J Robert Oppenheimer’s private and professional lives are the main elements of Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer. The movie provides us with details about his complex connections, including his relationship with his girlfriend Jean Tatlock, played by Florence Pugh in the movie.

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Who was Jean Tatlock?

Jean Tatlock was a psychiatrist who was known for her intimate association with the renowned physicist Robert Oppenheimer. She was the daughter of Professor John S. P. Tatlock, a Chaucer expert at UC Berkeley. She grew up in Cambridge where her father taught at Harvard, and then went to Berkeley.

Robert Oppenheimer and the psychologist crossed paths at UC Berkeley, where they ultimately fell in love and dated for years. Their relationship officially ended when Robert married his wife, Kitty, but Tatlock continued to have an impact on his life even after they parted. Her ties to the Communist Party, in particular, caused him many problems later in his career.

In American Prometheus, a friend noted, “Jean was Robert’s truest love. He loved her the most. He was devoted to her.” According to Biography, Robert proposed to her twice, but she declined both times.

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Tatlock was reportedly an impressive figure and was regarded as a rising star in her field. She was well known for her keen intellect and appealing looks. She did, however, experience severe depressive episodes, and her loved ones continued to worry about her mental health.

Tatlock had established her reputation by 1943 and was employed as a psychiatrist at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco. Tatlock’s affiliation with the Communist Party was another factor that attracted attention to her. She allegedly came under FBI observation, particularly after Oppenheimer was given control of the top-secret Manhattan Project.

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On January 4, 1944, Jean Tatlock committed suicide in her San Francisco residence. She was 29 at the time. When she didn’t answer the doorbell, her father entered the house through the window and found her. She was allegedly discovered with her head in the partially full bathtub.

On her dining room table, a suicide note was discovered. She had a full dinner on her last night and had taken some barbiturates, according to the coroner’s report. Her blood had traces of chloral hydrate. Tatlock’s remains are believed to be buried at a family plot in Albany County, New York.