Mathematician John Nash and his wife Alicia “were together for most of their lives.” The two first married in 1957 and then divorced in 1962. But in 2001, the couple got remarried having been living together again since the 1970s. She was just as smart as her husband, being one of 16 women to enter MIT in 1955, where she met John Nash. The two had one son with Alicia playing a prominent role in her genius husband’s career. In 2001, she was played by Jennifer Connolly in an Oscar-winning performance in A Beautiful Mind. Both were killed on the night of May 23 in an horrific car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Couple Weren’t Wearing Their Seat Belts
According to NJ.com, the couple were not thought to be wearing seat belts when they were killed along the New Jersey Turnpike on the night of May 23. They were ejected from their taxi as their driver lost control of his car, hitting a guardrail while he was trying to overtake another vehicle. The cab driver was treated at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick for non-life-threatening injuries. No charges are expected against the driver.
2. Despite Being an Atheist, Nash Married Alicia in a Catholic Ceremony
John Nash first met Alicia Lopez-Harrison de Larde around 1952, while he was still in a relationship with a woman named Eleanor Stier. Stier had John’s baby but he’s thought to have abandoned the family due to her low social-status, according to a Guardian report. He married Alicia in a Catholic ceremony in February 1957. Despite the fact that John Nash was an avowed atheist. The couple were divorced not long after in 1962 but still remained close, remarrying in 2001 at their home in New Jersey. Alicia said about it “We thought it would be a good idea. After all, we’ve been together most of our lives.” The two had been living together again since the 1970s, John Nash was a “boarder” according to Alicia. She spoke about the first time she met Nash in the book about his life saying “I walked into the classroom, and I thought he was very nice looking. He was like the fair-haired boy of the math department.”
3. Alicia Was a Latina, But Was Portrayed by Jennifer Connolly in A Beautiful Mind
She was a native of El Salvador but was a naturalized citizen of the U.S. Alicia graduated from MIT with a degree in physics. According to a PBS profile, her family were well-off, living just outside of San Salvador. Then, in 1994, the family moved to the U.S., first settling in Biloxi, Mississippi, before moving to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In her youth, she had traveled the world and spoke several languages. In the movie about John Nash’s life, A Beautiful Mind, she was played by white-American actress Jennifer Connolly. The Los Angeles Times criticized this move saying “In the film, there was nothing that indicated that Alicia Nash was a Latina immigrant, even though it was addressed extensively in the book on which the movie is based. And clearly the filmmakers cared enough about veracity to have Russell Crowe substitute his pronounced Australian accent with a West Virginia one.” Connolly went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 2002.
4. She Was Worried That Her Mentally Ill Son Would Have to Live on the Street
In 2009, the Nash’s took a rare step into the spotlight to advocate for better mental health facilities in New Jersey. NJ.com reported at the time that their 49-year-old son, also named John, was living with them in the West Windsor Township of New Jersey, while he was also battling schizophrenia. His father suffered with the same condition. Harrowingly, Alicia told NJ.com “When I am gone, will Johnny be living on the street?” In her PBS profile, Alicia talks about how she raised her son along with the help of her mother.
5. She Was a Computer Programmer for NJ Transit
During her working life, Alicia was an employee of New Jersey Transit, working as a computer programmer, according to her LinkedIn page. In one online profile, it says that, like her husband, Alicia also worked at Princeton for a time.