Inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr
Austrian actress of the 1930s and 1940s, Hedy Lamarr was frequently called the most beautiful woman in motion pictures. Not to admire her beauty is simply impossible. Look at the jewelry, she wore – pearl necklaces, earrings, bracelets and brooches. Generally, in those years, for movie and advertising photography actresses wore their own decorations. The taste of the actress is elegant and flawless. She will forever be remembered not only as one of the most beautiful women ever to grace a motion picture screen, but also as a smart woman.
She first created a sensation when she appeared nude in the Czechoslovakian film, Ecstasy in 1933. The daughter of a director of the Bank of Vienna, Hedwig Kiesler had a privileged childhood. Even as a teenager, she was extraordinarily beautiful, and at least one man committed suicide when she would not marry him. After becoming enamored of acting, Kiesler was mildly successful as a stage and film actress. When she married munitions millionaire Fritz Mandl in 1933, he was so insanely jealous that he tried to buy up every copy of Ecstasy so that it could be destroyed.
Despite the fact that Mandl was a Jew, he was still accepted into the closed world of the Nazi Party of the 1930s. Kiesler was disgusted by this, and by the fact that he kept her a virtual prisoner in their castle. Eventually she was able to escape to Paris, where she obtained a divorce from Mandl in 1937.
Kiesler then moved to London, where she met agent Bob Ritchie, who introduced her to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer mogul Louis B. Mayer. Mayer brought her to Hollywood and renamed her Hedy Lamarr after a silent screen star he had admired — Barbara La Marr. Lamarr’s first picture in America, Algiers (1938) quickly elevated her to international stardom.
Hedy Lamarr followed up her debut with appearances in several more successful films, including Ziegfield Girl (1941) and White Cargo (1942). The latter sparked a turban fashion craze when Lamarr wore one in the film. She was also a popular World War II pinup, and participated in war bond and United Service Organization (USO) tours.
During the war she was also granted a patent as co-inventor of a complex communication system designed to direct torpedoes at moving ship targets. After the war ended, Lamarr’s popularity quickly began to slip, although she did star with Victor Mature in the 1949 hit, Samson and Delilah.
After her first marriage ended, she married five more times. Among her husbands were actor John Loder (1943-1947) and screenwriter Gene Markey (1939). Lamarr appeared in her last feature film, The Female Animal, in 1957. She quickly faded from view, except for an occasional television appearance.
In 1966 she was charged with shoplifting from May’s Department Store, but was acquitted. A supposed autobiography, Ecstasy and Me, also appeared in the 1960s, although Lamarr later sued her ghostwriters, claiming the story was fiction. She again disappeared from the public eye, although she had some success as a songwriter and artist in Greenwich Village. Although she was not a movie star for long, Hedy Lamarr was an important star at an important time in history.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Vol. 3. K-O