What Happened To Lewis Strauss After Oppenheimer

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Lewis Strauss continued to live his life involved in politics after the events of Oppenheimer. Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer may be centered on Cillian Murphy’s J. Robert Oppenheimer, dubbed the “father of the atomic bomb.” That being said, the epic biological movie based on the 2005 biography written by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, American Prometheus, is stacked with a star-studded cast, which brings to life the story of Oppenheimer’s time working on the Manhattan Project and his conflicting views on his biggest legacy. Nolan’s Oppenheimer also tackles the titular character’s life beyond that, including the scrutiny of his contentious relationship with Strauss.


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Playing Strauss in Oppenheimer is Robert Downey Jr. This is the actor’s first high-profile role since wrapping up his more than decade-long stint playing Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Downey Jr. isn’t new to playing real-life people on the big screen. In 1992, he earned his first Academy Award nomination for playing the titular character in Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin. This time in Oppenheimer, however, he plays the foil to the movie’s protagonist. Oppenheimer continued to live an interesting life, but so did Strauss.

Related: How Long Oppenheimer’s Runtime Is Compared To Christopher Nolan’s Movies


Lewis Strauss Lost A Senate Nomination After Oppenheimer Hearings

Eisenhower and Strauss

After the then-AEC (United States Atomic Energy Commission) chairman Strauss denied Oppenheimer’s security clearance, he and his cohorts were haunted by the controversial move. After his stint with the agency ended in June 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower nominated him to become the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. By November 1958, Strauss took office via a recess appointment, however, it was met with staunch opposition from the Senate. Ultimately, Strauss’ nomination failed, which marked the only 18th time in US history that a Cabinet appointee was refused by the Senate. The bitter and public conflict was the last straw that ended Strauss’ time in the government.

Despite walking away from serving in the government, the rejection of his Commerce nomination by the Senate plagued Strauss’ final days. In his downfall, however, his many adversaries celebrated. He attempted to remind the public of his service before he was embroiled in the complicated world of politics by releasing the memoir, Men and Decisions in 1962. Despite his tainted legacy, Strauss maintained a good relationship with Eisenhower and Herbert Hoover.

Lewis Strauss Died In 1974, 7 Years After Oppenheimer

Robert Downey Jr as Lewis Strauss Holding Up a Piece of Paper in Oppenheimer

Although Strauss retired from working in the government, he lived on his farm, the Brandy Rock Farm, in Brandy Station, Virginia. Despite developing a penchant for farming activities such as cattle breeding, he still remained active in public service during his final years. He devoted his time to various philanthropic endeavors, including the American Jewish Committee. Just around a decade and a half since he suffered his biggest failure by being rejected by the Senate to become the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and 7 years since Oppenheimer’s own death, Strauss died in 1974. By then, he was already battling lymphosarcoma for three years.