Julia: Is Stanley Lipschitz Based on an Actual Havard Professor?

Season two of the Max drama show, ‘Julia’ brings a whole new set of adventures and troubles for the titular celebrity Chef and her hit cooking show, ‘The French Chef.’ Likewise, with new narratives and plotlines come new characters that expand the show’s universe, either by imbuing existing character’s storylines or bringing their own to the screen. Stanley Lipschitz is one such new addition to the lovable social group that surrounds Julia Child. Stanley, a Harvard professor with a fascinating career path, finds his way into the narrative through an association with Avis DeVoto, Julia’s close friend and producer at WGBH.

Since the show is a dramatized depiction of Julia Child’s real life, several of the aspects involved in Stanley’s character end up having a basis in real life. As such, viewers are bound to wonder about the connections the professor may have to reality.

What Inspired Stanley Lipschitz?

Stanley Lipschitz from ‘Julia’ season two is not based on a real-life professor from Harvard. Instead, the character is entirely fictitious in nature, with a few interesting details corresponding to reality added to his storyline to capture the audience’s interest and compel them to engage with his narrative. Introduced in the first episode of season two titled, ‘Loup En Croûte,’ the professor crosses paths with Julia’s inner circle at an anti-war gathering.

Avis DeVoto and Russ Morash attend the meeting, with the latter searching for a bold personality to host his upcoming docuseries project. Meanwhile, Avis mingles with the crowd, most of whom are her colleagues from Harvard. Consequently, she meets Stanley Lipschitz, a physics professor with a complicated relationship to wars.

A few years ago, Stanley worked on the Manhattan Project under Hans Bethe at the Los Alamos Laboratory, where he collaborated with other scientists to create a formula for the atomic bomb’s explosive yield. The horrifying deaths that it resulted in gravely affected the man, even though Stanley played a minor role in the Project as one of the hundreds of scientists on board.  Therefore, driven by his guilt, the professor turned into a pacifist.

Stanley’s backstory allows the show to execute several impressive name-drops, such as Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein. Yet, there’s likely no real-life basis for the character’s past experiences. Numerous scientists worked on the Manhattan Project whose names history has forgotten. Yet, since there are no available records about any physicist named Stanley Lipschitz who was involved in Bethe’s life’s work, we can only assume Danny Burstein’s character in ‘Julia’ is a work of fiction.

Narratively, Stanley’s most crucial contribution to the show remains his romantic subplot with Avis DeVoto. After their first meeting, Avis and Stanley become romantically entangled with one another. Their relationship faces some tumultuous roadblocks, mostly through Avis’ own complications regarding dating in her old age. Nonetheless, the two manage to chart a compelling and satisfying relationship together, showcasing how love can be found anywhere and anytime.

Creator Daniel Goldfarb spoke of Stanley’s character and said, “[Yeah,] I think Danny’s [Burstein] dynamic with Bebe [Neuwirth, Avis’ actress] is pretty special. I think there’s magic with the two of them. That was really fun for me to see.” Thus, the most significant and relatable aspect of Stanley’s character remains his romance with Avis. Since the man comes as a second shot at love and romantic happiness for the woman, his storyline may prove to parallel many viewers’ real-life experiences.

Still, Stanley’s storyline with Avis also cements him as a fictionalized character. Despite Avis’ roots in reality, the real-life book editor of the same name, who is the inspiration for Bebe Neuwirth’s character, never publicly dated a man named Stanley Lipschitz. The same only reinforces the latter’s fictionality further. Ultimately, Stanley Lipschitz presents a rich addition to ‘Julia’ with many riveting facets to his character. Nevertheless, he is not based on a real-life person.

Read More: Is Hunter Fox Based on a WGBH Employee?