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Celebrity Rand Fans

Celebrity Rand Fans

By Robert James Bidinotto

January/February 2006 -- It was the evening of May 13, 2004, and on PBS-TV’s Charlie Rose Show the host was chatting with actor Brad Pitt about Troy, his new movie.

“As he has done on other occasions, Pitt talked glowingly of the science and aesthetics of architecture,” reports scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra. “Rose asked him if he knew of any way to combine his passion for architecture with his passion for acting; he wondered if there was any ‘story of a great architect’ that might inspire Pitt.
 
“‘That would go back to The Fountainhead,’ Pitt replied. Rose wondered if Pitt would even consider re-making it. Pitt said that the book is ‘so dense and complex, it would have to be a six-hour movie…I don’t know how you do it under four, and not lose, really lose, what Ayn Rand was after.’ But he affirmed his profound interest to star in a re-make, and cited Oliver Stone’s own interest in directing it as a feature film.”
 
Brad Pitt—arguably Hollywood’s biggest star—playing Howard Roark?
 
Oliver Stone—unquestionably Hollywood’s farthest-left director—remaking an Ayn Rand film?
 
It gets weirder.
 
On October 3 of the same year, Pitt’s soon-to-be girlfriend, Angelina Jolie, appeared on Topic A, a now-defunct CNBC show hosted by Tina Brown. Brown asked Jolie what she’d been reading lately.
 
“What am I reading? I’ve been very into Ayn Rand, so I’ve read The Fountainhead and then Atlas Shrugged,” Jolie replied. “I just think she has a very interesting philosophy.” She added: “You re-evaluate your own life and what’s important to you.”
 
Angelina JolieHollywood’s leading Bad Girl—re-evaluating her life values because of Ayn Rand?

Ten or twenty years ago, if Hollywood’s hottest couple had publicly announced interest in the ideas of America’s most controversial individualist, eyebrows would have banged against the ceiling. Today, it’s more remarkable because they don’t.
 
But the story gets even weirder.
 
Jennifer Aniston—Pitt’s ex-wife, who divorced him over his relationship with Jolie—is now involved with actor Vince Vaughn. (Coincidentally, Vaughn also had a role in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the film where Pitt and Jolie met. Small world.)
 
But more significant for readers of this magazine are Vaughn’s reading habits. In 1998, interviewer Judd Handler asked Vaughn about them.
 
“The last book I read,” Vaughn replied, “was the book I’ve been rereading most of my life—The Fountainhead.”
 
So try to follow this: Fountainhead fan Pitt leaves wife Aniston for Fountainhead fan Jolie, after which Aniston takes up with Fountainhead fan Vaughn. Meanwhile, leftist director Stone wants to remake The Fountainhead movie. Starring Pitt.
 
Notice a common thread here?
 

Ayn Rand Becomes…Cool 

Decades after publication, Ayn Rand’s novels suddenly have become the bedside reading of many on Hollywood’s A-list. But the reach of her work extends much farther—into boardrooms and major league dugouts, onto the bright sets of TV studios and the grass courts of Wimbledon, into the cluttered dens of famous cartoonists and the bustling offices of Capitol Hill. Everywhere, it seems, the prominent and the powerful are coming out of the philosophical closet—so to speak—and acknowledging the personal influence and inspiration they have drawn from Rand’s work.
 
Ayn Rand was once an intellectual pariah.
This represents a sea change in attitudes. Rand used to say that she was challenging the cultural traditions of two and a half thousand years—a claim underscored by the icy reception given her books by most leading intellectuals. While the general public devoured her novels and sent her thousands of avid fan letters, critics mocked them as hack writing, while scholars dismissed them as junk philosophy. Reviews, especially for Atlas Shrugged, were scathing. For example, the New York Times reviewer—Communist Party member Granville Hicks—denounced Atlas as being “written out of hate.”
 
How times have changed. In the pattern of many once-reviled innovators, Ayn Rand appears to be achieving a kind of posthumous public vindication. One sign of this is the increasing willingness of many popular celebrities to associate their names with hers.
 
Of course, endorsements of Ayn Rand’s books and ideas by public figures (or anyone else) don’t constitute proof of their merits. Nor do the statements of movie stars, athletes, and politicians usually reveal anything more than a superficial or compartmentalized grasp of what Rand stands for, or a passing interest in her work.
 
But that’s not my point here. The real point worth noting is that statements by public-relations-savvy celebrities do constitute a reliable barometer of cultural trends. And the new willingness of so many public figures to endorse Ayn Rand’s works indicates that she and her ideas are becoming less and less controversial.
 
