Hedwig Eva Kiesler was born in 1914 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. She was the daughter of a banker Gertrud (Lichtwitz) and Emil Kiesler. A school dropout Hedy attended acting classes at the theatre director Max Reinhardt in Berlin. She began her career as actress in 1930 in Czech and German films.
Her role in the controversial (for the time) movie Ecstasy, Extase, L’Extase, Ekstase or Symphonie der Liebe (1933) in which she appeared nude and even simulating orgasm caused the scandal and sensation throughout the world. No wonder, the film was even banned by the US government at the time. By the way, measured by the modern standards, the film was so benign it wouldn't be PG rated at all. Especially not in most of the EU countries.
Hedy soon married Fritz Mandl, a wealthy ammunition dealer and a prominent half-Jewish Austrofascist with close ties to Nazis. He attempted to buy all the prints of his wife's scandalous movie, but in vain. Eventually, the Nazis confiscated his factory, claiming that he owed them taxes. His wife, Hedy, fled to England.
She married five more times and had three children.
Hedy: I must quit marrying men who feel inferior to me. Somewhere there must be a man who could be my husband and not feel inferior. I need a superior inferior man.
Note the transparent veil "covering" Hedy in the movie poster (below). There wasn't one in the movie.
Oberon: One doesn't have to be genius to know that.
Hedy: If you use your imagination, you can look at any actress and see her nude... I hope to make you use your imagination.
Posters of her movies in which her looks provoked gasps in the audience.
Hedy:Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.
Some of Hedy's movies are free to download and watch at low res at You Tube:
It wasn't used in WWII like Lamarr intended, but the US Navy used it only 17 years later, when the patent was expired. Lamarr's invention was the basis for "spread-spectrum communication technologies like CDMA". Fact is that without Hedy we might not have had cell phones.
In the late 90's the illustration featuring Hedy's portrait had appeared on the CorelDraw package as an example of what their vector drawing could do. Lamarr's suit against Corel was settled out of court; Corel received the rights to use her image for five years.
Hedy Lamarr died alone and in her sleep in Altamonte Springs, Florida, in January 2000 at the age of 86.
So, what was my inspiration in all that? When I saw the beautiful illustration on CorelDraw's package. At the first moment, I thought it was featuring Vivien Leigh. Hedy and Vivien look very much alike in some photographs. I had investigated a bit through the rudimentary www available at the time and found out I was wrong. However, I did see some of Lamarr's movies before. I really had enjoyed Samson and Delilah movie as a kid, but watching it later, I thought this swords and sandals film just didn't manage to be persuasive enough in the modern times.