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Hedy Lamarr: Five facts about the actress behind today's Google Doodle

She was the first woman to act out an orgasm in a non-pornographic film

Olivia Blair
Monday 09 November 2015 10:45 GMT
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Hedy Lamarr was born in Austria, but later lived in the USA
Hedy Lamarr was born in Austria, but later lived in the USA (REX features)

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the life of Hedy Lamarr, on what would be her 101st birthday.

Although some may recognise Lamarr, particularly because she was once named ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’, little is known of her life outside of her film career.

Here’s five things you didn’t know about Lamarr:

1. Her real name is Hedwig. She was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria in 1914. She was of Jewish descent and the daughter of a banker and pianist. She died in 2000, aged 85.

2. One of her first acting roles was in the Czech film Ecstasy in 1933. Controversial for its time, Lamarr is also credited as acting the first female orgasm to be shown in a non-pornographic film. The movie was banned in many places, including many areas of the USA.

3. Lamarr changed her name after fleeing her husband Friedrich Mandl – a rich military magnate, and moved to America. Reportedly Mandl was particularly controlling; the New York Times report he purchased a vast amount of the copies of Ecstasy in a bid that nobody would see “the look on her [Lamarr’s] face during the sex scenes.”

4. She became concerned about the Nazis and their practice of jamming the radios of the Allies in World War Two. Using her interest in Science she and composer George Antheil, invented a “secret communications” device which would use ‘frequency hopping’, meaning frequencies would be controlled making the radio harder to intercept. The US navy began using the device in the 1960s.

5. The wireless communications she devised during the Second World War are still used today in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Biographer Richard Rhodes told CBS: “Today, frequency hopping is used with the wireless phones that we have in our homes, GPS and most military communication systems.”

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