Quote of the Day – Hedy Lamarr

 

Last week, my wife and I saw the movie “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr story.” I had known she was some sort of early movie actress and I had some idea that she had some technological patents. It winds up she was a pretty interesting person. She was born in Austria and her first marriage (of 6) was to an Austrian munitions manufacturer. She did some early movies, but the most infamous was “Ecstasy” which contained nude scenes. It was regarded as artistic in Europe but banned in America. That seemed to have some impact on her career when she eventually moved here.

She accompanied her husband to business meetings where he conferred with people involved in military technology. That eventually led to some of her inventions. Her husband was very controlling and she fled both him and Hitler as Austria was absorbed by the Nazis and wound up in America.

She had heard that the radio link between ships and the new radio-controlled torpedoes was being jammed and came up with what would become “Frequency Hopping” communications. One problem with that technology was to keep the transmitter and receiver synchronized to the appropriate frequencies. Her idea, along with composer George Anthiel, was to use a player-piano-like roll at each end of the transmission. They both received a patent, but it wound up the Navy didn’t use the technology until the ’60s. She never got any royalty payments for it. The Navy was more interested in using her fame to help raise war bonds. Not many people could see past her beauty to see the talent, but Howard Hughes was one. He gave her full use of his labs.

All in all, she was beautiful and talented and it seems very headstrong. The movie ended with her voice reciting the following aphorisms. (Finally, he gets to a quote!). I am not sure if she was the author or not.

  • People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
  • If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway.
  • The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
  • What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
  • Give the world the best you have, and you’ll be kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.”

I can’t think of many other people who had talents in such different areas.

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There are 21 comments.

  1. Front Seat Cat Member

    She was lovely – and smart. They were so resourceful back then when they had to think and move fast to stay ahead of the terrible enemies that wanted to take over Europe. I love reading about these innovative women who stood up to tyranny. All many people see is a movie star. Thank you for a timely post (75th Anniversary of D-Day month).

    • #1
    • June 10, 2019, at 7:53 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. ctlaw Coolidge

    WillowSpring: She had heard that the radio link between ships and the new radio controlled torpedoes was being jammed and came up with what would become “Frequency Hopping” communications.

    Frequency hopping had long been known in many proposed forms. Here is one: https://patents.google.com/patent/US1869659

    One problem with that technology was to keep the transmitter and receiver synchronized to the appropriate frequencies.

    Correct.

    Her idea -along with composer George Anthiel – was to use a player-piano like roll at each end of the transmission. They both received a patent,

    Correct. https://patents.google.com/patent/US2292387

    but it wound up the Navy didn’t use the technology until the 60’s.

    No. The navy never used her piano roll technology.

    She never got any royalty payments for it. The Navy was more interested in using her fame to help raise war bonds.

    Thus, they hyped her worthless invention.

    Had there been even the slightest merit to her invention, the application would have been placed under a secrecy order rather than being allowed to publish August 11, 1942 so that the Germans and Japanese could read it. Consider this 1944 application that was kept secret until 2001: https://patents.google.com/patent/US6175625B1/en

    My dad worked in the field and told the story of getting one of his patents in the late 1950s or early 60s. He showed it to an old timer. The old timer went to his file cabinet and pulled out a copy of his own ww2-era patent application for the same thing. His case was still under a secrecy order. Over 11k patent applications were put under secrecy order in the war. See https://www.nber.org/papers/w25545

     

    • #2
    • June 10, 2019, at 9:10 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher

    “That’s Headly.”

    Oh stop it. You knew someone was gonna quote Blazing Saddles sooner or later.

    • #3
    • June 10, 2019, at 9:23 AM PDT
    • 22 likes
  4. Stad Thatcher

    WillowSpring: (Finally, he gets to a quote!).

    You read my mind!

    Seriously though, I enjoyed the quotes a lot, and they make good sense.

    • #4
    • June 10, 2019, at 9:54 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    “That’s Headly.”

    Oh stop it. You knew someone was gonna quote Blazing Saddles sooner or later.

    Beat me to it.

    • #5
    • June 10, 2019, at 10:41 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Arahant Member

    And that’s the way it’s done. Hedley, not Headly.

    • #6
    • June 10, 2019, at 12:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Percival Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    And that’s the way it’s done. Hedley, not Headly.

