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Hedy Lamarr was one of the most beautiful and talented actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, but she was a lot more than that. She was also an accomplished inventor and scientist who is credited with several new technologies, some of which are still used today. All of this is shown is a short animation you’ve likely already seen if you needed to perform a web search at all today. If for some reason you didn't check it out, do yourself a favor and do it now. If you did, do yourself a favor and watch again.
Courtesy of the always creative folks behind Google Doodles, the short clip puts together a beautiful summary of a woman whose talents were amazingly diverse. Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914, 101 years ago today, Lamarr's film career began in Germany before she moved to the U.S. in the late 1930s. She worked opposite some of the top actor’s of the day, from Clark Gable to Spencer Tracy to Bob Hope, though she was traditionally cast in roles that focused more on her beauty then her dialogue. The video exemplifies this by showing her in very similar poses about to kiss her leading man, only the costume changes because the films themselves were often interchangeable. The last outfit is a reference to what may be her most famous role, Delilah in 1949’s Samson & Delilah.
There is is so much more to Lamarr, however, than just her screen work. This video shows her looking bored at all the Hollywood glamour while being excited by chemistry, which probably isn’t too far from the truth. Lamarr was actually a very creative individual who was always looking for ways to change or improve things. The actress invented a tablet that turned water into a carbonated drink (although apparently not one anybody would be interested in drinking), and she also made improvements on the automatic stop light, and Google’s video includes both of these creations.
Her greatest contribution to the world, however, was her invention, with collaborator George Antheil, of frequency hopping for radio waves. While originally designed as a way to prevent radio controlled torpedoes from being jammed by the enemy, the technology has gone on to be used in many of our modern communication devices from cordless phones to Wi-Fi. Hedy Lamarr changed the world. There’s really no other way to say it.
Google does a fantastic job of summarizing all of this in barely a minute, without a single word. It’s a fantastic tribute that shows all sides of a woman who was infinitely more complex than her movie roles let her appear. Lamarr was a major inspiration to many of Hollywood’s current leading ladies. For her work both onscreen and off, she’ll never be forgotten.