www.whyville.net Aug 3, 2000 Weekly Issue

Hedy Lamarr, a Movie Star Inventor

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Hedy Lamarr, Movie Star Inventor

by Auntie M
Times Columnist

Who says you can't be pretty AND smart?

Hedy Lamarr is a perfect example of a woman who was both a beautiful actress and a great inventor. In fact, her invention has become the basis for satellite communications we have today!

Hedy grew up in Germany and later married a man who made and sold guns to the German army. This was the beginning of World War II, and Hedy was very much against Germany's actions during the war.

Hedy decided to leave her country for safety in London. It was there that Hedy decided she wanted to help with the war effort. She came up with the idea that torpedos could be launched using a certain radio frequency. But, Hedy learned that this radio frequency could be jammed by the Germans, making the torpedos not be able to launch.

Hedy worked with another inventor, George Antheil, to create a system where the radio signals would "jump" from one frequency to another. This way, the signal could not be jammed and the torpedos could be launched successfully.

  Image from www.inventorsmuseum.com

While Hedy was working on her invention she met Louis B. Mayer, who signed her as an actress with MGM studios. Hedy went on to star in such movies as "Samson and Delilah", but she had to keep the fact that she was an inventor a secret. MGM did not want the world to know that their lovely actress was also a great inventor.

It is Hedy's invention that is the basis for the satellite technology we have today. Not only does Hedy's legend as a great actress live on, but so does her amazing invention.



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