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This Day in WWII 5 February 1940 - 1945


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BoeingAd-Feb1943.jpgBoeing Ad - February 1943


1940: British and French governments agree to land an expeditionary force in northern Norway without regard for Norway's neutrality in order to aide Finland, although in eventuality was never carried out.


Hedy%20Lamarr1.jpg *Hedy Lamarr


1941: Adolf Hitler writes to Mussolini. In the letter goes is satisfaction for the work of the Italian officers at command operations in North Africa and he offers his help with one division with the condition of the Italian troops not to retreat to Tripoli.


1941: An advanced column of armoured cars from the 7th Armoured Division intercept the Italian retreat about 70 miles south of Benghazi.


1943: Mussolini sacks his son-in-law, Count Ciano from Foreign Ministry and takes control himself.


BoeingAd-Feb1944.jpg Boeing Ad - February 1944


1944: U.S. troops reach the outskirts of Cassino, but are repulsed.


1944: The 'Chindits' begin moving towards Indaw, 100 miles behind the Japanese lines in Burma.


1945: RAF balloon command to be disbanded as the air raid threat lessens. 278 V1's have been claimed by balloons.


Hedy%20Lamarr2.jpg Hedy Lamarr


1945: Red Army troops approach Elbing and Marienburg in East Prussia.


1945: MacArthur orders a containment in the northern Philippines, as the main effort is directed to the capture of Manila.


1945: The Australians land on the Japanese stronghold of New Britain, East of New Guinea.


Hedy%20Lamarr3.jpg Hedy Lamarr


*Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria-Hungary on November 9, 1914, to Jewish parents Gertrud (née Lichtwitz), a pianist and Budapest native who came from the "Jewish haute bourgeoisie", and Lemberg-born Emil Kiesler, a successful bank director. She studied ballet and piano at age 10. When she worked with Max Reinhardt in Berlin, he called her the "most beautiful woman in Europe". Soon the teenage girl played major roles in German movies, alongside stars like Heinz Rühmann and Hans Moser.


In early 1933 she starred in Gustav Machatý's notorious film "Ecstasy", a Czechoslovak film made in Prague, in which she played the love-hungry young wife of an indifferent old husband. Closeups of her face in orgasm, and long shots of her running nude through the woods, gave the film notoriety.


On 10 August 1933 she married Friedrich Mandl, a Vienna-based arms manufacturer 13 years her senior. In her autobiography Ecstasy and Me, Lamarr described Mandl as an extremely controlling man who sometimes tried to keep her shut up in their mansion. The Austrian fascist bought up as many copies of the film as he could possibly find, as he objected to her nudity and "the expression on her face". (Lamarr later claimed the looks of passion were the result of the director poking her in the bottom with a safety pin.)


Hedy%20Lamarr4.jpg Hedy Lamarr


Mandl prevented her from pursuing her acting career, and instead took her to meetings with technicians and business partners. In these meetings, the mathematically-talented Lamarr learned about military technology. Otherwise she had to stay at Castle Schwarzenau. She later related that, even though Mandl was part-Jewish, he was consorting with Nazi industrialists, which infuriated her. In Ecstasy and Me, Lamarr wrote that fascist dictators Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler both attended Mandl's grand parties. She related that in 1937 she disguised herself as one of her maids and fled to Paris, where she obtained a divorce, then moved on to London. According to another version of the episode, she persuaded Mandl to allow her to attend a party wearing all her expensive jewelry, later drugged him with the help of her maid, and made her escape out of the country with the jewelry.


First she went to Paris, then met Louis B. Mayer in London. After he hired her, at his insistence, she changed her name to Hedy Lamarr, choosing the surname in homage to a beautiful film star of the silent era, Barbara La Marr, who had died in 1926 from a drug overdose.


Hedy made her American film debut as "Gaby in Algiers" (1938). This was followed a year later by "Lady of the Tropics" (1939). In 1942 she landed the plum role of Tondelayo in the classic "White Cargo" (1942). After World War II her career began to decline and MGM decided it would be in the interest of all concerned if her contract were not renewed. Unfortunately for Hedy, she turned down the leads in both "Gaslight" (1940) and "Casablanca" (1942), both of which would have cemented her standing in the minds of the American public.


