Day 96 of Colourisation Project – August 11
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
On this day, August 11, 1942, screen idol, Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler) and composer George Antheil received an American patent for a frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) communication system which paved the way for today’s wireless communications and WiFi technology.
Although better known for her silver screen exploits, Hedy Lamarr possessed a keen intellect and ranks amongst the 20th century’s most influential inventors, though it wasn’t fully recognised at the time. Her invention was deemed crucial to national defense during World War 2 and publication of its details was prohibited by government officials.
Critical in the prevention of enemy code interceptions, it proved to be of great significance decades later when it was first implemented on naval ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis. More importantly, Lamarr’s ‘spread spectrum’ technology formed the technical backbone of our modern wireless communications systems. So really, we have Hedy Lamarr to be thankful to, for our smart phones and wireless devices.
Lamarr received very little recognition at the time, however 55 years after receiving the patent for their invention, she and George Anthiel were honored in 1997 with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award, for their ‘trail-blazing development of a technology that has become a key component of wireless data systems.’
In that same year, Lamarr also became the first female recipient of the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, a prestigious prize dubbed ‘The Oscar of Inventing.’
Brilliant, Beautiful and Bold is the headline on The Official Site of Hedy Lamarr. Fans and critics alike agree on her exceptional beauty and smoldering sensuality. Billed as ‘the most beautiful ever to appear in film,’ Lamarr felt her looks only hindered her acting career, thus the source of much angst for her. “My face,” she said, “has been my misfortune…a mask I cannot remove. I must live with it. I curse it.”
She exuded a kind of sultriness that made her one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1940s but before moving to Hollywood, Lamarr already had a film career in Germany, which earned her the title of ‘the most beautiful woman in Europe,’ if not the most controversial. She garnered a degree of notoriety after starring in Ecstasy, a 1933 Czech film which featured full frontal nude shots and tight closeups of her simulating orgasm. The film scandalized all of Europe, received special denunciation by the Pope and was banned by the US government which declared it ‘dangerously indecent.’
But that didn’t stop Louis B Mayer from MGM signing her up. Lamarr became part of MGM’s ‘Golden Age,’ but that’s a story for another time.
A visionary who shattered stereotypes, Lamarr’s really was a beautiful mind. Her technological acumen was far ahead of its time.
She died in Hollywood in 2000 from heart failure at the age of 85 and her ashes were spread in the Vienna Woods in Austria
“I must quit marrying men who feel inferior to me. Somewhere there must be a man who could be my husband and not feel inferior. I need a superior inferior man.” – Hedy Lamarr (married 6 times)