Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash, whose life was the subject of the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, and his wife Alicia were reportedly killed in a car crash in New Jersey on Saturday. Nash was 86; Alicia Nash was 82.
According to nj.com, Nash and his wife were riding in the backseat of a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike Saturday when the taxi driver lost control of the vehicle and slammed into the guard rail. State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams told the outlet the couple were not wearing seatbelts, and were ejected from the car.
They were pronounced dead on the scene at 5:18 p.m., 48 minutes after the crash was first reported. The taxi driver, 46-year-0ld Tark Girgis, was reportedly taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Nash’s life was the basis of the 2001 Best Picture Academy Award-winning film A Beautiful Mind, in which he was portrayed by the actor Russell Crowe.
Nash, a mathematics professor at Princeton University, won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994 for his work on game theory, or the mathematics of decision-making. The renowned academic also won the John von Neumann Theory Prize in 1978, and the American Mathematical Society’s Steele Prize for a Seminal Contribution to Research in 1999.
Just last week, Nash had reportedly been in Norway to collect the Abel Prize for mathematics from King Harald V for his work on nonlinear partial differential equations. Nash split the prize – and the $800,000 award – with his longtime colleague Louis Nirenberg, who had flown back from Norway with the couple just before the taxi crash.
John Forbes Nash Jr. was reportedly born and raised in West Virginia. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now called Carnegie Mellon University), and picked up a doctorate in mathematics from Princeton in 1950.
Nash worked on game theory in the late 1940s during his time at Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He met Alicia Larde at MIT, and the couple married in 1957.
But Nash began to struggle with schizophrenia in the late 1950s. In 1959, after quitting his job, Alicia had him committed to several psychiatric facilities including New Jersey’s Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and the Carrier Clinic. The illness also took a toll on Nash’s marriage; he and Alicia divorced in 1962.
According to nj.com, Nash continued to teach and conduct research through the 60s and 70s despite his illness. In the late 70s, Nash’s schizophrenia began to recede, and he eventually returned to live with Alicia and their son John. The couple remarried in 2001 and became mental health care advocates in New Jersey after their son was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Crowe, who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Nash in A Beautiful Mind, tweeted his condolences on Sunday morning:
Stunned…my heart goes out to John & Alicia & family.
An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts. https://t.co/XF4V9MBwU4
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) May 24, 2015
A Beautiful Mind won four Academy Awards at the 2002 ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Jennifer Connelly, who played Alicia Nash in the film, picked up the award for Best Actress.
The film’s director, Ron Howard, said Sunday that “it was an honor” to tell the couple’s story.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) May 24, 2015