“My face has been my misfortune…a mask I cannot remove. I must live with it. I curse it.” – Hedy Lamarr
She was voted “the most beautiful woman in the world”. A title she loathed and could never fully shake off.
The period of film making known as Hollywood’s “Golden Age” has been given that illustrious title mainly because of the generally held belief no other time displayed such consistently high levels of glamorous beauty and suave handsomeness.
With such striking actresses as Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Jean Harlowe, and Marlene Dietrich making their motion pictured mark at this time, it’s no wonder the silver screen turned to Gold during the 1930’s and 40’s.
But none was more golden during this most glamorous time than an Austrian actress named Hedy Lamarr.
With her raven flowing hair, perpetually pouted lips, alabaster China Doll skin, and exceptionally large, electrically transluscent blue eyes, no one’s beauty could compare to that of the exotic actress born beneath the sign which rules over both Sexuality and Desire, Scorpio.
Scorpios enjoy having an aura of mystery hovering around them and the most beautiful woman in the world was no exception to this Scorpionic rule since it has only recently become widely known the most desired woman from Hollywood’s Golden Age also possessed one of the most inventive minds of her generation as well.
“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” – Hedy Lamarr
The actress’ star didn’t originally rise in Tinsel Town. Hedy’s acting career began from her point of origin, in old World Vienna.
Most people born beneath the sign of the Scorpion bear a natural aura of sexuality. This inherent trait was what immediately drew the attention of producers when a young Scorpio named Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler caused quite the uproar upon making her film debut in the 1933 Czech film, “Ecstasy”. Not only did the naturally sexy 18 year old do a topless scene, Hedwig made movie audiences reach for their smelling salts when the young actress’ face was filmed up close while simulating an orgasm before the rolling camera.
It was after filming completed for “Ecstasy” yet before its release in theaters that Hedwig met and soon thereafter married the third wealthiest man in Austria at the time, an Aquarian named Friedrich Mandl.
The inheritor of his father’s arms and munitions business, Mandl was a self-serving opportunist with a ruthless desire to control everything and everyone around him. Despite being half Jewish, Mandl was a self-proclaimed “AustroFascist”, whose two biggest customers were the heads of Italy’s Fascist Party, Benito Mussolini, and of Nazi Germany’s Fascists, Adolf Hitler.
A marriage between two people born beneath Fixed signs is never easy and always challenging. When the matrimonial union between the Fixed involves unevolved behavior, one Fixed signed partner will direct most of their waking time and energies over dominating the other.
Not only did Mandl take Hedwig everywhere with him so as not to let his bride ever out of his all controlling sight, the business mogul was so possessive of his beautiful wife that upon the uproarious release of her racy film, “Ecstasy”, the Aquarian actually scoured the country in a willful attempt to purchase every possible copy of the film. The actual number of copies purchased isn’t known, it was simply Mandl’s intent to destroy them. (Incidentally, Mussolini reportedly kept his copy).
Those born beneath the middle of the Water signs love nothing better than to analyze other people’s power, all while shrouded in a cloak of mystery in the distant background. In order to serve his gainful needs, Mandl would throw lavish dinner parties at his home which included private meetings with various military and government leaders over munitions and the latest technological advancements of war weapons.
Hedwig was expected to be the trophy wife at these dinner parties, decked out in her evening gown and jewels, and ordered never to utter a single word.
Throughout the mid and late 1930’s, Hedwig would be present at these frightfully expensive dinner parties and secretive munitions meetings as hostess. True to her Fixed sign husband’s expectations, she never uttered a word while hosting.
But the Scorpio did absorb every noteworthy detail that was said in her presence, most especially those provided by Hitler and Mussolini who were house guests, as well as any which spoke of the Axis Powers’ scientific and technological advancements while War grew ever imminent.
As a Jew, Hedy also clearly saw the writing on the wall whereas her half Jewish husband’s obsessive greed for power and control made him blind as to what was soon to surround them.
Just before one of her husband’s most lavish dinner parties in 1937, Hedwig took control of her destiny and went into action. She asked Mandl if he wouldn’t mind her wearing all of her jewelry at the evening’s festivities as well as hired a maid who physically resembled her a few days prior to the party explaining that extra help was needed.
As the guests of honor began to arrive that night, Hedwig privately called the new maid to her chambers and kindly offered the girl a cup of strong tea, based on the observation of how tired she seemed to look. When the domestic servant passed out from the drugged drink, Hedwig removed her maid’s uniform and donned it herself.
The cunning Scorpio managed to escape her gilded cage but her Fixed signed control freak of a husband was fast on her tracks. While sprinting in the darkness of night, Hedwig came upon a brothel and immediately proceeded to slip inside. Upon being informed that Mandl was breaking into every room and searching for her, the Scorpio made the most of every resource available to ensure her escape.
When a man stuck his head in apologizing for mistakenly entering the room that Hedwig was in, little did he know he’d be having unsolicited sex almost immediately afterwards with the hottest babe he’d ever seen wearing a maid’s outfit. All while some crazy lunatic was yelling and screaming just beyond the bedroom’s door.
