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  • Hedy Lamarr led a pretty nonconventional life

  • for a Hollywood starlet.

  • From fleeing a life in Nazi-occupied Austria

  • and a Nazi-loving husband, to helping create technology

  • for the US military, Hedy was more than just a pretty face.

  • Hedy Lamarr, the Nazi-fighting bombshell

  • who made cell phones possible.

  • Today we're exploring the badass life of Hedy Lamarr.

  • But before we do, why don't you click on that subscribe button?

  • It's what Hedy Lamarr would have wanted.

  • Now, let's get heavy on Hedy.

  • Hedy Lamarr was born into an affluent family

  • in Vienna, Austria during the heyday of Viennese

  • intellectualism in 1914.

  • Her father was a successful banker,

  • and her mother was a gifted concert pianist.

  • Vienna, in the early 20th century,

  • was a real hotbed for geniuses, nurturing

  • the brains of Sigmund Freud and artist Gustave Klimt,

  • amongst many others.

  • Hedy's education reflected her higher social standing.

  • She was taught through private tutors

  • before eventually attending a finishing school.

  • She left school to pursue a life on the stage and screen,

  • at only 16 years old.

  • Lamarr was first married in 1933 at the young age

  • of 18 years old, to an extremely wealthy man

  • named Friedrich Fritz Mandel.

  • Fritz was a rather controlling husband.

  • Lamarr claimed that the stone cold charmer kept her

  • as a prisoner in her own home.

  • Fritz's wealth was made from that sweet, sweet arms

  • manufacturing money, a lucrative business in Europe

  • in the years leading up to World War II.

  • Unfortunately, he was also on the wrong side of history.

  • This bona fide catch was a big old fan of Benito Mussolini

  • and Adolf Hitler.

  • As she saw into the reality of her marriage

  • to a Hitler sympathizer and the increasingly dangerous

  • political climate of Europe, Lamarr

  • knew it was time to get the hell out of there.

  • But it wouldn't be easy.

  • Lamarr executed an elaborate, dramatic escape from Fritz.

  • Her plan sounded like something that was lifted

  • right out of one of her movies.

  • It involved drugging her husband,

  • dressing up as one of the maids, fleeing to Paris,

  • filing for divorce, and then moving

  • to London, a place where Fritz couldn't follow her.

  • Still, this is half as crazy as Katie Holmes

  • trying to flee Tom Cruise.

  • Hedy Lamarr walked, so Katie Holmes could run.

  • Before she became Ms. Lamarr, well-known Hollywood actress,

  • Hedy used her maiden name by birth, Hedy Kiesler,

  • to light up the European big screen.

  • She changed her name when she moved to the United States,

  • setting her sights for Tinseltown as soon as she

  • escaped her Nazi-loving husband.

  • While in London, she met with Louis B. Mayer, one of the Ms

  • in MGM.

  • And as a co-founder of the famed MGM movie studio,

  • he was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.

  • Mayer offered her a six-month contract on the spot in London,

  • but lowballed her significantly at an insulting $150 a week.

  • Even by 1930s standards, that's laughable.

  • And Lamarr knew she was worth more.

  • She booked passage on the same ship

  • Mayer was taking back to America to convince him of this

  • as well.

  • She spent their many days on the ocean, laying on the charm

  • to Mayer, and probably making for a ruined vacation

  • for a man just trying to cross the sea in peace.

  • It worked, however, and he agreed

  • to a contract, almost three times the amount originally

  • offered, at $500 a week.

  • It was Mayer who suggested she change her name, using

  • the last name Lamarr as an homage

  • to the former starlet Barbara Lamarr, who tragically died

  • young in 1926, but not by being thrown overboard

  • by an annoyed studio executive.

  • Hedy eventually made her way to America and Hollywood

  • and grew into a star.

  • Like many notable stars at the time,

  • she enlisted herself in USO tours

  • across the country to sell war bonds,

  • just like Steve Rogers in the first Captain America movie.

  • Her presence at these events was a big draw,

  • attracting thousands of fans, who

  • in turn would pay for autographs,

  • and yes, even kisses.

  • By signing her name on a photograph

  • and kissing a bunch of strangers,

  • Lamarr raised a reported $7 million in one night.

  • Hollywood did its best to do what

  • it could to support the war efforts during World War II,

  • whether it was hocking war bonds or putting on killer USO

  • shores.

  • But besides kisses, Hedy Lamarr also

  • contributed to defeating the Axis in other ways.

  • In 1940, she enlisted the help of composer George Antheil,

  • to help flesh out an idea she had

  • for a new frequency-hopping system,

  • capable of guiding and protecting American torpedoes

  • underwater.

  • She realized if radio signals traveled across constantly

  • changing radio frequencies, it could

  • sort of serpentine its way to avoid being jammed, making

  • it easier to guide torpedoes through unfriendly waters.

  • Though the Navy passed on their invention,

  • they did file away the patent as top secret.

  • Today, we can thank Lamarr and Antheil

  • for our Netflix streaming capabilities,

  • since their frequency-hopping technique would

  • be essential for the development of cell phones, Wi-Fi,

  • and Bluetooth.

