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Supplies of Lamarr medal dwindle

 Hedy Lamarr appears on the obverse of the new Jewish-American Hall of Fame medal by Eugene Daub. The reverse shows a portion of her patent. (Photos courtesy of Eugene Daub)

Hedy Lamarr appears on the obverse of the new Jewish-American Hall of Fame medal by Eugene Daub. The reverse shows a portion of her patent. (Photos courtesy of Eugene Daub)

Supplies of the 49th medal in a series issued by the Jewish-American Hall of Fame depicting legendary 1940s Hollywood movie star Hedy Lamarr are running out.

The limited edition two-inch, three-ounce medal is designed by Eugene Daub.

There were 120 made in bronze, 60 in pure silver, and 30 in gold-plated pure silver.

The medals were struck at the Highland Mint.

Only a small number of bronze medals remain. They can be acquired for a contribution of $50 each to the non-profit Jewish-American Hall of Fame.

To order, call 818-225-1348. Mention that you read about this in Numismatic News and you can take a 10 percent discount.

Donald Scarinci, who serves on the Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission, said: “This is an amazing portrait by Eugene Daub that belongs in the cabinet of every serious collector of coins and medals.”

Obverse shows Lamarr in a thoughtful pose while the reverse features a portion of her patent.

As was shown in the recent PBS documentary, Bombshell, the movie icon was not only beautiful but also possessed of a scientific mind.

Hedy Lamarr (neé Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler) was born to Jewish parents in 1914 in Vienna. In early 1933, at age 18, she starred in the movie Ecstasy, where she gained worldwide fame for a brief nude scene.

After she met Louis B. Mayer in Paris, he persuaded her to change her name to Hedy Lamarr and brought her to Hollywood. Lamarr made her American film debut in Algiers (1938), opposite Charles Boyer.

According to one viewer, when her face first appeared on the screen, “everyone gasped – Lamarr’s beauty literally took one’s breath away.”

She made 18 films from 1940 to 1949. After leaving MGM in 1945, she enjoyed her biggest success as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah, the highest-grossing film of 1949.

Lamarr has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Boulevard, adjacent to Vine Street.

During World War II, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be jammed, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course. With the knowledge she had gained about torpedoes from her first husband, she thought of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed.

She contacted her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil, to help her develop a device for doing that, and he succeeded by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals. They drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system, which they patented.

However, it was technologically difficult to implement, and at that time the U.S. Navy was not receptive to considering inventions coming from outside the military – especially from a movie star.

Lamarr used her celebrity status to sell war bonds. Under an arrangement in which she would kiss anyone who purchased $25,000 worth of bonds, she sold $7 million worth in one night.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that engineers began experimenting with ideas documented in Lamarr and Antheil’s system. Their work with spread spectrum technology contributed to the development of GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, which today help many of us find our way.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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