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Superstar, inventor, Nazi foe

Superstar, inventor, Nazi foe

Agencies

She was a glamorous Hollywood actress who romanced Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Jimmy Stewart onscreen and was hailed as "the world's most beautiful woman."

But Hedy Lamarr was bored. So in a private life more compelling than some of her movies, she dreamed up ways to fight the Nazis during World War II and earned a patent for an idea that laid the groundwork for such modern technologies as Bluetooth, GPs and Wi-Fi.

Lamarr, on what would have been her 101st birthday, was honored Monday with an animated doodle on Google's search page. The jazzy clip pays homage to her remarkable double career -- actress by day, inventor by night -- and introduces the late star to a new generation at a time when the science and technology fields are struggling to attract women.

Lamarr appeared onscreen regularly throughout the 1940s, most notably opposite Victor Mature in Cecil B. DeMille's "Samson and Delilah." But she grew weary of femme fatale roles that didn't showcase her intelligence.

"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid," she famously said.

So during World War II, Lamarr drew upon her interest in science and military technology -- gained in part through her first marriage to an arms dealer -- to help devise a system to prevent the Nazis from blocking signals from radio-controlled Allied torpedoes. She teamed with composer George Antheil, a neighbor, to create a frequency-hopping system -- based on the 88 keys in pianos -- that would keep enemies from being able to detect the radio messages.

Hom's doodle alternates between scenes of movie-star glamor and Lamarr's sideline as an inventor. The actress looks bored in the back of a limo but perks up when she's tinkering with theories in her lab.

One quote from the actress, found on her estate's website, sounds like it could have been spoken yesterday.

"The world isn't getting any easier. With all these new inventions I believe that people are hurried more and pushed more," she said. "The hurried way is not the right way; you need time for everything -- time to work, time to play, time to rest."

 

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