Hedy Lamarr: Beautiful, Bold, and Brilliant | Teen Ink

Hedy Lamarr: Beautiful, Bold, and Brilliant

November 8, 2019
By nicoleviz BRONZE, Homer Glen, Illinois
nicoleviz BRONZE, Homer Glen, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

In 1942, an important technological breakthrough being used in World War II was a radio signaling device called a “Secret Communications System.”   This system scrambled radio frequencies in order to prevent enemies from decoding messages; it also assisted torpedoes in finding their targets. This technology would become the basis for modern cell phones, WiFi, and Bluetooth.  The woman behind these inventions was also responsible for products such as an improved stoplight and a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated drink, as well as other innovations that she developed in her free time, using only skills that she had taught herself.  It seems obvious that these noteworthy accomplishments would be more than ample cause for fame, but in her time, Hedy Lamarr was known almost exclusively for her work in Hollywood as an actress.

I first learned of the wonder that is Hedy Lamarr through a conversation with my grandfather.  He mentioned to me that he recently watched a documentary about her and told me about everything she achieved while living her double life as a famous Hollywood actress and brilliant inventor.  Intrigued, I did some of my own research later that day. Countless articles and YouTube videos later, I was starstruck by this remarkable woman and her achievements. Considered in her day to be a classic American beauty and the picture of elegance and grace, Hedy Lamarr was expected to be only a pretty face during her lifetime.  But there was so much more going on in her mind of which most people were unaware. She was sometimes regarded as the most beautiful woman in the world, but her beauty was not her only boundless quality — her mind knew no limits. I was inspired.

Throughout my experience in high school, I had no classmates who dedicated themselves to performing arts as well as mathematical and scientific endeavors.  For four years, I balanced arduous musical rehearsals with chaotic math team schedules and other meetings for the myriad clubs to which I belonged. After a long day of invoking all the different aspects of my personality at my different practices, while making the long drive home and wanting nothing more than to give in to exhaustion, I would remember the quiet strength of Hedy Lamarr.  She had been burdened with so many obstacles in her life, ranging from marital problems to drug addiction to constant underestimation by her peers, but she consistently devoted her time to her innovations and academic pursuits, treating them as an outlet from her ordinary life as a famous actress. Her determination allowed her to do anything and everything, and if I am able to imitate even a fraction of that determination in my lifetime, I think I will be able to achieve a lot.

Hedy Lamarr was never interested in material concepts, and she was never satisfied with shallow praise.  She didn’t accept excellence in only one aspect of her life — she cultivated her skills in the arts as well as the sciences.  Her versatility reassured me, because as a naturally curious person, I was genuinely interested in so many fields and therefore unsure of what I wanted to do with my life.  I feared that eventually I would be forced to choose one specific area of expertise, and that would be the only thing I studied for the rest of my life. After reading Hedy Lamarr’s story, I realized that it will indeed be possible for me to be an expert in any field that intrigues me — I simply have to devote time to it and not let anyone else stop me.  I believe she and I are similar in that regard; we both have insatiable curiosities and hopes of using our talents to solve problems. When I feel discouraged or tempted to settle for mediocrity, I remember Hedy Lamarr’s brilliance and her perseverance, and I am inspired to strive to be the best version of myself I can possibly be.

The author's comments:

I originally wrote this piece for a college essay that asked me to write about a person who has influenced me greatly.  I decided to tell the story of how actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr became one of my role models.  I hope that you can relate to my story, and that it inspires you, whether you admire this remarkable woman as well or some other hero in your life.

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