Scilebrities – Hedy Lamarr

scilebrities hedy lamarr

Hollywood is usually a place that you relate to beautiful people, insane wealth, sports cars, dogs in handbags, mansions and scientific invention….sorry wait that last one can’t be true, or can it. Hedy Lamarr was an actress that came to fame in the early 1940’s but disappointingly she was not famous for a far more exciting reason.

She possessed the kind of beauty that would stop traffic, an almost smouldering sensuality and she was once dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world.” She even rubbed shoulders on the silver screen with big time actors like Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart but unfortunately most people only remembered her looks rather than her true brilliance, a regret she carried with her to her grave.

Hedy’s true passion was inventing and it was her idea for a secret communications system (specifically one that could guide a torpedo using a technology called “frequency hopping” so that signal couldn’t be intercepted) that she should really be remembered for. Her real passion was an amazing obsession with invention and one can only speculate a how brilliant she really was possessing such a high intelligence in a male dominated world. She even aside one room in her home, had a drafting table installed with the proper lighting, and the proper tools and had a whole wall in the room of just engineering reference books.

Hedy Lamarr & Clarke Gable
Hedy Lamarr & Clarke Gable

It was a hobby that remained obscured in the shadow of her celebrity status, one she rarely revealed, even to her own son Anthony Loder: “She was such a creative person, I mean, non-stop solution finding. If you talked about a problem, she had a solution.”

Most of Hedy’s inventions, including a better Kleenex box and a new traffic signal never really went anywhere but her idea for that radio-controlled torpedo got a patent and if it wasn’t for the US military’s blas’e dismissal of a “woman’s” invention she many have continued to invent and create amazing things. As her movie career petered out she watched in silence as other “frequency hopping” inventors took the technology to heights she never could have imagined.

Today, frequency hopping is used in most wireless technology that we have in our homes, GPS, satellite communication systems and a lot lot more. Hedy died alone in Florida at the age of 86, her obituaries began with what everyone already knew, her beauty, and made only glancing references to the invention she had hoped would prove her mind was beautiful, too.

We salute you Hedy Lamarr, you are an inspiration and proof that just because you are beautiful or a Hollywood actor you can appreciate and participate in scientific thought and discovery. You are an inspiration.

If you want to listen to a great audio book about her life check out Hedy’s Folly from

hedy audible

Stay Curious – C.Costigan



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