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The Story of Hedy Lamarr, a Hollywood Actress Who Was Unlucky to Be So Beautiful

This Hollywood star of the ’30s and ’40s was dating Charlie Chaplin back in the day and was considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. But besides that, she created a device that would cost around $30 billion today.

Bright Side decided to tell you about the destiny of Hedy Lamarr, the actress whose charming head was hiding ideas that were far ahead of their time.

First steps in the world of cinema

Hedy Lamarr was born in Vienna in 1914 and given the name Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler. Her parents were educated, intelligent people of Jewish origin. Her father was a bank director, and her mom was a pianist. From an early age, Lamarr showed interest in theater and cinema and was learning the piano and ballet.


In 1933, the Lamarr was noticed on the stage of a Vienna theatre by the richest man in Austria, Friedrich Mandl. He was so persistent that the young woman agreed to marry him despite the disapproval of her parents. And this was a mistake.

Under the tyranny of a jealous husband

The marriage became a cage for Lamarr and it wasn’t even gold. The jealous husband forbade her to act in movies, spied on and listened to her phone calls, and kept her locked away. He only let her go out escorted by a maid and allocated very poor funds for her life. Even the actress’s jewelry was locked in the safe. The thought that someone else would see his wife in movies worried him so much that he started a hunt for each copy of any film that had her in it.

Eventually, Lamarr gave up and decided to escape. At one of the parties her jealous husband paraded her around to show to others, she asked a British officer for help. He agreed. The actress was packing her suitcases when her husband suddenly came in. He turned on the vinyl disc recorder and Lamarr heard her own voice begging the officer to help her escape. As it turned out, Mandl had been secretly listening to her in the dining room as well.

That’s when the girl went to extremes — she put on her maid’s uniform and sewed in all the jewelry she could manage. She then escaped to London.

To the stars, through hardships and adventures

Hedy Lamarr and Louis Mayer, the president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Things started to go well for Lamarr, as the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Louis Mayer, was also in London when she was there. Lamarr arranged a meeting with him with the help of an agent of the studio who was in charge of talent searching. Mayer offered her a contract for 6 months with a payment of $125 a week. She refused because she knew that her talent was worth more.

But when he left, Lamarr realized she made a mistake because it was a good chance to become a Hollywood star. But it was too late — Mayer was going on a cruise trip back to the United States and all the tickets for this trip were sold out. Lamarr decided to go to extremes again and snuck onboard, presenting herself as a babysitter of a 14-year-old passenger. Mayer was so impressed by the actress’s boldness and the reaction her beauty caused on the cruise ship that he pondered again and offered her a contract for 7 years with a weekly payment of $550.

The birth of a Hollywood diva

Mayer offered the girl to take on the stage name, Hedy Lamarr, in honor of the silent film actress, Barbara La Marr, that his wife admired. He gave her one of the main roles in Algiers (1938) and started to promote the unknown actress to audiences as a very popular Austrian actress and “the most beautiful woman in the world.” And he wasn’t mistaken — when people anxiously visited the cinema to see her on-screen, they were astonished. The beauty of Hedy Lamarr took their breath away.

Starting from this moment, Lamarr took on the image of a gorgeous beauty of exotic origin. She earned great success thanks to her role of Delilah in Samson and Delilah (1949). Though she starred together with many popular actors of that time, such as Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and Charles Boyer, most of her characters had very few lines. Her developed brain was suffering from a lack of stimulation. And while the on-screen actress was surrounded by men’s attention, the real Hedy Lamarr was exhausted by boredom, loneliness, and home-sickness.

The hidden passion of Hedy Lamarr

As a child, Lamarr avidly listened to her father’s stories about how things worked. At the age of 5, she disassembled and assembled a music box. Later, her inquiring mind absorbed all the information she heard from scientists at meetings organized by her first husband, Friedrich Mandl. While taking a rest from acting in her trailer, she made some real discoveries.

And once, at one of the gala dinners in 1940, Lamarr met a man who shared her passion. Together with the composer George Antheil, they developed the idea for a device that they patented as a “secret communication device.” But, apparently, they were too ahead of their time, as the idea was rejected. But decades later, based on the original concept of Lamarr and Antheil, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were developed.

Snow White with Einstein’s brain

Hedy Lamarr had 6 husbands and many lovers. Her last husband was her divorce lawyer. After divorcing him, Lamarr didn’t get married again. And the woman whose charming face inspired Disney artists to create the image of Snow White lived in loneliness her last 35 years.

In the ’60s, when her beauty started to fade, Hollywood no longer needed her, and her career began to decline. As a result, Lamarr lived on a tiny retirement payment of just $48 a week.

Only in 1997 did she receive an award for her invention, but no monetary reward followed. However, well into the end of her life, Lamarr continued to create things, like a fluorescent collar, a new type of traffic light, and modifications for a supersonic liner. However, these inventions remained useless to people.

Bonus

Hedy Lamarr’s life resembled an adventurous movie, and there is one more fact we would like to mention. Once, the actress was taking part in a fundraising activity where she would kiss anyone who donated $25,000. Eventually, people say she had to kiss 680 people and collected $17 million. However, it’s likely that she was everywhere kissing the same man, sailor Eddie Rhodes, who was traveling with her to raise funds across the country and would hide in the crowd before each performance.

Therefore, the life of Hedy Lamarr has been overgrown with legends and speculations over time. It has been announced that a new series based on the actress’ life, starring Gal Gadot, is going to be filmed soon. We are looking forward to seeing it, and we hope you are too.

Have you or any of your friends ever been treated differently due to your appearance? What, in your opinion, helps to achieve success in life — intelligence or beauty?

Bright Side/People/The Story of Hedy Lamarr, a Hollywood Actress Who Was Unlucky to Be So Beautiful
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