Hedy Lamar

QUESTION:  The famous 20th-century film actress Hedy Lamarr was an inventor as well, best known for her work in Spread Spectrum Technology.  She patented a frequency hopping device in 1942 with the assistance of which composer?
A)  John Philip Sousa
B)  Samuel Barber
C)  George Antheil
D)  George Gershwin
ANSWER BELOW

Hailed as "The World's Most Beautiful Woman " at the time of her introduction into American cinema, Hedy Lamarr had been an actress in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) since she was an eighteen-year old in 1933.  She married a successful munitions businessman, who never considered the possibility that his young wife might actually be intelligent.  He displayed her like a prized trophy to his comrades as they developed arms for Germany, little realizing she absorbed everything he and his compatriots said, developing ideas of her own.  According to Lamarr, her escape from her domineering husband involved a dramatic night trains and a few ocean liners, which she took to Hollywood.  The roles came quickly, and she starred in films including 1942's Tortilla Flats, Dishonored Lady in 1947, and sixteen other films in the '40's alone.  

One thing Lamarr did not do during this time, the height of her celebrity fame, was go to parties.  Instead, she tinkered and invented.  Her most notable achievement was the Spread Spectrum Technology mentioned in the question, which introduced to the world the idea of frequency hopping.  Using piano player paper rolls as her inspiration, she came up with an effective way to block enemies from intercepting allied messages.  Was it too sophisticated for the American military?  Did they not understand its significance?  Or maybe they could not believe that a beautiful actress was behind it.  For whatever reason, Lamarr's invention was completely overlooked during the war, and its value was not realized until the patent expired, at which point it was embraced and incorporated in what is now known as wifi and Bluetooth technologies.  Lamarr did not make a dime off of it.  Worse than that, she was not even acknowledged as an inventor of any skill until close to her death in 2000.  

So we celebrate Lamarr at the American Treasure Tour for her beauty, her intelligence, and her usage of automatic music technology to help create the modern digital world.  Yay, Hedy!!!!  (And sadly, during her lifetime, beauty did come first for her.)