Hedy Lamarr exhibition opens in Vienna

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VIENNA, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Jewish Museum Vienna opened the exhibition entitled "Lady Bluetooth. Hedy Lamarr" at its Judenplatz location on Wednesday.

Hedy Lamarr, born as Hedwig Kiesler in Vienna in 1914, became a famous Hollywood actress. She died in Florida in the U.S. in 2000. Lamarr lived a colorful life as an actress, a Hollywood legend and an inventor. One of her inventions laid the groundwork for mobile telephony, according to the Jewish Museum.

Lamarr was the daughter of a bank director and concert pianist. She left Europe in 1937 and became an actress after ending a tempestuous marriage with Fritz Mandl, a rumored weapons dealer. At the height of her career, Lamarr was deemed the "most beautiful woman in the world," but later she became a recluse who hardly left her home to avoid showing her advancing age.

During the exhibition's opening ceremony on Tuesday evening, Danielle Spera, director of Jewish Museum Vienna, explained that Lamarr described herself as "simply a complicated person." This opinion was shared by Lamarr's son, Anthony Loder, who recalled that "she could be both a whip and a rose." Yet, true happiness eluded her despite her fame, said Loder. "Being Hedy Lamarr was very stressful for her."

According to Jewish Museum Vienna, life in the Hollywood limelight was only one part of the Hedy Lamarr story. A lesser-known aspect is her role as a mobile communications pioneer. Together with composer George Antheil, Lamarr developed the "frequency hopping spread spectrum" (FHSS) technology in the 1940s, which is considered the basis for Bluetooth technology used today.

In Lamarr's time, this technology was used by torpedo guidance systems to spread their control signals over a number of frequencies, making it difficult to jam them. The actress was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation Award in 1998 for her contribution to FHSS development, Spera explained.

The Jewish Museum dedicated two exhibition rooms to Lamarr's life, including film posters, photographs, original letters and film excerpts. Other items include personal possessions, such as a little toy chest and a typical Austrian hat. The ceilings of the rooms are decorated with a punch card pattern meant to illustrate changing radio frequencies.

Another part of the exhibition was realized in cooperation with Film Archive Austria, which will be showing Hedy Lamarr's films between Dec. 7 and Jan. 7, 2020, in a retrospective entitled "Hedy Lamarr -- Her Films." Enditem

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