During her first marriage, Lamarr developed an interest in applied science, and bored by her acting career, utilized this knowledge as an inventor. At the commencement of World War II, keen to aid the Allied war effort, she identified jamming of Allied radio communications by the Axis as a particular problem, and with composer George Antheil, developed spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat it. Though the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of her work are now incorporated into modern Wi-Fi, CDMA and Bluetooth technology, and this work led to her being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014
Early life and European film career
Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, the only child of Gertrud "Trude" Kiesler (née Lichtwitz; 3 February 1894 – 27 February 1977) and Emil Kiesler (27 December 1880 – 14 February 1935). Her father was born in Lemberg (nowadays Lviv in Ukraine) and was a successful bank director. He died before the Holocaust, and later Hedy, through her influence as an actress, was able to rescue her mother from this plight.
Her mother was a pianist and Budapest native who came from the "Jewish haute bourgeoisie". Stephen Michael Shearer, a Lamarr biographer, asserts that Lamarr's mother had converted from Judaism to Catholicism and was a "practising Christian".
In the late 1920s, Lamarr was discovered as an actress and brought to Berlin by producer Max Reinhardt. Following her training in the theater, she returned to Vienna, where she began to work in the film industry, first as a script girl, and soon as an actress.
In early 1933, at age 18, she starred in Gustav Machatý's film, Ecstasy (Ekstase in German, Extase in Czech), which was filmed in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Lamarr’s role was that of a neglected young wife married to an indifferent older man. The film became notorious for showing Lamarr's face in the throes of orgasm as well as close-up and brief nude scenes in which she is seen swimming and running through the woods.
In 1933 she married Friedrich Mandl, a wealthy Austrian military arms merchant. He objected to what he felt was exploitation of his wife and "the expression on her face" during the simulated orgasm. He purportedly bought up as many copies of Ecstasy as he could find in an attempt to restrict its public viewing. In her autobiography, she insists that all sexual activity in the film was simulated, and the orgasm was achieved using "method acting reality". The authenticity of passion was attained by the film director's off-screen manipulation of a safety pin strategically poking her bottom. Lamarr had married Mandl at the age of 19 on 10 August 1933.
Reputed to be the third richest man in Austria, Mandl was a munitions manufacturer. In her autobiography Ecstasy and Me, Lamarr described Mandl as extremely controlling, preventing her from pursuing her acting career and keeping her a virtual prisoner, confined to their castle home, Schloss Schwarzenau. Although half-Jewish himself, Mandl had close social and business ties to the fascist government of Italy and nazist government of Germany, selling munitions to Mussolini.
Lamarr wrote that Mussolini and Hitler had attended lavish parties hosted at the Mandl home. Mandl had her accompany him to business meetings, where he conferred with scientists and other professionals involved in military technology. These conferences were her introduction to the field of applied science and the ground that nurtured her latent talent in science.
Lamarr's marriage to Mandl eventually became unbearable, and she decided to separate herself from both him and her country. She wrote in her autobiography that she disguised herself as her maid and fled to Paris. However, rumors claimed that Lamarr persuaded Mandl to let her wear all of her jewelry for a dinner, then disappeared.
Grave of Hedy Lamarr at Vienna's Central Cemetery, Group 33 D No. 80 (Dec. 2014)
Lamarr died in Casselberry, Florida, on 19 January 2000, aged 85. Her death certificate cited three causes: heart failure, chronic valvular heart disease, and arteriosclerotic heart disease. Her death coincided with her daughter Denise's 55th birthday. Her son Anthony Loder took her ashes to Austria and spread them in the Vienna Woods, in accordance with her last wishes