Hedy Lamarr was born in Vienna on November 9th 1913, under the name Hedwig Eva Mari Kieser. Though a celebrated beauty, Lamarr claimed no knowledge of her looks as a girl stating, “My mother always called me an ugly weed, so I never was aware of anything until I was older. Plain girls should have someone telling them they are beautiful, sometimes this works miracles.” Lamarr was famous for her thinly arched brows, full lips and dark hair, which she always wore in a centre part. She gained attention from the film industry after starring in Gustav Machaty’s provocative motion picture ‘Ecstasy'(1933), which featured highly sexual scenes and nude shots of the actress.
She met Louis B. Mayer in London, who is credited with changing the star’s name, choosing Lamarr in homage to silent film star Barbara La Marr.
Known for her startling beauty and mysterious looks, Lamarr was cast as exotic, seductive and glamorous types, in film such as ‘Boom Town’ (1940), ‘Comrade X’ (1940), and ‘White Cargo’ (1942).
Her role as Tondelayo in ‘White Cargo’ saw the actress dressed in bandeau tops and sarongs, accessorized with a selection of beaded tribal-inspired jewelry. She starred alongside fellow leading ladies Judy Garland and Lana Turner in the 1941 musical extravaganza ‘Ziegfeld Girl’, a fantastical picture filled with large decorated sets and dazzling showgirl costumes, made in homage to the chorus girls of the Ziegfeld Follies. A standout musical number features the actress in a long sleeved, star-spangled evening gown, with a large constellation stemming from a headdress.
She left MGM in 1945, and created a box-office hit alongside Victor Mature in ‘Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah’ (1949). ‘Edith Head’ created a selection of matching crop tops and draped maxi skirts, in metallic silver, ocean blue with embellishments and a striking creation covered in peacock feathers. The role saw Lamarr in an excess of costume jewelry, with statement cuffs, oversized cocktail rings and large pendants featuring matching stones. For the role she wore a selection of hair jewelry, a statement that the star favoured, as it drew attention to her face. “I’d rather wear jewels in my hair than anywhere else,” Lamarr remarked, “The face should have the advantage of this brilliance.”
On top of her acting pursuits, Hedy Lamarr was a woman of science. She partnered with George Antheil to create frequency hopping, an idea which now serves as the basis for Bluetooth and WiFi communications today.