Woman named Barbie Oppenheimer accidentally becomes a living meme

Meera Jacka
Woman named Barbie Oppenheimer accidentally becomes a living meme

J. Robert Oppenheimer’s third cousin happened to marry a woman named Barbara, resulting in a real-life Barbenheimer.

Barbenheimer took the world by storm after it was discovered that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer would be released on the same day.

As thousands flocked to the cinemas and bought tickets to see both as a double feature, Barbenheimer was coined as perhaps the most bizarre crossover to hit the internet yet.

And now it turns out there is a real Barbenheimer. Well, a real Barbara Oppenheimer, married to the third cousin of American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Barbara spoke with Slate about the odd coincidence, revealing what life has been like since accidentally becoming a living meme.

“I had college friends around the world texting me that weekend when [the movies] came out, with the whole schmear, you know… ‘the bomb and the bombshell’,” Barbara said, admitting she thought it was a great marketing ploy. “It’s pretty funny! It was a brilliant thing that they launched them together. It really brought people back into movie theaters.”

And she’s a fan of both movies, approving of how Oppenheimer treated the portrayal of her husband’s third cousin and “tickled pink” by Barbie’s feminist take to the big screen.

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer, one of the highest-grossing movies of all time
Barbara approved of Oppenheimer’s portrayal of her husband’s third cousin.

When it comes to her unique name, Barbara revealed she used to go by Barbie when she was a child but started using her full name after graduating and getting a fellowship at Mass General.

Nonetheless, she has been enjoying her “glorious summer of being Barbie again”, saying, “I’m on vacation right now, and when I checked in at the hotel, I said, ‘Barbie Oppenheimer! The guy said, ‘Are you pulling my leg?’”

She also still owns her own Barbie dolls, though they have since been passed on to be played with by her granddaughter. As Barbara said, “Women today stand on the shoulders of their mothers, who lived the Barbie life.”

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