She made 18 films from 1940 to 1949 even though she had two children during that time (in 1945 and 1947). She left MGM in 1945; Lamarr enjoyed her biggest success as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's "Samson and Delilah", the highest-grossing film of 1949, with Victor Mature as the Biblical strongman. However, following her comedic turn opposite Bob Hope in "My Favorite Spy" (1951), her career went into decline. She appeared only sporadically in films after 1950, one of her last roles being that of Joan of Arc in Irwin Allen's critically panned epic "The Story of Mankind" (1957). She was to make only six more films between 1949 and 1957, the last being "The Female Animal" (1958).


Hedy%20Lamarr5.jpg Hedy Lamarr


The publication of her autobiography Ecstasy and Me (1967) took place about a year after accusations of shoplifting, and a year after Andy Warhol's short film "Hedy" (1966), also known as "The Shoplifter". The controversy surrounding the shoplifting charges coincided with an aborted return to the screen in "Picture Mommy Dead" (1966), but she was fired on February 3, 1966, when she didn't show up for the first day of shooting. The role was ultimately filled by Zsa Zsa Gabor.


In the ensuing years, Lamarr retreated from public life, and settled in Florida. She returned to the headlines in 1991 when the 78 year old former actress was again accused of shoplifting, although charges were eventually dropped.


Lamarr became a naturalized citizen of the United States on April 10, 1953.


For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Hedy Lamarr has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Blvd.

Lamarr died in Altamonte Springs, Florida (near Orlando) on January 19, 2000 (aged 86) of natural causes. Her son Anthony Loder took her ashes back to Austria and spread them in the Wienerwald forest, in accordance with her wishes.



Measurements: 33-22-34 (1933 in Ecstasy (1933) ), 33B-23-35 (1940s starlet), 34B-26-37 (later career), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)

Height: 5' 7" (1.70 m)


Lewis J. Boies (4 March 1963 - 21 June 1965) (divorced; separated 15 October 1964)

W. Howard Lee (22 December 1953 - 1960) (divorced)

Teddy Stauffer (12 June 1951 - 1952) (divorced)

John Loder (27 May 1943 - 17 July 1947) (divorced) 2 children

Gene Markey (5 March 1939 - 3 October 1941) (divorced) 1 child

Fritz Mandl (10 August 1933 - 1937) (divorced)

Sued Mel Brooks for mocking her name in his film Blazing Saddles (1974) (they settled out of court)

The mansion used in "The Sound of Music" (1965) belonged to her at the time.


Frequency-hopping Spread-spectrum Invention

Avant garde composer George Antheil, a son of German immigrants and neighbor of Lamarr, had experimented with automated control of musical instruments, including his music for Ballet Mecanique, originally written for Fernand Léger's 1924 abstract film. This score involved multiple player pianos playing simultaneously.

Together, Antheil and Lamarr submitted the idea of a secret communication system in June 1941. On August 11, 1942, U.S. Patent 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and "Hedy Kiesler Markey", Lamarr's married name at the time. This early version of frequency hopping used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam.

The idea was ahead of its time, and not feasible owing to the state of mechanical technology in 1942. It was not implemented in the USA until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba after the patent had expired. Perhaps owing to this lag in development, the patent was little-known until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Lamarr an award for this contribution. In 1998, Ottawa wireless technology developer Wi-LAN, Inc. "acquired a 49 percent claim to the patent from Lamarr for an undisclosed amount of stock" (Eliza Schmidkunz, Inside GNSS); Antheil had died in 1959.

Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as COFDM used in Wi-Fi network connections and CDMA used in some cordless and wireless telephones. Similar patents had been granted to others earlier, such as in Germany in 1935 to Telefunken engineers Paul Kotowski and Kurt Dannehl who also received U.S. Patent 2,158,662 and U.S. Patent 2,211,132 in 1939 and 1940. Blackwell, Martin and Vernam's Secrecy Communication System patent from 1920 (1598673) does seem to lay the communications groundwork for Kiesler and Antheil's patent which employed the techniques in the autonomous control of torpedoes.

Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but she was told that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell War Bonds. She once raised $7,000,000 at just one event.


BoeingAd-Feb1945.jpg Boeing Ad - February 1945

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