Google Doodle honors ’40s actress Hedy Lamarr, who helped make Wi-Fi a thing

9 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actor-inventor Hedy Lamarr: Is today’s stunning animation the greatest Google Doodle yet?.

She’s a star from the golden age of cinema and was once billed as ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’ – so it’s only fitting that Hedy Lamarr has received a Google doodle on what would have been her 101st birthday.Lamarr, who died in 2000, would have turned 101 today, but her contributions as a movie star and the fact that it’s her birthday isn’t why she’s being talked about on Twitter today.

Not only is it among the tech titan’s most stylish ever, as well as aptly cinematic, but today’s home-page Doodle, to mark the 101st birthday of the late Hedy Lamarr, will surely spark deeper interest in the screen legend’s amazing life. Her beauty was legendary, but in the 21st century, Lamarr’s stardom is all but forgotten — and the lasting impression she made is actually in the field of invention. Lamarr, born Hedwig Eva Marie Kiesler in 1914 Austria, left Europe and an unhappy marriage to an Austrian munitions maker for Hollywood film work just before World War II. When Lamarr left the Hollywood scene (“All creative people want to do the unexpected.”) she decided to turn her efforts and considerable intellect toward the war effort.

Lamarr’s contribution — coming up with the concept of frequency hopping — is significant. “It’s a story of innovation coming from unlikely places and coming from a woman,” said Steven Johnson, the series presenter. “So often history is told as a procession of men. Born in 1914 as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler she grew up to be cast in the film Ecstasy which became banned in many places due to its seemingly controversial script involving a nudity and Lamarr acting the first female orgasm in a non-pornographic film. One of Hollywood’s most beautifully beguiling actresses ever, Lamarr was known over her quarter-century in cinema for such films as the Oscar-honored “Samson and Delilah (as the title’s sultry knockout), the heist drama “Algiers” (which was nominated for a handful of Oscars) and “Ecstasy,” the 1933 Czech film that was highly controversial for its nudity and sex scenes. More to the point here, she also teamed up with her neighbor, composer George Anthiel, to develop radio frequency-hopping transmission technology that could be used to throw radio-controlled torpedoes off course.

It was a great example of a collaboration.” Lamarr worked with composer George Antheil, who implemented her idea of allowing wireless radio transmissions to be sent and received without being intercepted. Another person who appeared to be against the film was her first husband, the munitions businessman Friedrich Mandl, who rounded-up as many copies as he could, according to the New York Times this was so the audiences didn’t see “the look on her face during the sex scenes.” Lamarr fled the marriage, changed her name and emigrated from Austria, first to London to perform on the West End and then to the USA where she continued to make films, reports the BBC. Together she and Anthiel developed and received a patent on the technology that was later used to secure sensitive U.S. communications during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and became the basis for technology used for all manner of wireless communications. Not content with solely acting, Lamarr used her interest in science to think of ways she could help in the fight against the Nazis during the Second World War. Lamarr, who was of Ukrainian-Hungarian Jewish heritage, eventually made her escape from spouse and situation — she wrote that she fled to France in disguise — and was discovered in Paris by MGM mogul Louis B.

For more coverage from Barb Darrow follow her on Twitter at@gigabarb, read her latest stories at fortune.com/barb-darrow or subscribe via her RSS feed. Lamarr, billed as the “world’s most beautiful woman,” spent the next decade acting opposite such stars as Clark Gable, Charles Boyer, Spencer Tracy and Judy Garland. She played an important role in the development of a ‘secret communications’ device during World War Two, after becoming concerned about the threat of Nazis jamming the radios of the Allies.

Lamarr was not immediately credited for her work, it took years for that to happen, but eventually she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Lamarr biographer Ruth Barton wrote that near the end of her life, Lamarr “had a proposal for a new kind of traffic stoplight and some modifications to the design of the Concorde [airplane].” She was also cooking up plans for a fluorescent dog collar and a device that could help the disabled get in and out of the bathtub.

Most believe that the ideas she developed with co-inventor George Antheil helped lay the groundwork for frequency hopping techniques now commonly found in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular communication systems. Google’s Doodle, which was created by Jennifer Hom, manages to weave in Lamarr’s complicated tale of stardom and invention, with a nod to the sensibilities of that bygone movie era. The movies presented her in magnificent close-up.” “You have her always presented as surface, and it was very hard for her to go beyond that,” Basinger said. “Her surface was so spectacular. Sketching storyboards on a yellow notepad helped me figure out how to show Lamarr in very different scenarios—movie star by day, inventor by night.” It is a fitting tribute to a woman who refused to be defined by her looks and by how others perceived her. In 2008, he praised her work in “The Strange Woman” from 1946. “She was difficult to cast,” Osborne said. “When you’re that beautiful, you can’t play an ordinary person walking down the street.

She was great for ‘Samson and Delilah.'” “All the color drained out of her face,” Osborne said. “The first thing people asked about Hedy was: How did she look? Basinger’s affection grew to respect. “Any woman, movie star or not, born with the exceptional beauty that was Hedy Lamarr’s is not in for an easy time of it,” she said. “She found her way out of it.

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