J. Robert Oppenheimer is the father of the atomic bomb. He also kind of looked like David Byrne and I’d really like David Byrne to play him in my screenplay about Oppeneheimer.
Oppenheimer was a well-known and much beloved physicist who taught at UC Berkley and Caltech before the US government enlisted him to be the director of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico. After the atomic bombs were dropped over Japan, Oppenheimer became a celebrity…and a fierce critic of nuclear weapons. This criticism made him public enemy #1 with the US government during McCarthyism, and he was stripped of his security clearance and publicly shamed. He died at the age of 62 of cancer.
That’s the Cliff Notes version of Oppenheimer’s life. It’s infinitely more fascinating that that, in part because of his close relationship with Jean Tatlock, a very smart and very depressed doctor, maybe lesbian, and Communist Party of America member. In this episode, I’d like to explore their on-again off-again relationship, Jean’s effect on Robert’s life, and her untimely death.