The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Hedy Lamarr is one of my favorite historical figures. I was blown away by her story when studying her life for an in-depth research project in high school. Lamarr was a multi-faceted Renaissance woman, who has yet to fully see her legacy properly credited.
Lamarr was born in Austria, while Nazi Germany was on the rise. She was Jewish. She married a powerful arms seller, who sold to fascist leaders, like Mussolini. She escaped the toxic marriage and left for America. While on the boat over to America she ran into Louis B. Mayer. Mayer was the head of MGM studios. She convinced Mayer she would be a star in Hollywood and earned herself an acting contract.
In the 1940s, she became a household name after starring in films like Samson and Delilah. She was beautiful and seen as a major sex symbol. In addition to her good looks, she was also very intelligent. She had a mind for science and inventing. Alongside her partner, the pianist George Antheil, she invented frequency hopping. They invented frequency hopping to aid the allies in World War II. Frequency hopping involved sending signals from one submarine to a missile to shoot down enemy ships. She submitted the patent and it was never used during the war. Years later, the patent was discovered and stolen. Her technology was applied to invent GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi.
Hedy Lamarr never received credit for her contributions to founding the basis of our modern technology. She was never taken seriously as an inventor because she was simply seen as a beautiful woman. It was not until recently that her story has been gaining more traction in the media. A major documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story helped to reveal the whole truth and earned Lamarr more credit for her work after her passing. I definitely recommend watching the documentary to learn more about the powerhouse Hedy Lamarr.
During Women’s History Month and every month, I celebrate Hedy Lamarr for all the barriers she overcame. Lamarr’s story portrays “the box” that many women are put into today. The patriarchy enforces the thinking that women cannot be both beautiful and smart. Women are not allowed to have strengths in multiple areas without having to fight off social constructs. Lamarr is so inspiring because she never listened to that rigid way of thinking. She followed both of her passions in acting and inventing, despite only earning popularity for her work on the screen.