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Person of the day- Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, born Hedwig Keiser in 1914, was an Austrian-American actress & inventor. ⠀

As a child, Keiser showed an interest in acting & was fascinated by theatre & film. At age 18, Kiesler was given the lead in the sexually controversial film role, Ecstasy where she received world recognition.⠀

Hedy appeared in a series of plays in Vienna & garnered many admirers. One particularly insistent admirer later became Hedy’s husband, Friedrich Mandl, who turned out to be incredibly controlling of the young actress. Finding her marriage to Mandl eventually unbearable, Keiser decided to flee her husband as well as her country. According to her autobiography, she disguised herself as her maid and fled to Paris and then London.⠀

Hedy met the head of MGM, who was scouting for talent in Europe. She initially turned down the offer he made her but booked herself onto the same New York-bound liner as he. During the trip, she impressed him enough to secure a $500 a week contract. Mayer persuaded her to change her last name to Lamarr.⠀

She soon became one of Hollywood's leading ladies with a string of successful films starring opposite Spencer Tracy & Clark Gable. ⠀

Although Lamarr had no formal training, she worked in her spare time on various inventions, which included an improved traffic stoplight & a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated drink.⠀

Aviation tycoon Howard Hughes worked with Lamarr to improve the design of his planes. She suggested he change the rather square design to a more streamlined shape, based on pictures of the fastest birds & fish she could find.⠀

During WWII, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be jammed and set off course. She thought of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked. She conceived an idea and contacted her friend, composer George Antheil, to help her implement it.⠀

Today, various spread-spectrum techniques are incorporated into Bluetooth technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of Wi-Fi.⠀

In the last decades of her life, Lamarr became reclusive & communicated only by telephone with the outside world. She died in 2000 at age 85.

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