Paperback_book_black_gal.svg.pngHedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Invention of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World Richard Rhodes, 2012.

    • The book describes how the Hollywood film star was also a scientific inventor who collaborated on the development of spread-spectrum radio, the technology that made wireless phones, GPS systems, and many other devices of our day possible.


                    Click here for a "Most Beautiful Woman by Day, Inventor by Night," an NPR podcast on the book Hedy's Folly by Richard Rhodes



"Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story" released in 2017 is a documentary dedicated to Hedy Lamarr's invention of technology that would lead to the cell phone and Bluetooth. Directed by Alexandra Dean, this documentary explores how Hedy Lamarr's true legacy is that of a technological trailblazer and she was never publicly talked about as an inventor, so her family assumed her accomplishments would die with her. 


Picture Book:  Hedy Lamarr's Double Life:  Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor, Laurie Wallmark.  Illustrated by Kathy Wu.  (Sterling Children's Books, 2019)



NEW Book:  https://evergreenpodcasts.com/professional-book-nerds/marie-benedict-on-the-only-woman-in-the-room

Marie Benedict is the guest of this podcast discussing the enormous unknown story of Hedy Lamarr, from her first marriage to the richest man in Austria, an arms manufacturer, to her inventions in Hollywood. Amazing!




 Q. To what extent would Hedy Lamarr’s invention have been acknowledged had she not been so known for being a bombshell in Hollywood?

A.  I think she still would have been dismissed, possibly even more than if she was famous. I think that if she was not famous, she would not have the resources to explain her invention to even be turned away. I also think that being a woman during this era was reason enough to belittle her invention to dismiss it quickly without seeing the benefits and technological breakthrough. (Question and response submitted by Callie Sullivan, March 2023)




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