The Princeton math genius whose life story was the subject of the film “A Beautiful Mind” died Saturday in a crash on the New Jersey Turnpike.
John Forbes Nash Jr. was killed in the 4:30 p.m. crash, along with his wife of nearly 60 years, state police said Sunday.
The crash happened in the southbound inner lanes of the highway.
Nash was 86. Alicia Nash was 82.
The couple were in a taxi that crashed with another vehicle.
Actor Russell Crowe, who played Nash in the film, sent his condolences via a tweet Sunday.
The paper said the driver of the taxi, a Ford Crown Victoria, lost control as he tried to pass a Chrysler in the center lane and crashed into a guard rail.
The Nashes were ejected from the car, a state police spokesman told the Newark Star-Ledger.
The person in the Chrysler was transported to a hospital and was expected to survive.
Known as brilliant and eccentric, Nash was associated with Princeton University for many years, most recently serving as a senior research mathematician. He won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1994 for his work in game theory, which offered insight into the dynamics of human rivalry. It is considered one of the most influential ideas of the 20th century.
On May 19, Nash was in Oslo where he received the Abel Prize, a prestigious international math award. The King of Norway presented the award to Nash and a co-recipient, fellow math whiz, Louis Nirenberg.
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters called the two "mathematical giants of the 20th century" who made breakthroughs that have become "essential tools for the study of nonlinear partial differential equations.
Nirenberg said he'd chatted with the couple for an hour at the airport in Newark before they'd gotten a cab. Nirenberg said Nash was a truly great mathematician and "a kind of genius."
"We were all so happy together," Nirenberg said. "It seemed like a dream."
"We are stunned and saddened by news of the untimely passing of John Nash and his wife and great champion, Alicia," Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement Sunday. "Both of them were very special members of the Princeton University community. John's remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists who were influenced by his brilliant, groundbreaking work in game theory, and the story of his life with Alicia moved millions of readers and moviegoers who marveled at their courage in the face of daunting challenges."
John David Stier, Nash's son with his first wife, said he learned of the death Sunday morning. "It's very upsetting," he said.
In an autobiography written for The Nobel Foundation Web site, Nash said delusions caused him to resign as a faculty member at M.I.T. He also spent several months in New Jersey hospitals on an involuntary basis.
However, Nash's schizophrenia diminished through the 1970s and 1980s as he "gradually began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking," he wrote.
The 2001 film "A Beautiful Mind" won four Oscars, including best picture and best director, and generated interest in John Nash's life story. The movie was based on an unauthorized biography by Sylvia Nasar, who wrote that Nash's contemporaries found him "immensely strange" and "slightly cold, a bit superior, somewhat secretive."
Much of his demeanor likely stemmed from mental illness, which began emerging in 1959 when Alicia was pregnant with a son. The film, though, did not mention Nash older son or to the years that he and Alicia spent living together after divorcing. The couple split in 1963, then resumed living together several years later and finally remarried in 2001.
Born in Bluefield, W. Va., to an electrical engineer and a housewife, Nash had read the classic "Men of Mathematics" by E.T. Bell by the time he was in high school. He planned to follow in his father's footsteps and studied for three years at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie Mellon University), but instead developed a passion for mathematics.
He then went to Princeton, where he worked on his equilibrium theory and, in 1950, received his doctorate with a dissertation on non-cooperative games. The thesis contained the definition and properties of what would later be called the Nash equilibrium.
Nash then taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for several years and held a research post at Brandeis University before eventually returning to Princeton.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.