    Piffle.

    • #7
    • June 10, 2019, at 1:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring Post author

    Percival (View Comment):
    Oh stop it. You knew someone was gonna quote Blazing Saddles sooner or later.

    I think about 80% of life’s situations can be addressed by a quote from Blazing Saddles.

    • #8
    • June 10, 2019, at 1:57 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    WillowSpring (View Comment):
    I think about 80% of life’s situations can be addressed by a quote from Blazing Saddles.

    Even when it’s quoting another movie.

    And then there’s the gum rule:

    • #9
    • June 10, 2019, at 2:13 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Randy Webster Member

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Oh stop it. You knew someone was gonna quote Blazing Saddles sooner or later.

    I think about 80% of life’s situations can be addressed by a quote from Blazing Saddles.

    And the rest from The Princess Bride.

    • #10
    • June 10, 2019, at 3:29 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Oh stop it. You knew someone was gonna quote Blazing Saddles sooner or later.

    I think about 80% of life’s situations can be addressed by a quote from Blazing Saddles.

    And the rest from The Princess Bride.

    Or The Big Lebowski.

    • #11
    • June 10, 2019, at 3:36 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Vectorman Thatcher

    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. We have only 6 days left on the June Signup SheetWe even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #12
    • June 10, 2019, at 4:01 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. James Lileks Contributor

    The last movie in which I saw her, she was a rather inert, underwhelming performer.

    And whoooo cared!

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    Had there been even the slightest merit to her invention, the application would have been placed under a secrecy order rather than being allowed to publish August 11, 1942 so that the Germans and Japanese could read it

    I’ve heard this too, but it’s too late; from now on, for the BuzzFeed demographic, she’s the woman who invented wi-fi.

    • #13
    • June 10, 2019, at 8:03 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. Dr. Strangelove Thatcher

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Oh stop it. You knew someone was gonna quote Blazing Saddles sooner or later.

    I think about 80% of life’s situations can be addressed by a quote from Blazing Saddles.

    Or an Airplane! quote. 

    • #14
    • June 10, 2019, at 8:29 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Arahant Member

    Dr. Strangelove (View Comment):
    Or an Airplane! quote. 

    • #15
    • June 10, 2019, at 8:32 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    I really love the quotes, whoever wrote them.

    • #16
    • June 10, 2019, at 8:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Titus Techera Contributor

    Go watch Algiers, folks. 1938 picture, Charles Boyer & Hedy. He plays a thief called Pepe le Moko.

    Hedy Lamarr: From Ecstasy to Frequency! A Beautiful Life ...

    • #17
    • June 10, 2019, at 10:46 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. Bruce Caward Thatcher

    I heard a version of that quote (poem, song?) first from The Roches album Zero Church. I know they didn’t write it, but they set it to music nicely.

    I’m surprised by how much I depend on it to deal with my walk through this veil of tears, especially the last verse – and I’m not even a believer! Still works, anyway.

    The Roches – Anyway

    People are often unreasonable, illogical,
    and self-centered;
    Forgive them anyway.

    If you are kind, People may accuse you
    of selfish, ulterior motives;
    Be kind anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win some
    false friends and some true enemies;
    Succeed anyway.

    If you are honest and frank,
    people may cheat you;
    Be honest and frank anyway.

    What you spend years building, someone
    could destroy overnight;
    Build anyway.

    If you find serenity and happiness,
    they may be jealous;
    Be happy anyway.

    The good you do today,
    people will often forget tomorrow;
    Do good anyway.

    Give the world the best you have,
    and it may never be enough;
    Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

    You see, in the final analysis,
    it is between you and God;
    It was never between you and them anyway

    Author unknown

    music by Maggie and Suzzy Roche
    (The Roches)

    • #18
    • June 11, 2019, at 9:45 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Bruce Caward Thatcher

    • #19
    • June 11, 2019, at 9:48 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. drlorentz Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    He plays a thief called Pepe le Moko.

    Any relation to Pepe le Pew?

    • #20
    • June 11, 2019, at 9:52 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Titus Techera Contributor

    I think so-I think Pepe kinda talks like Boyer, no? As opposed to the other obvious choice–Maurice Chevalier!

    • #21
    • June 11, 2019, at 1:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like