She possessed the kind of beauty that was haunting, an almost smoldering sensuality that made Hedy Lamarr one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1940s. But she also possessed a keen intellect that she hoped could be put to use for the Allied war effort.
Her idea for a radio-controlled torpedo, guided by a signal that couldn't be intercepted - a technology she called "frequency hopping" - that was a precursor for the technology that decades later made GPS, cell phones and WiFi possible.
By CBSNews.com senior editor David Morgan
Born Hedwig Kiesler to Jewish parents in Austria, she found work as a script girl at a Vienna movie studio, and with her looks quickly wrangled small parts in films, before moving on to Berlin At left: Hedy in the German production "Man braucht kein Geld" (1932).
At a young age Hedy married a wealthy arms manufacturer named Fritz Mendl, and spent many an evening absorbing his talk of top-secret weapons systems with the likes of Mussolini and others.
At age 18, Hedy became an international sensation in the Czech-Austrian film "Ecstasy" (1933), an erotic tale of an unsatisfied young bride of an older man falling into the arms of a young dude. The film featured ample footage of the young actress cavorting though the woods nude, and engaged in passionate embraces with her co-star.
Hedy Lamarr in "Ecstasy" (1933).
Lamarr's husband tried to buy up all existing prints to have them destroyed, but failed. (Mussolini, among others, kept his!)
Determined to leave Europe (and her husband), Lamar sailed for the U.S. on the same ocean liner as MGM head Louis B. Meyer, who quickly put Hedy under contract.
Lamarr's first film in the U.S. was "Algiers," a remake of the French film "Pepe le Moko." "Algiers" starred Charles Boyer as the criminal who invites Lamarr to come with him to the Casbah.
Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr in "Algiers" (1938).
Hedy Lamarr is the half-caste bride of American playboy Robert Taylor in "Lady of the Tropics" (1939), a torrid melodrama set in Saigon.
Hedy Lamarr in "Lady of the Tropics."
Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr in "I Take This Woman" (1940).
The cast of "Boom Town," the 1940 drama about oil wildcatters and the women they love: Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr, Claudette Colbert and Spencer Tracy.
Following the success of "Boom Town," MGM reteamed Gable and Lamarr in "Comrade X" (1940), a broad comedy that hoped to trade on the success of the previous year's "Ninotchka" starring Greta Garbo as a Communist being wooed by a Westerner.
Here Lamarr played a Communist street conductor who is to be smuggled out of Russia by a reporter played by Gable.
Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr in "Comrade X" (1940).
As war clouds grew, and an ocean liner carrying refugee British children was torpedoed by a German U-Boat, Lamarr was motivated to contribute to the Allied effort. A hobbyist inventor - she kept a part of her drawing room furnished with drafting table and tools - Lamar devised a means to steer torpedoes by remote control using changing radio frequencies (what she dubbed "frequency hopping") so that the transmissions could not be jammed by the enemy.
She collaborated with avant garde composer George Antheil, who had synchronized player pianos for a musical piece, and had the designs patented.
She donated her patent to the U.S. government, but the Navy rejected her designs and unworkable - convinced the mechanisms would be too large to fit into a torpedo. Instead, they suggested she contribute to the war effort as other movie stars did, helping to sell war bonds - which she did, in the millions.
Edward Everett Horton, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr and Eve Arden in starred in "Ziegfeld Girl" (1941), about the romantic entanglements of show girls at the famed Ziegfeld Follies. Also in the cast were James Stewart and Judy Garland.
Hedy Lamarr in "Come Live With Me."
Hedy Lamarr and James Stewart in "Come Live With Me."
The 1942 film version of the John Steinbeck novel "Tortilla Flat," about the tough lives and tragedies facing Monterey fisherman had a happier, Hollywood-ized ending, and featured Hedy Lamarr as Dolores Ramirez and John Garfield as her husband. The film also starred Spencer Tracy, Frank Morgan and Akim Tamiroff.
Hedy Lamarr in "Tortilla Flat."
Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr in "Tortilla Flat" (1942), based on the John Steinbeck novel.
Hedy Lamarr in "White Cargo" (1942). Based on a popular novel and play about British colonists in Africa and one's passionate love for a black woman, the Hays Office - Hollywood's self-censorship arm - forbade a U.S. film version because the story's romance violated U.S. miscegenation laws.
So MGM changed the "negress" Tondelayo to a half-Egyptian/half-Arab. Problem solved. The cameras rolled, and Hedy Lamarr created one of her most famous roles.
After a successful teaming in the 1942 drama "Crossroads," Hedy Lamarr and William Powell starred in "The Heavenly Body" (1944), a comedy about an astronomer whose wife becomes fascinated with astrology.
Hedy Lamarr in the tale of World War II intrigue set in Lisbon, "The Conspirators" (1944).
Warner Brothers' 1942 classic "Casablanca" was inspired in a way by "Algiers," and the studio had wanted Lamarr for the role ultimately played by Ingrid Bergman. But while that particular casting didn't work out, "Conspirators" does offer three of "Casablanca"'s stars: Paul Heinreid, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.
Hedy Lamarr in June 1944.
Jacques Tourneur's "Experiment Perilous" (1944), starred Paul Lukas, Hedy Lamarr and George Brent in a Gothic tale of insanity and murder.
A lobby card for "Her Highness and the Bellboy" (1945), starring Hedy Lamarr, Robert Walker and June Allyson.
Hedy Lamarr in "The Strange Woman" (1946), a period story of a woman with many men, and few scruples.
A poster for the 1947 melodrama "Dishonoured Lady" (a.k.a. "Sins of Medeleine"). Hedy Lamarr starred as a New York magazine editor with a promiscuous lifestyle who seeks help from a psychiatrist following a suicide attempt. The film costarred Lamarr's third husband, John Loder.
Ray Milland and Hedy Lamarr in "Copper Canyon" (1950).
Hedy Lamarr in "A Lady Without Passport" (1950).
A poster for the Bob Hope-Hedy Lamarr comedy "My Favorite Spy" (1951).
Hedy Lamarr, 36, appears in court as she divorced her fourth husband, Ted Stauffer, in Los Angeles, Calif., March 17, 1952.
Lamarr and the 43-year-old night club owner has married the previous June. Lamarr told the court he was "unkind" to her for weeks at a time.
Hedy Lamarr as Joan of Arc in Irwin Allen's "The Story of Mankind" (1957).
Poster for "The Female Animal" (1958), the last film of Hedy Lamarr, as an aging film star in competition with her alcoholic daughter (Jane Powell) for the affections of a hunky movie extra (George Nader).
Lamarr eventually settled in Florida, where she continued inventing.
In 1998 Hedy Lamarr sued Corel for copyright infringement, claiming the software company had no right to use her image on the packaging of its CorelDraw software.
Corel's lawyer maintained the company used a digitally-produced likeness of Lamarr and not a photograph, but the two parties settled for an undisclosed amount.
Hedy Lamarr died in Florida in 2000, at the age of 86.