  • Before her technology was used to put a little computer

  • in everybody's pocket to look at pictures of other people's

  • food, it was useful more minor items,

  • like preventing full-scale nuclear war.

  • In 1962, with America playing a risky game of nuclear chicken

  • with the Soviet Union via Cuba, otherwise known

  • as the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy

  • set up a Naval blockade around the country of Cuba.

  • Every ship was outfitted with Lamarr's invention.

  • Unfortunately for Lamarr, the patent

  • for her groundbreaking invention had

  • expired by the time the Navy came around,

  • and no credit or monetary compensation

  • was awarded to her or Antheil a theme

  • that would become unfortunately common in her life.

  • It wasn't until the '90s when her second life

  • as a whip-smart inventor was thrust into the spotlight.

  • An article in Forbes, published in 1990, profiled Hedy Lamarr,

  • and her scientific inventions were publicly acknowledged

  • for the first time.

  • By this time, Hedy was in her late '70s, but the recognition

  • for accomplishments having nothing to do with her looks

  • was satisfying--

  • not long delayed, nonetheless.

  • When she was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation

  • Award in 1997 for her contributions

  • to scientific innovation, she reportedly said, "Well,

  • it's about time."

  • Damn right, Hedy.

  • Hedy's most controversial film of her esteemed career

  • was most definitely Ecstasy, a film

  • she started when she was only 18 years old.

  • Not only did she appear nude in this film,

  • she also earned the distinction of being

  • the first female on-screen to act out her climaxing,

  • though hardly the first female to fake one.

  • The movie premiered in 1933 to much controversy,

  • with many countries banning the film altogether.

  • Filming the scandalous scene itself

  • was not exactly a trip to Disneyland for Lamarr either.

  • The director of the film, Gustav Machaty,

  • pressured the young 18-year-old actress

  • into filming the nude scenes, despite her objections.

  • He went as far as to poke Lamarr with a safety pin

  • during the filming of the sex scene

  • in order to capture shots of her face

  • contorted in pain, which were passed off as pleasure.

  • Ouch.

  • Lamarr's look certainly gave her a leg up

  • in an industry as famously surface level as Hollywood.

  • But she ultimately saw it more as a curse than a blessing.

  • Growing up, her mother, Gertrude wouldn't even

  • allow her to look at her own reflection,

  • discouraging her from looking in the mirrors as one

  • would a vampire.

  • Her looks might have helped her land roles

  • and navigate that beautiful, vain landscape of Hollywood,

  • but it didn't shield her completely

  • from the pitfalls of being a natural beauty in show

  • business.

  • In her 1966 autobiography, she called

  • her looks a curse, since her career revolved

  • so much around them.

  • However, this is from the same woman who, yes,

  • turned down the lead role in Casablanca,

  • so some poor career choices can't all be blamed on,

  • I was just too pretty.

  • Later in life, she fell into the stereotypical trope

  • of the aging actress choosing to go under the knife, rather

  • than age gracefully.

  • Lamarr received so many plastic surgeries,

  • she soon retreated from the public eye

  • and rarely went out in public.

  • She even declined to show up to receive an award recognizing

  • her scientific achievements, choosing instead

  • to accept the award over the phone, which is a weird way

  • to receive an award, but a great way not to leave your house.

  • Hedy Lamarr was not a fan of the Nazis.

  • But she was a big, big fan of getting married

  • Hedy was the Ross Geller of a group,

  • getting married and divorced five times in her lifetime.

  • After fleeing her first marriage to a guy who--

  • it can't be stressed enough--

  • loved Hitler, she would go on to marry four more

  • dudes in the next 26 years.

  • She finally hung up her veil and called

  • it quits in 1965, when her fifth and final divorce went through.

  • As her star began to dim in Hollywood

  • and audiences moved on to the next Jane Fondas and Jennifer

  • Anistons of the big and small screens,

  • Hedy turned to petty crimes to deal

  • with the rejection and loneliness

  • that comes from surviving international fame.

  • In January of 1966, she stole a variety of items

  • from a Los Angeles Department store

  • that were valued at a mere $86, an amount she surely

  • could have afforded then, even if today, would only

  • pay for parking.

  • When confronted by the security guard, Lamarr said in a panic,

  • other stores let me do it, which can only be assumed

  • was not the case, as shoplifting is and always has

  • been a frowned upon crime most stores discourage.

  • She would continue her crime ring

  • of stealing dumb things when she moved to Florida

  • and found herself embedded in a shoplifting scandal

  • after taking $21 and $0.48 worth of merchandise from a drug

  • store, or one variety pack of White Claw.

  • Again, this pioneering woman walked so Winona Ryder

  • could run away from the police.

  • So what do you think of Ms. Lamarr?

  • Let us know in the comments below, and while you're at it,

  • check out some of these other videos from our Weird History.

Hedy Lamarr led a pretty nonconventional life

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Hedy Lamarr The Hollywood Bombshell Who Fought Nazis and Made Cell Phones Possible

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/22
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