Spotlight on: Hedy Lamarr

Who was Hedy Lamarr?

Hedy Lamarr, born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna in 1914 to Jewish parents. Despite her first marriage keeping her safe from immediate persecution from the Nazis, she was deeply unhappy and escaped to England one night. Once there, she was scooped up by MGM’s Louis B. Mayer and began her long career with MGM. Hedy was considered the most beautiful woman in Hollywood and even Disney’s Snow White was inspired by her iconic looks. While dazzling audiences on the screen, Hedy was reserved and quiet at home. She kept tinkering: working on traffic lights, or carbonated drink tablets. When she heard about a ship of refugee children being torpedoed by Germans, she was driven to make a change.

Working with musician George Antheil, Hedy developed a frequency-hopping signal that prevented Ally communication radios from being blocked. She submitted a patent, but it was filed away and ignored until years later. Hedy had created one of the most important pieces of technology in our modern life. Her work was used to create Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi. Hedy died in 2000 in Florida aged 85 and her remains were returned to Vienna.