Google’s homepage doodle on Monday honored the 101st birthday of 1940s Hollywood screen icon Hedy Lamarr.
She was one of the most famous Jews of her age. Born Hedwig Kiesler, she fled Europe for Hollywood in 1938, and later helped her mother escape from Nazi-ruled Austria.
Lamarr played some of Hollywood’s most iconic female roles from 1938 to the 1950s. She was promoted in the 1940s as the “most beautiful woman in the world.”
But Lamarr was less impressed with her on-screen accomplishments or her looks, commenting that “any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”
Lamarr didn’t intend to stand around looking stupid. During World War II, she worked with a friend on developing radio technologies that could be used by American forces to communicate despite Nazi jamming.
The result was a frequency-hopping radio technology she patented that became an intrinsic feature of modern-day digital communication technologies such as Wifi and Bluetooth.
She was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014 (she died in 2000, age 86) in recognition for this work.
“She’s just so cool,” Google’s Jennifer Hom, who researched Lamarr for the doodle and accompanying animated clip, told CNN. “She was very complicated and very accomplished at the same time.”
“She was really curious and had an active intellect and she was always trying to learn. I like to think of her as superhero figure where you have a daytime personality and a nighttime personality,” Hom said.