Hedy Lamarr is being showered with honors for advancements in military communications based on her anti-jamming patent from the '40s.
The following article by Peter Y. Hong is reprinted with permission from the Los Angeles Times, copyright 1998. (It originally appeared in the newspaper's August 30, 1997 issue.) The Times was not able to provide us with the photograph of Ms. Lamarr that it used, so I have substituted the cover of LIFE magazine from June 1, 1942 both for those of you who are too young to remember her and those of us who fondly do.
This article was brought to my attention by my good friend and colleague Chuck Swift of C.W. Swift and Associates. Chuck also provided the issue of LIFE, and I am grateful for his help. Everyone in our office found the story to be fascinating, I hope you will too.
Harlan Howe, Jr.
Hedy Lamarr, the star of such films as "The Heavenly Body" and "Dishonored Lady," secured her place in history more than 60 years ago as the first woman to romp naked across the screen in a feature film.
Now 82, she is again raising eyebrows for revolutionary work of a very different sort: her little-known contributions to technology that are being used today in military communications.
In 1940, Lamarr, who had learned about weaponry through her marriage to an arms manufacturer, joined with the avant-garde composer George Antheil to invent an anti-jamming device for radio-controlled torpedoes.
The Navy ignored the advice. But years later, after the patent expired, the Lamarr-Antheil idea was independently, advanced by other scientists and helped form the basis for the anti-jamming technology now used in the U.S. military's $25-billion Milstar defense communications satellite system.
Lamarr's role in "frequency hopping," overlooked for decades, is now as hot with technology enthusiasts as pinups of Lamarr were with World War II servicemen.
Schematic drawings of her patent appear on Internet Web sites. The actress, who never won an Oscar, is being showered with awards from inventors groups. Her most recent tribute will be accepted by her son Sunday at the Invention Convention in Pasadena.
Lamarr, who lives outside Orlando, Fla., is reluctant to speak to reporters, according to her son, Anthony Loder, who declined to forward a request for an interview.
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