Less than 18 months would pass before Friedrich Mandl would be doing his own share of fleeing into the dark of night. Upon Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938 instead of being welcomed into the Fascist fold, Mandl the half Jew barely escaped with his life after the Nazis took possession of his home, munitions factory, properties, and material assets.
Amazingly, the all controlling Aquarian managed to get out of Europe at the last possible moment and eventually re-established himself in South America. During and after the War, Friedrich Mandl became right hand man to another Air sign that was quite sympathetic to the Fascist cause, the Libran Argentinian military leader, Juan Peron.
Now, just because our Scorpionic heroine has lost the Aquarian she had been marryin’ doesn’t mean our story ends here.
Aquarius is the sign of high intellect that’s ruled by the planet which oversees both human genius, but also the Future and Technology as well – Uranus.
When put in Uranian formulaic terms,
Human Genius + Futurism + Technology = Invention
At the time of Hedy Lamarr’s birth on November 9th, 1914 two key planets were positioned in the sign of intellectual genius, Aquarius: Jupiter, the planet of foresight and blessings, and Aquarius’ ruler, the planet which oversees all things scientific and technological, Uranus. Both planets were in the sign of Aquarius and conjunct in the House naturally ruled by Scorpio, known as the 8th House of Transformative Change when Hedwig was born.
Said another way, the most beautiful woman in the world was born with an astrological proclivity to be an inventor.
And invent she did.
“Hope and curiosity about the future seemed better than guarantees. That’s the way I was. The unknown was always so attractive to me… and still is.” – Hedy Lamarr
Following Hedwig’s escape from her Fixed sign nightmare of a husband, the actress ran across the Hollywood movie mogul Louis B. Mayer at a party in London. The head of MGM Studios immediately offered her a contract on the condition that the actress learn English and that her first name of Hedwig become “Hedy” and her last name Kiesler become “Lamarr”.
Hedy Lamarr would go on to appear in numerous Hollywood films. Her personal favorite was by far her biggest success, and no wonder, given the role she played couldn’t have fit a breathtaking beauty born beneath the femme fatale sign of Scorpio any better – that of the Biblical hussey who loved power playing with men’s hair, Delilah, in Cecil B. De Mille’s 1949 technicolor extravaganza, “Sampson and Delilah”.
“I can excuse everything but boredom. Boring people don’t have to stay that way.” –
Despite her promising film career Hedy found the shallowness of Hollywood culture incredibly boring. Described with words befitting the planet of genius, the actress would act by day and filled with, as her biographer Richard Rhodes describes, “the sheer inventiveness of invention.”, Hedy Lamarr would invent at night.
The actress set aside space within her Hollywood home designed as her “invention room”, complete with a drafting table and an entire wall filled with engineering manuals and text books. Hedy would spend many a long night in that room, devising and perfecting her inventive ideas.
It wasn’t until a chance meeting at a dull Hollywood party that Hedy’s inventive genius would throttle into full speed. Here, the actress met avante garde composer, George Antheil, whose most recent musical work was a complete disaster but still proved to be quite productive for those with naturally inventive minds. The piece involved sixteen player pianos which Antheil synchronized playing together by automated remote control.
Using her knowledge about radio controlled torpedoes which the Scorpio learned while not uttering a word at her ex-husband’s dinner parties, she and Antheil hypothesized that if pianos could be synchronized to “hop” from one note to another, why couldn’t radio signals hop as well? Realizing they were neighbors, Lamarr and Antheil partnered up after the party and quickly went to work.
Thus, Spread Spectrum Technology was born.
The two geniuses called the nature of their invention “Frequency Hopping”, where radio frequencies were manipulated at irregular intervals between transmission and reception, and on August 10, 1942, the actress and the composer were granted U.S. Patent # 2292387A for their joint efforts.
U.S. Patent # 2292387A presented to the American Patent office by Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil. The inventors names in the lower right hand corner are listed with Hedy’s maiden and married surnames, “Kiesler Markey” so as to avoid using her well known stage name.
At the time, Lamarr and Antheil’s invention was effectively put to use as unbreakable code which prevented classified messages from being intercepted by enemy personnel but over time, the actress and composer’s brain child served as the foundation for the spread spectrum communication technology used in the 21st century, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, along with cell phones currently used in the modern day.
As with most female inventors, Hedy didn’t make a cent from her invention and over 50 years would pass before the Hollywood star would be recognized for her contributions to Science and Technology. In 1997, Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil were bestowed with the scientific world’s equivalent of the Oscar, the EFF or Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award. When presenting the award, EFF Staff Counsel Mike Godwin stated “this tool they developed to defend democracy half a century ago promises to extend democracy in the 21st century.”
Despite her scientific brilliance being overlooked most of her life, (Lamarr is known to have said “It’s about time.” when told of being awarded the EFF) the process of inventing must have endowed the actress with a unique sense of satisfied fulfillment, given Hedy Lamarr was quoted as saying:
“Films have a certain place in a certain time period. Technology is forever.”
*Brad Kronen’s book “Love in the Stars” published by Llewellyn Worldwide, Inc. is available for purchase at your local book seller or online at amazon.com at the link listed below.
Top photo: Iq.intel.com