Barbie Oppenheimer née Jones spent her career as a speech pathologists, first at Massachusetts General Hospital, then later as a full-time professor at Boston University. She took her job "a little more seriously than Ken took beach," she told the New York Post. Now she's retired, living in the Boston suburbs and spending all the time she can with her grandchildren.
She did not expect her name to be so popular this summer. From BU Today:
"My husband and I knew both movies were coming, and they would be out the same weekend," Barbara Oppenheimer told BU Today Thursday. "But I didn't put together that my name connected those movies—the whole 'Barbenheimer' thing. A couple of friends of mine reached out. I was like, 'What?! Oh, it hadn't occurred to me.' Then my sons reached out, and they were like, 'This is your time, Mom!'"
She was born Barbara Burrington, but as a girl she was choosy about nicknames before settling on Barbie. But then around age 12, she changed her spelling to Barby, to separate her identity from the ubiquitous doll. (Yes, she did have a Barbie—and a Ken and Midge doll—growing up.) As she got older, she preferred Barb, or professionally, Barbara. But to this day, even as a 68-year-old grandmother, she says, friends still call her Barbie.
Oppenheimer told the Post that, "Most people don't believe me when I say my name. They think I'm joking," adding that the Barbenheimer craze has made for a particular fun summer for the 68-year-old, whose husband, Donald Oppenheimer, is distantly related to the more infamous Oppenheimer through his great-great-grandfather. Her seven-year-old grand daughter is currently working as her publicist.
My name is Barbie Oppenheimer — but most people think I'm joking [Brooke Steinberg / NY Post]
An Interview With Barbara Oppenheimer About How Her Summer Is Going [Dan Kois / Slate]