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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Historical Tidbit: Hedy Lamarr During WWII

Hey Everyone! Happy President's Day!

Before I get to today's historical tidbit, I have a favor to ask. I don't have an exact date, yet, but in the next 2-3 weeks I'm going to be doing a cover reveal for The Botanist, my crime fiction novel which will be out courtesy of Jolly Fish Press early next year. (Press Release HERE.)

I saw the cover for the first time on Friday, and it's awesome! Very haunting!

If anyone's interested in helping me do the cover reveal, I'd really appreciate it! Email me at lkhillbooks@gmail.com and I'll send you the info and exact date. I'd appreciate all the help I can get.

Did you know...

That Hedy Lamarr was a great contributor to the war effort during World War II? 

Hedy Lamarr was a famous actress in old Hollywood. She appeared onscreen with the likes of Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Judy Garland, and is best known for her role opposite Victor Mature as Delilah in Cecil B. Demille's Samson and Delilah

What most people don't know about her is that she was the co-inventor of what, at the time, was cutting edge technology. During the war, radio-controlled missiles were important to the naval campaign, but could easily be interrupted by jamming the frequency. 

Working with a composer, George Antheil, Lamarr proposed a frequency-hopping, spread spectrum approach. They would use 88 frequencies (because there are 88 keys on the piano) and have the military hop frequencies because monitoring, much less jamming, 88 frequencies would be beyond enemy capabilities at the time. 

After patenting it, this technology was given to the U.S. military, free of charge, to help with the war effort. Unfortunately, due to various objections to the novel technology, it wasn't widely used during the war. It was adopted and used to great effect twenty years later, however, in 1962. 

Publicity Photo, 1930s (Source)
In 1997, Lamarr was given a belated award for her contributions to the war effort. 

Now, the only thing I really know Lamarr from is Samson and Delilah--I sort of grew up watching old, Charleton-Heston-era biblical films--but I'd never heard this about her. She had plenty of problems and interesting situations in her life--don't we all?--but I always find it nice to hear about un-sung heroes. This is especially impressive because it was so difficult for women to do things of major importance during the war. 

Did you know this about Hedy Lamarr? Do you know of any other little-known heroes of the war?

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea she was so influential to the war effort. Go Hedy!