Don Caspar on Jim Watson, Writer: The Double Helix
  Don Caspar     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jan 2001

Oh, yeah, about Jim as a writer—I think it was after he’d published The Double Helix that Francis said he was going to write his version of the story. Do you know about this? That he was going to call his book The Loose Screw. And the first sentence was: “Jim was always clumsy with his hands.”

Oh, I mean, as I say with The Double Helix, it was, you know, 1955-1956 that you know I heard… We would go to dinner in Pasadena, and this sort of not much in the way of entertainment or social life. Jim would, you know, was really sort of reciting what he was going to write, because so much of what is written there that he had verbalized. He may have actually had written drafts of this. It is a good story, because its such a dramatic event. But, you know, the portrayal of Rosalind Franklin is comic because it has no relation to her character or her appearance. Sort of putting glasses on her and calling her “blue stockings.” She never wore glasses in her life! And it is, I think a lot of things with memory that it’s so easy to remember things very clearly and it turns out that they have no contact with what actually happened.

Donald Caspar, structural biologist and crystallographer, is a professor emeritus of Biological Sciences at the Institute of Molecular Biophysics at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida and is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Born on January 8, 1927, he received his B.A. in Physics from Cornell University in 1950, and his his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Yale University in 1955. Caspar is interested in protein adaptability, virus assembly, protein plasticity and x-ray diffraction. He currently researches the mechanics of protein movements by executing structural studies.

He has attended many symposia at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, starting in 1961, and worked with Watson at Caltech and Harvard. He is a member of the National Academy of Science. Dr. Casper is a long-time friend and colleague of Dr. James D. Watson as well as many of the early pioneers in molecular biology, including Dr. Rosalind Franklin.