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Meet the real J. Robert Oppenheimer's family, including his wife Kitty, his 2 children, and his grandchildren

Meet the real J. Robert Oppenheimer's family, including his wife Kitty, his 2 children, and his grandchildren
  • Cillian Murphy plays J. Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer."

  • It explores how the scientist created the world's first atomic bomb.

  • Oppenheimer had a wife and two children. He has three grandchildren, and at least two great-grandchildren.

Christopher Nolan's latest movie, "Oppenheimer," sees Irish actor Cillian Murphy play J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man responsible for leading the Manhattan Project and creating the atomic bomb for the United States during World War II.

He's famously known for quoting the Hindu text, "The Bhagavad Gita," following the nuclear weapons test, saying: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." But he later resigned from the Manhattan Project shortly after the US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

The film was met with huge critical acclaim, earning five awards at the 2024 Golden Globes, including best picture. It also won seven awards at the 2024 BAFTAS, with Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr. taking home awards for best actor and best supporting actor, respectively.

As well as Oppenheimer's nuclear work, the film looks at the scientist's complex personal life, including his marriage to Katherine "Kitty" Oppenheimer, née Puening.

Here's everything you need to know about the real Oppenheimer's family.

Katherine "Kitty" Oppenheimer was married three times before she married Oppenheimer.

Katherine Puening smiles in a photograph.
Katherine "Kitty" Oppenheimer, née Puening, smiles in a photograph.Corbis/Getty Images

Katherine "Kitty" Oppenheimer, née Puening, married the scientist in 1940, only two years before he joined the Manhattan Project.

Kitty had been married three times before, as she wed musician Frank Ramseyer in 1932 before their marriage was annulled in 1933.

Shortly afterward, in 1934, she was involved with the Communist Party of America, and became John Dullet Jr.'s. common-law wife when they lived together in Chicago, before separating in 1936.

Kitty then married Oxford doctor Richard Stewart Harrison in 1938, but had an affair with Oppenheimer while Harrison was working in California. She divorced Harrison in 1940, and married Oppenheimer a day later.

They remained married until Oppenheimer's death from throat cancer in 1967, and Kitty scattered his ashes into the water by the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands, where they had spent plenty of time with their children, Peter and Toni.

Kitty spent the rest of her life with Robert Serber, another physicist from the Manhattan Project, whose wife had died by suicide. Kitty died in hospital in 1972, just as the pair had set out to go sailing to Japan, the Galapagos Islands, and Tahiti.

Peter Oppenheimer still lives on his father's ranch in New Mexico.

J. Robert Oppenheimer’s wife Katherine and children Katherine and Peter, circa 1940.
Peter Oppenheimer.Corbis/Getty Images

Kitty and Robert's oldest child Peter was born in Pasadena, California, in 1941, before the family moved to Los Alamos for the Manhattan Project.

According to the Nuclear Museum, Peter struggled with anxiety as a child, and didn't have a good relationship with his mother.

His father's secretary, Verna Hobson, became something of a "surrogate mother" instead. Unfortunately, Peter didn't do well at the Quaker school in Newtown, Pennsylvania, he went to, and didn't get the grades he needed to graduate.

He eventually finished his education at a public high school.

When his father died in 1967, Peter moved back to the Perro Caliente ranch in New Mexico that Robert owned, and still lives there at the age of 81. He's worked as a carpenter over the years, and has three children.

Katherine "Toni" Oppenheimer died in 1977.

J. Robert Oppenheimer’s wife Katherine and children Katherine and Peter, circa 1940.
Katherine "Toni" Oppenheimer.Corbis/Getty Images

Toni Oppenheimer was born in 1944 and was brought up at Los Alamos, but went to school in Princeton, New Jersey, after her father landed the job as director of the Institute for Advanced Study and moved the family.

Toni had polio when she was young, which is largely why the family started visiting St. John in the Virgin Islands — because the warmth helped her condition.

As per the Nuclear Museum, Toni didn't get on well with her mother when she was a teenager – largely because of Kitty's reliance on alcohol.

Two years after Robert's death in 1967, Toni was rejected from a role in the United Nations as a translator. She struggled to cope with losing her father, and her job, and after living on the island of St. John for a while, she died by suicide in January 1977, just a month after she turned 32.

Peter Oppenheimer had three children: Charles Oppenheimer, Dorothy Vanderford, and Ella Oppenheimer.

Charles Oppenheimer and Dorothy Vanderford.
Charles Oppenheimer and Dorothy Vanderford.Atomic Heritage Foundation/YouTube

Although Toni didn't have any children before her death, Peter Oppenheimer has three: Charles, Ella, and Dorothy.

Dorothy Vanderford, who was born in 1973, is Oppenheimer's oldest grandchild, and currently works at the Nevada National Security Site as a technical writer, following in her grandfather's scientific footsteps.

She spoke to KSNV about the film, and said that Christopher Nolan didn't consult the family about making his movie.

"They did not reach out to us and the family did not contribute to the creation of the movie or the narrative," she said. "It's an artistic project that Nolan is doing on his own terms. I'm excited at this point that the movie is coming out. I actually was able to preview it last night and I overall feel positive about it."

She added: "There were a few things that I didn't agree with and didn't like, but overall I felt like it was a good movie."

Little is known about Ella, but Charles was born in 1975, and has worked in developing software for most of his life. He also describes himself as an entrepreneur.

Both Dorothy and Charles took part in a lengthy interview in 2015 about their grandfather for the Atomic Heritage Foundation.

At the time, Charles pointed out that many historians find his grandfather a mysterious figure, but his life is "a fascinating story."

"In particular, people are having a hard time pinning down who this guy was. I guess it's made it difficult to deal with for the family, for some people. Not for me," he said.

Charles has two daughters with his wife, Karen Pak Oppenheimer, which means that Oppenheimer has at least two great-grandchildren.

Read the original article on Business Insider