To mark the 100th birthday of R. B. Woodward (April 10, 1917–July 8, 1979), a discussion and analysis of Woodward's persona is given. The fundamental theme is that “Woodward experienced his own exceptionality,” as described by Albert Eschenmoser, Woodward's partner in the vitamin B12 project. Woodward's rock star personality is explored and discussed as one of his legacies in addition to his scientific achievements. Woodward presented himself to his students, colleagues, and fellow chemists with an aura of nobility and romanticism.
This view of a very serious R. B. Woodward through the lens of a complex porphyrin encapsulates his lifelong commitment to scholarship and the thrill of discovering and communicating the complexity of nature. Picture from the February 1961 issue of National Geographic magazine.