Hollywood star, Hedy Lamarr in Let's Live a Little, 1948.
Hollywood star, Hedy Lamarr in Let's Live a Little, 1948.

On this Day: Famous Birthdays

Hedy Lamarr

09/11/1914 - 19/01/2000 (aged 85).

"Perhaps my problem in marriage, and it is the problem of many women, was to want both intimacy and independence. It is a difficult line to walk, yet both needs are important to a marriage.”

1914: Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler was born in Vienna, Austria and the only child of Gertrud "Trude” Kiesler and Emil Kiesler and was an Austrian and American film actress and inventor, having studied theatre in Berlin. She was married and divorced six times.

1933: Starred in Ecstasy in which Lamarr is very briefly seen swimming in the nude and running naked. Married Friedrich Mandl, chairman of the Hirtenberger Patronen-Fabrik, she was 18 years old and he was 33. She later left him in 1937 and secretly moved to Paris and met MGM head Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood.

Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, known as Hedy Lamarr was born in Vienna, Austria.
Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, known as Hedy Lamarr was born in Vienna, Austria.

1938: Lamarr appeared in numerous popular feature films, including Algiers which was her American film debut opposite Charles Boyer.

1939: Married Gene Markey, screenwriter and producer until 1941.

1940: Starred in I Take This Woman and Comrade X with Clark Gable and Boom Town with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy.

1941: Come Live With Me and H.M. Pulham, Esq. Lamarr was cast alongside Lana Turner and Judy Garland in Ziegfeld Girl. She adopted a son, James during her second marriage to Gene Markey.

1942: Tortilla Flat with Spencer Tracy and John Garfield.

1943: Married John Loder, an actor until 1947.

1945: She had her first biological child, Denise.

1947: Anthony was born with her third husband, actor John Loder and she starred in Dishonored Lady.

1948: Starred in Let's Live a Little.

1949: She enjoyed her biggest success as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah, the highest-grossing film of that year, with Victor Mature Samson and Delilah.

1951: Following a comedic role opposite Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy, her career went into decline. Married Ernest "Ted” Stauffer, nightclub owner, restaurateur, and former bandleader until 1951.

1953: Lamarr became a naturalized citizen of the United States at age 38 on April 10. Married W. Howard Lee until 1960, a Texas oilman (who later married film actress Gene Tierney).

1957: One of her last roles was that of Joan of Arc in Irwin Allen's critically panned epic, The Story of Mankind.

1963: Married Lewis J. Boies, Lamarr's own divorce lawyer until 1965.

1965: Following her sixth and final divorce, Lamarr remained single for the last 35 years of her life.

1966: Her autobiography, Ecstasy and Me, was published. She said on TV that it was not actually written by her, and much of it was fictional. Lamarr later sued the publisher, saying that many details were fabricated by its ghost writer, Leo Guild. She was arrested in Los Angeles for shoplifting. The charges were eventually dropped.

1974: She filed a $10 million lawsuit against Warner Bros., claiming that the running parody of her name "Hedley Lamarr” in the Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles infringed her right to privacy. The 1970s was a decade of increasing seclusion for Lamarr. She was offered several scripts, television commercials, and stage projects, but none were of interest.

1981: Lamarr retreated from public life and settled in Miami Beach, Florida.

1991: She was arrested on a shoplifting charge in Florida, this time for stealing $21.48 worth of laxatives and eye drops. She pleaded "no contest” to avoid a court appearance, and the charges were once again dropped in return for a promise to refrain from breaking any laws for a year. In her later years, Lamarr turned to plastic surgery to preserve the looks she was terrified of losing. She had her breasts enlarged, her cheeks raised, her lips made bigger thinking it could revive her looks and her career, but it backfired and distorted her beauty.

2000: Lamarr died in Casselberry, Florida on January 19, aged 85. Her death certificate cited three causes: heart failure, chronic valvular heart disease, and arteriosclerotic heart disease. Her death coincided with her daughter Denise's 55th birthday. Her son Anthony Loder took her ashes to Austria and spread them in the Vienna Woods, in accordance with her last wishes.

2017: Bombshell - The Hedy Lamarr Story, produced by Susan Sarandon, a documentary about Lamarr's career as an actress and later as an inventor, premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. It will be released in theatres on November 24.

INTERESTING FACT: At the beginning of World War II, Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes, which used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. Although the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of their work are now incorporated into modern Wi-Fi, CDMA, and Bluetooth technology and this work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

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