Talk: Hedy Lamarr

Event details

  • February 18, 2020
  • 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
  • Hughes Library, 25 Heritage Green Pl. Greenville, 29601
  • 864-244-1499

 View Map  Cost: Free

Talk: Hedy Lamarr


Kevin Treu, PhD is Chair of the Computer Science Department at Furman University and has been on the Furman for 28 years. He specializes in Data Mining and Analytics, Internet and Web technologies, Life of Alan Turing and Social Media. He is also a vocal advocate for women pursuing careers in Computer Science.

Outside of his Computer Science professorial life, Kevin is a longtime Upstate actor, director and playwright. He has directed numerous productions for Centre Stage, Greer Children’s Theatre, Proud Mary Theatre, Mill Town Players, and the Spartanburg Little Theatre.

Kevin is also the head coach for the Devenger Dolphins swim team. Perhaps along with the glamor of Hollywood and Hedy Lamarr’s discovery of frequency hopping, the dolphin’s natural sonar system will come into play. You never know what the Chautauqua audience will want to discuss. It’s Hollywood, History and hard science just for your asking.

This event is a discussion NOT an in-character performance. In the Chautauqua History Comes Alive Festival June 12 – 2, Hedy Lamarr will be performed by Judith Kaalora from Boston, MA.

Who would have believed that “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World,” Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr, was a genuine celling crasher scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, and made your cell phone, GPS, and Wi-Fi possible? But there’s no law that says an inventor can’t be beautiful.

She was the scintillating adolescent in Ekstase; the cunning wife who wrenched herself free from a dead marriage to a Nazi munitions mogul, the beautiful refugee who fled the Nazis to become a Hollywood movie siren, the Mark Zuckerburg-esque twenty-something brash enough to believe her inventions would upend the world. Perhaps the most important thing Hedy Lamarr reinvented was herself.

For all the girls, women, and anyone ever told they cannot do math, understand science, or change the universe, Hedy Lamarr will inspire you to continue your pursuit to reinvent your world.

1914 (November 9) – Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria.

1930 (age 16) – Submits a forged absence request form to her all-girls finishing school in Switzerland and takes a job as a script girl at Sacha Film in Vienna. Drops out of school days later to begin her film career.

1932 (age 17) – Films Ekstase (Ecstasy), a Czechoslovakian art film that brought her fame and notoriety for appearing nude on-screen.

1933 (age 19) – Marries the third richest man in Austria, an arms and munitions dealer named Fritz Mandl; President of Hirtenberger-Patronen Frabrik, which supplied weapons to Hitler and Mussolini. She hosted Mussolini, the NAZIS, and members of the Austrian Home Guard at their palatial townhouse Schloss Schwarzenau.

1937 – Divorced Fritz Mandl and escaped Austria fearing the outbreak of World War II. She negotiated a contract with MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer while onboard the French ship Normandie and arrived in America as “Hedy Lamarr.”

1938 – “Algiers,” Hedy’s first American motion picture debuts, after Louis B. Mayer agrees to loan her out to the United Artists Agency. Hedy’s fate as a Hollywood Starlet is secured.

1941- Collaborates with musical composer George Antheil to create a “Secret Communication System.” This invention, based on Hedy’s concept of “frequency hopping” becomes the basis of all secure wireless communication, providing the foundation for Spread Spectrum Technology.

1942 (August 11) – United States Inventors Council, a branch of the United States NAVY, awards Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil Patent # 2,292,387 for their Secret Communication System.

1962 – Three years after the expiration of Hedy and George’s patent, their Secret Communication System was outfitted onto United States Naval Vessels and was implemented into active service during the Cuban Missile Crisis, permitting every U.S. Naval Warship blockading Cuba to communicate securely and wirelessly with one other. George Antheil had passed away shortly after the expiration of their patent in 1959. Neither Hedy nor George received any monetary compensation for their invention.

1992 – awarded a Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation recognizing her technological contributions.

2000 (January 19) – Dies peacefully at her home outside Orlando, FL.

There has to be a firmness and a respect in what you do and then you do not care what other people think.

There are lots of detours in life. Nothing is ever certain and nothing is ever sure.

My face has been my misfortune. It is a mask that I cannot remove.

Any girl can be glamourous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.

Money is meant to be enjoyed. Most people save all their lives only to leave their money to somebody else.

I think predictable people sit in chairs. Boring people. And I can excuse everything but boredom. Boring people don’t have to stay that way.

I think all creative people want to do the unexpected.

Jack Kennedy always said to me: ‘Hedy, get involved. That’s the secret of life. Try everything. Join everything. Meet everybody.

Whenever I reach a certain advanced intimacy with a man (and I don’t mean sex), I marry him. I have reached this advanced intimacy with all of my husbands. All six of them. And they have all married me for different reasons.

I have not been too wise. Health I have taken for granted. Love I have demanded, perhaps too much and too often. As for money, I have only realized it’s true worth when I didn’t have it.

I’m a sworn enemy of convention. I despise the conventional in anything, even in the arts.

I’m not ashamed to say that no man I ever met was my Father’s equal and I have never loved any other man as much.

To be a star is to own the world and all the people in it. After a taste of stardom, everything else is poverty.

* Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes (2011) Hedy Lamarr presenter Judith Kalaaora’s favorite.

* The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict (2019) A well written historical novel that shines a literary spotlight on a captivating story.

* Beautiful, the Life of Hedy Lamarr by Stephen Michael Shearer (2010)

* Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in Film by Ruth Barton (2010) Ten years after Hedy’s death (2000) her patent for frequency hoping was re-discovered and these two biographies appeared. Irish film scholar Ruth Barton is an Irish film scholar and Stephen Michael Shearer, the author of “Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life.”

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, a movie documentary directed by Alexandra Dean (2017)

(Starred items are available through the Greenville County Library System)

GREENVILLE LIBRARY