• lady_bluetooth_exhibition_hedy_lamarr_vienna
  • lady_bluetooth_exhibition_hedy_lamarr_vienna
  • lady_bluetooth_exhibition_hedy_lamarr_vienna
  • lady_bluetooth_exhibition_hedy_lamarr_vienna
Hedy Lamarr, USA 1939 © Anthony Loder Archive.
Hedy Lamarr - Exhibition at the Jewish Museum Vienna. © Wulz CC.
Hedy Lamarr in I take this Woman. Photo: Laszlo Willinger, MGM 1940 © Jewish Museum Vienna.
Advertising campaign for Maybelline 1940 © Anthony Loder Archive.


    22 September 2020


    By Fiona Obrowsky @fionaobrowsky

    Walking into the premises, you fully immerse yourself in the world of Hedy Lamarr, a world full of ups and downs, success and failure. You feel what she was going through as if you were an acquaintance and, by looking at old polaroids and documents, you get a feeling of nostalgia.

    The exhibition embraces the life story of the Hollywood diva, actress, and inventor Hedy Lamarr. It is situated in in the Jewish Museum Vienna, a place raising awareness of Jewish history, religion, and culture. It was founded in 1895 and was the first Jewish museum in the world. Andrea Winklbauer curated this exhibit. The exhibition is split up into three different rooms to give the visitor a better understanding of the movie-like life of Hedy Lamarr. Her story is told through family pictures, movie posters, and even clothing items. If you want to see her acting, there are several movies playing on small screens to watch.

    Over the course of 28 years, Hedy Lamarr starred in 30 movies produced in Austria, Czech, Germany, and Hollywood. She was known for her beauty and referred to be “the most beautiful woman in the world” several times. In addition, she developed a technology that is known to be a precursor to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

    Hedy Lamarr was born into a wealthy family in 1914 in Vienna, Austria as Hedwig Kiesler. She grew up in Vienna and landed her first role at the age of 16 in the movie “Geld auf der Strasse” (Money on the Street). Shortly after her first acting experience, she left school to pursue her dream of becoming a professional actress and moved to Berlin. She started working for the theater and movie industry and was praised as a rising young actress by various magazines. The young woman was discovered by the well-known Austrian director and producer Max Reinhardt, who supported Hedy in the beginning of her career and was the first person to call her “the most beautiful woman in the world”.

    Her first leading role, which also caused her first scandal, was Eve in the Czechoslovakian production “Ecstasy.” The brief nude scene and a staged orgasm sparked uproar in the general public, but also brought her worldwide renown. After marrying her first husband, Fritz Mandl, a wealthy ammunition manufacturer, who was 13 years older than the 19-year-old Hedy, the actress changed her name to Hedy Mandler. She was very prominent in Austria’s social life and appeared at her husband’s side at society events, such as the Vienna Opera Ball. After four years of marriage filled with jealousy of Fritz Mandl, she fled to Hollywood. On her way, she was discovered by the Hollywood producer Louis B. Mayer, looking for European talents, who immediately offered her a contract because of her beauty. The contract, which she accepted, required Hedy to change her Austrian name Hedy Mandl-Kiesler to Hedy Lamarr. Her outstanding beauty granted her international success and in her first Hollywood production “Algiers,” she was portrayed as the most beautiful woman in the world.

    Not only did her beauty and movies give journalists more than enough material, but also her turbulent private life. Over the course of her life, Hedy Lamarr was married six times and had three children, one of which was adopted. The actress lived in various modern homes in Bel Air and Beverly Hills. When asked about her marriages in interviews, she always stated, “I must quit marrying men who feel inferior to me”.

    Hedy Lamarr wasn’t just known for her looks, but also for her brains. Alongside the composer George Antheil, she aimed to develop a technology to help the US fight the Nazis. The duo invented a secret communications system for torpedoes, which is an early version of frequency-hopping spectrum. They received a patent, but due to the complexity of the system, the technology was never put to use and was eventually forgotten. In 1997, Hedy was rediscovered as an inventor and received several prizes and awards for her groundbreaking discovery. Today, it is known that her invention was an early pioneer in wireless technology, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

    In her late years, she lived a reclusive existence after gaining attention from magazines because of her cosmetics procedures. She was also caught shoplifting twice, which made her withdraw from the public eye even more. Hedy Lamarr lived a quiet life in Florida and New York. She died alone at her home in Florida in 2000.

    The exhibition is still on view until November 8, 2020




    Images, courtesy of Jewish Museum Vienna.

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