Hedy Lamarr medal designed by Eugene Daub, struck by the Highland Mint in quantities of
140 bronze, 60 pure silver, and 30 gold-plated silver. Obverse: Portrait, DAUB.
Reverse: Portion of patent, “Films have a certain place in time. Technology is forever,”
Hedy Lamarr 1914-2000. 49 x 47 mm.

Hedy Lamarr (neé Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler) was born to Jewish parents in 1914 in Vienna. In early 1933, at age 18, she starred in the movie Ecstasy, where she gained worldwide fame for a brief nude scene.

After she met Louis B. Mayer in Paris, he persuaded her to change her name to Hedy Lamarr and brought her to Hollywood. Lamarr made her American film debut in Algiers (1938), opposite Charles Boyer. According to one viewer, when her face first appeared on the screen, “everyone gasped — Lamarr’s beauty literally took one’s breath away.” Hedy made 18 films from 1940 to 1949. After leaving MGM in 1945, she enjoyed her biggest success as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille‘s Samson and Delilah, the highest-grossing film of 1949. Hedy Lamarr has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Boulevard, adjacent to Vine Street.

During World War II, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be jammed, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course. With the knowledge she had gained about torpedoes from her first husband, she thought of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed. She contacted her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil, to help her develop a device for doing that — and he succeeded by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals.

Lamarr and Antheil drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system, which they patented. However, it was technologically difficult to implement, and at that time the U.S. Navy was not receptive to considering inventions coming from outside the military — especially from a movie star.

Rather, Lamarr used her celebrity status to sell war bonds. Under an arrangement in which she would kiss anyone who purchased $25,000 worth of bonds, she sold $7 million worth in one night.It wasn’t until the 1950s, that engineers began experimenting with ideas documented by Lamarr and Antheil. Their work with spread spectrum technology contributed to the development of GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. So, whenever anyone uses their cell phone or GPS he or she should think of Hedy.

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