Since today is Hedy Lamarr’s 101st birthday (thanks for the reminder, Google!), I’m re-posting something I wrote about her, three years ago.
Thanks for stopping by!
Fans of old movies know Hedy Lamarr, star of 1930s and 40s American films, such as Ziegfield Girl, and Samson and Delilah. She was dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world,” and worked with such Hollywood greats as Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Stewart, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Louis B. Mayer, and Cecil B. DeMille.
Ah, but you know there’s more, right? Apparently, Lamarr was one smart cookie, and loved to tinker. Did you know that, during World War II, she co-invented a frequency-hopping torpedo guidance system? It was designed to evade the enemy’s jamming devices. She received the patent for it in 1942. If you think about it, it’s a precursor to what we now call spread-spectrum communication technology, used in wifi and cell phones.
So how did this come about, and why didn’t the U.S. Navy jump on it when she offered to give it to them during the war? Check out the following video clip (only 4 minutes) for the fascinating story:
So what do you all think: was the device not taken seriously because one of its inventors was a beautiful, wildly successful actress, or the idea itself seemed too weird? What about today’s Hollywood celebrities: do they struggle to “cross over” in the public sector, and be taken seriously in other endeavors? I’d love to hear from you!
For anyone who’s interested, The Atlantic website has an index of links to more celebrity patents. Check it out here: Celebrity Invention. My fave? That’s a tough one: I’m torn between Lawrence Welk’s accordion ashtray and Bill Nye’s ballet slipper. LOL!
Until next time…keep tinkering!
…and in case anyone missed it:
Just Released: a new Concordia Wells Mystery!
Unseemly Ambition: book 4 of the Concordia Wells Mysteries
Murder aboard the Overland Limited…
It is the summer of 1898. Professor Concordia Wells is eager to accompany her friend, Pinkerton detective Penelope Hamilton, on a cross-country train trip to San Francisco. Breathless vistas and exciting locales will be a welcome change from a fiancé impatient to set a wedding date and the threat of revenge from the remaining Inner Circle members back in Hartford.
But Concordia should know there is no such thing as a free ride. When the Pinkerton Agency switches assignments at the last minute, she and Miss Hamilton have their work cut out for them. Fellow passengers prove to be both help and hindrance: a lady reporter in hiding, a con man…and a corpse or two. Then there is the handsome gentleman with the dark hair, green eyes, and a secret agenda of his own. Good thing Concordia is an engaged lady. Or is it?
Start reading at the click of a button: