Hedy Lamarr…The Unlikely Mother of Bluetooth..| Robert M. Traynor, Ed.D., Hearing Health and Technology Matters|

Last January, Hearing International, wrote a three-part series titled The Audiological Connection of Yunger Futhark.  Initially, it dealt with the development of the Bluetooth technology from the Viking times through the current products that we now enjoy as consumers and our patients are using to great benefit in our hearing instrument fittings.  As the story developed, we first found out that Younger Futhark was the language of the Vikings and as that developed it appeared that the star of the show was the 10th century Danish King Harald Blåtand.

However, things are rarely what they seem.  As the story unfolded it turned out that the 1940s actress Hedy Lamarr was the actual co-inventor (with George Antheil, a jazz composer) of Bluetooth technology.  Hedy Lamarr was a phenomenally beautiful, intelligent, creative, witty, opinionated, passionate woman who believed strongly in cultivating inner strength. In addition to being a world famous movie star, wife and mother, she was a visionary inventor twenty years ahead of her time.

This story has been picked up by Hearing Review and will appear in the blogpage feature of its May 2012 issue. Our original post  focused on how and why Hedy developed the technology, but  said very little about the rest of her remarkable life.  At Hearing International, we think she has a place in audiological history. So we decided to write more about her in our May 2, 2012 posting in honor of Hearing Review’s re-publication of our first post about her. At the Hedy Lamarr official website, the following quotes from Ms. Lamarr are featured:


Other famous quotes ascribed to her include: “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” And a personal favorite of mine,  “If you use your imagination, you can look at any actress and see her nude. I hope to make you use your imagination.” And many others just as feisty.

Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November 9, 1913  in Vienna, she was the daughter of a concert pianist and a banker.  From childhood  she was fascinated by the cinema.  She began acting at an early age and, according to Inventions.org, she went to Max Reinhardt’s famous acting school in Berlin during her late teens. In 1933 she showed the world her acting skills and most of herself in the film Extase (Ecstacy), which quickly became notorious for its extensive nude scenes. The movie played in America, but only after severe cutting.

In 1937 its leading lady went to Hollywood. Louis B. Mayer, of MGM, hired her and gave her the name Lamarr.  She officially changed her name to Hedy Lamarr and starred in her first Hollywood film, Algiers (1938), opposite Charles Boyer. She continued to land parts opposite the most popular and talented actors of the day, including Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart. Some of her films include an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat (1942), White Cargo (1942), Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949) and The Female Animal (1957).  Some thought Hedy to be the most beautiful woman in Hollywood, but as an actress she was overshadowed by stars like Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn.

In 1966, she published her autobiography, Ecstacy and Me One reviewer put it this way…..An easy read, she’s no literary genius, but you have to admire her charming ambition, the innate confidence and the inflated ego…. if this was written in the Naughties there’d be a lot more detail… her nymphomania, bisexuality, kleptomania, art collection, husband collection, psychiatric turbulence, burgeoning acting talents and behind-the-scenes Hollywood stories leave much to the reader’s imagination. However, in the late sixties this autobiography was considered a revelation, such that she tried to prevent the publishers releasing the book. The style of this autobiography is quite camp, a wink and a cheeky smile at the many moments of salaciousness (‘I shall say no more on the subject…. etc etc…..’)”



Need we say more?……………… Ms. Lamarr was definitely glamorous, but as the co-inventor of Bluetooth Technology,she was certainly not just standing still and looking stupid!




About Robert Traynor

Robert M. Traynor is a board certified audiologist with 45 years of clinical practice in audiology. He is a hearing industry consultant, trainer, professor, conference speaker, practice manager, and author. He has 45 years experience teaching courses and training clinicians within the field of audiology with specific emphasis in hearing and tinnitus rehabilitation. Currently, he is an adjunct professor in various university audiology programs.