Today is Hedy Lamarr’s 101st birthday, as you may have noticed thanks to today’s Google Doodle. You may know Hedy for her film career that spanned from the 1930s through the 1950s or simply as “the most beautiful woman in Hollywood.” But there’s a lot more to her than that. She had a pretty incredible life. In honor of her b-day, here are five things you need to know about this badass lady.
1. She was the first movie star to simulate a female orgasm onscreen.
In the highly controversial 1933 Czech romantic drama, Ecstasy, Lamarr swims in the nude and runs through a countryside naked. It was the very first non-pornographic movie to portray sexual intercourse and female orgasm. During her simulated orgasm scene, only Lamarr’s face was shown. Scandalousss. She was only 18-years-old at the time.
2. She had to party with Mussolini and Hitler.
In 1933, Hedy married Friedrich Mandl, a wealthy fascist arms manufacturer and the third richest man in Austria. According to Hedy, Mandl often threw lavish parties in their Austrian home, which both Mussolini and Hitler frequently attended. The men were likely unaware that their hostess Hedy was born to a mother who came from the Jewish haute bourgeoisie in Budapest and a secular Jewish father from the Ukraine. When World War II was looming in Europe and her marriage became unbearable because of a controlling Mandl, Hedy devised a plan to escape her husband and country.
3. She posed as a prostitute and a maid to escape her first husband.
According to her 1966 autobiography Ecstasy and Me, Hedy hid in an empty room of a brothel while attempting to flee her husband. When a man entered the room, she had sex with him so she could remain unrecognized. She was finally able to escape by hiring a maid who resembled her, drugging the maid, and using her uniform as a disguise. That’s intense.
4. Upon moving to Hollywood, she changed her name to Hedy Lamarr.
A talent scout named Louis B. Mayer hired chose Hedy’s name when he hired her in 1937. Her real name was Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler. The surname Lamarr was chosen as a tribute to the silent film star, Barbara La Marr.
5. She patented the “Secret Communication System.”
In 1942, Lamarr and composer George Antheil patented an idea that became a key part of secure military communications and mobile phone technology. The original idea was developed as a way to block signals from radio-controlled missiles during World War II. The US Navy didn’t start using the technology until the 1960s, but the principles of her work are now an important part of modern Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth technology. This work led to her being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014. She was way more than just a gorgeous face.
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