I remember last year when my brother started his eminent person project. It seemed like an amazing project and opportunity so I’m really glad I get to experience it myself. I have been thinking about who I would do for my project ever since I got accepted into the Talons program. I wanted to do someone that I was interested in, met the criteria, and hadn’t been done in the last 3 years, but it was quite hard to do. A couple weeks ago I had finally found my eminent person – Hedy Lamarr. The reason I chose her was the fact that she was an Austrian born American actress and inventor. I have never really heard of anyone, male or female being both actress and inventor and I found this very intriguing, so I decided to look deeper.
Often known as “The Most Beautiful Woman in Films” Hedy Lamarr was born on the 9th of November in 1914 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. She started her acting career at age 17 when she starred in the film Geld Auf Der Strase which was a German production. She continued acting in German and Czechoslovakian productions until Hollywood producers discovered her. Her real name is Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, but when she got a contract with MGM the producers insisted she change her name to Hedy Lamarr after Barbra La Marr. In lifetime she had starred in over 30 movies, having a large role in over 25 of them.
Now you’re probably wondering “How is she an inventor? What did she invent?” Well beside from her good looks, she was actually extremely intelligent. In 1942 Composer George Antheil and Hedy worked on an idea they later patented and called the “Secret Communication System”. During World War II they talked about how radio-controlled torpedoes could be easily jammed by the enemy by broadcasting interference of the control signal which caused the torpedo miss and go elsewhere. Together they created the idea to change radio signals simultaneously by using frequency hopping to avoid jamming. The idea at the time wasn’t feasibly due the technology of the time, but later it became the basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology. Now that is very important for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and phones. (Imagine a world without these things now……)
Throughout her life she had been married and divorced 6 times. The last marriage she had was with her divorce lawyer (which I found really ironic). Hedy had three children total with one being adopted. They were James Lamarr Loder, Denise Loder, and Anthony Loder. In her later years she made some poor choices. She shoplifted and her son Anthony, said she was addicted to pills. She also got plastic surgery with the hopes it would save her looks and career but unfortunately it just made them worse. She died on January 19 2000 in her home in Florida.
So how are Hedy Lamarr and I connected? We are both white for one. Even now that racism is frowned upon in many continents, it still exists. If Hedy was black, she most likely wouldn’t have had as much success as she did mainly because when she was alive, white and black people didn’t have equal rights. If I was black I would have it much easier than if Hedy was black, mainly because of the society we have now, but it still might be harder for me. We are both female as well. I really wanted to do a female eminent person because I know what it is like to be female and I would have more connections with them, which is true. Just like racism, sexism still exists. But for Hedy being an actress there wouldn’t be too much discrimination because in movies there are many female roles to play. But for many people at the time they must have been really confused about how she was a co-inventor. There were many more male inventors at the time so it was very unusual for a female to co-invent something. I live in a world where it is easier to become a scientist as a female, and it is encouraged, but it is still not usual for a woman to become a scientist. Lastly we both live/lived in 1st world countries. We are both very lucky to live in a 1st world country. Hedy may have not gotten all of the acting opportunities that she had if she had lived in a 2nd or 3rd world country.
I have never really done a really large project like this, so I am extremely excited to work on this one. I am also really nervous though because I do not have very strong public speaking skills. With this project I hope to develop them and become more confident with speaking in front of others. It also scares me that there are only 38 more days left to work on this project!!!