Hedy Lamarr - February 14, 2014

The next time you visit the American Treasure Tour, the team of writers behind the blog encourages you to take a quick glance to your left as you enter the Music Room.  Semi-hidden behind one of the nickelodeons on the wall is a headshot of an attractive brunette with an almost melancholy expression.  She has long eyelashes, wears pearls, and has no identifier as to who she is.  You will be 'in the know' and can impress your friends when you make comment on this photograph of Hedy Lamarr.

Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914 Vienna, Austria-Hungary to Jewish parents, the beautiful young woman nicknamed Hedy began her movie career as a teenager.  She was eighteen years old when she starred in the Czech film Ecstasy - a highly-controversial film in its day because of both what she showed and didn't show on screen.  Ms. Kiesler became commonly referred to as "The Ecstasy Girl," before she moved to Los Angeles and received the stage name Lamarr by her agent, where she continued making movies through the 1950s.  She was much more than a beautiful actress, though.  She was also an inventor.  During World War II, she was granted a patent for frequency-hopping technology that used common player piano technology to block enemies from blocking the signals of radio-controlled devices, such as torpedoes.  She wanted to continue her experiments, but the exclusively male National Inventor's Council recommended that she focus on entertaining the troops and selling War Bonds instead.  Unfortunately, she followed their advice.  Her technology created the foundation from which modern Bluetooth technology and Wifi has since developed, for which she was honored three years before her death in 2000. 


Hedy Lamarr sued a film director with an invasion of privacy lawsuit for the unauthorized use of her name in which movie?

a)  Argo 

b)  The French Connection

c)  Hedwig and the Angry Inch

d)  Blazing Saddles

e)  Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Answer Below.


Something bad happened on this day in 1779.  And it happened somewhere that no one at the time could have ever anticipated would one day become the 50th state of the United States.  We are referring, of course, to Hawaii - known as the Sandwich Islands at the time and 'discovered' by Englishman Captain James Cook during his exploration of the Pacific Ocean.  Cook had already visited the islands once and made friends with the natives.  But on this day in 1779, when he brought his ship to shore on the Kona coast of the Big Island unannounced, timing was not in his favor.  He interrupted a native ceremony and received a hostile welcome that ended in his murder and the deaths of a few members of his crew.  Everyone else left pretty quickly to save their own hides.

The 33rd State to enter the union did so on this date in 1859.  Oregon became a destination for Americans who migrated west on the Oregon Trail during the 1840s.  By the time it achieved statehood status, people went there to escape the tensions of the east, mostly over slavery.  It entered the union as a free state with a "whites only" clause in its original state Constitution, and supported Lincoln in the elections of 1860 and 1864. Fortunately, Oregonian politics have changed since then, and this beautiful Northwestern state welcomes all.  


Born on Valentine's Day in 1859, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. was destined to invent one of the most important attractions to dominate the skyline of any carnival, circus or, initially, World's Fair.  In fact, the first Ferris Wheel was presented to the world in 1893 at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  The original Ferris Wheel stood until 1906 before being demolished.  It made almost $750,000 in profits for the exhibition management, and Ferris spent the remainder of his short life in litigation, demanding his equal share of the cut.  He died of typhoid fever at the age of 37.

Another Valentine's Day birthday is that of James Riddle Hoffa, but please call him Jimmy.  Jimmy Hoffa was born in 1913, and came to be a powerful and somewhat controversial labor union leader, with connections to organized crime.  He disappeared mysteriously during the summer of 1975.  Speculations as to what happen to him continue to this day, although it seems likely that his life ended violently after he was last seen at a restaurant in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.


My mother always called me an ugly weed, so I never was aware of anything until I was older. Plain girls should have someone telling them they are beautiful.  Sometimes this works miracles. - Hedy Lamarr

Answer:  d)  Blazing Saddles.  In Mel Brooks' controversial comedy, Harvey Corman plays a corrupt politician named Hedley Lamarr.  The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.