The existence of a large and enthusiastic group of “celebrity Rand fans” underscores what might be called “the mainstreaming of Ayn Rand.” When even Hollywood hunks and hotties are no longer embarrassed to enthuse about Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead to a Charlie Rose or Tina Brown, it’s a measure of significant progress in the spread of her ideas through the culture.
 
In fact, it may even suggest that Ayn Rand is becoming—dare I say it?—cool.
 

Philosopher to the Stars? 

Consider the other two actors whose photos appear on our cover.
 
Rob Lowe was interviewed in September 2004 by Elle magazine and was asked, “What woman, living or dead, would you love to meet?” The former West Wing star answered enthusiastically, “I’m almost done with Atlas Shrugged and it’s completely blowing my mind, so Ayn Rand.” In another interview he added, “Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is a stupendous achievement and I just adore it.”
 
Funny man Jim Carrey revealed a more serious side in a December 1995 cover feature for Esquire. “Did he have at least a small part of his brain reserved for intellectual pursuits?” the interviewer wondered about the zany star. “‘Well,’ [Carrey] said, ‘I do.’ He is ‘completely fascinated by metaphysical things and philosophy,’ he said, which translates into a familiarity with ‘every book on the self-help shelf,’ along with inspirational novelists like Ayn Rand and C. S. Lewis.”
 
What may well have been a passing interest for Jim Carrey is a passion for other stars.
 
For decades, few prominent people wished to be associated with Rand, or linked to her radical individualist philosophy.
In a 2002 issue of Marie Claire magazine, an interviewer asked actress Sandra Bullock what twelve things she would take with her if she were to be marooned on a desert island. Hollywood’s favorite Girl Next Door listed, at number eleven, “The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.” She explained: “The main character, Howard Roark, being safe and strong enough to be the outsider, to be the lone voice, is such a great metaphor for what, in one way, the [movie] business promotes and looks for, and in another way, doesn’t allow. When somebody breaks out and completely shatters the mold, it’s inspiring. It’s scary to set off by yourself like that.”
 
And no doubt the image of a man willing to stand alone and unafraid against the world would be reassuring, even inspiring, to a woman stranded on a desert island.
 
Film and TV star Christina Ricci is another huge fan of the novel. In one interview she declared, “My favorite book is The Fountainhead. That’s by Ayn Rand. I relate to it because of the idea that you’re not a bad person if you don’t love everyone.” Ricci told Movieline in 2001 that she also appreciated the book “because the writing is so beautiful.”
 
The former Golden Globe nominee’s love for the Rand classic runs so deep that when asked to name three wishes connected to movies, her first wish was, “I’d want to remake The Fountainhead.” (True to the theme of the book, when asked if “you have a large ego,” the outspoken young actress replied, “Yes.”) Ricci even posed with the novel in hand in a poster for an American Library Association campaign to promote reading. (Sadly, the poster is no longer in print.)
 
For a long time, actress Sharon Stone campaigned hard for the role of Rand heroine Dagny Taggart in proposed film projects of Atlas Shrugged. Known for her carefully calculated career moves, Stone spent a January 16, 1994 New York Times interview talking enthusiastically, and almost entirely, about Rand’s magnum opus. Her campaign to get the Dagny part continued for years. According to a March 9, 1998 U.S. News & World Report feature about Rand’s mounting influence, producer Craig Anderson, then trying to bring the novel to the screen, “found himself fielding calls from dozens of supplicants, including actress Sharon Stone, who have lobbied to work on a classic they claim shaped their lives.”
 
The public library in Gardiner, Maine, annually asks celebrities to name books they would recommend to others. One who replied in 1995 was TV star Mayim Bialik, who eagerly endorsed both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. “By far the most incredible books I have read,” she wrote. “Enthralling and educational—opened up a whole other dimension to me.” Apparently so: though a successful actress, Bialik also has been working on her Ph.D. in neuroscience at UCLA.
 
Another star who responded to the library’s survey was actor and comedian Jerry Lewis. In 1999 Lewis wrote back to say that he recommended The Fountainhead. “It’s a very profound book…Makes you think!”
 
Award-winning stage, television, and screen actor Edward Herrmann has performed a remarkable range of roles during his distinguished career, from President Franklin Roosevelt to publisher William Randolph Hearst. But he is also the only actor to have played all of Ayn Rand’s leading characters—in the audio recordings of her two major novels. Herrmann was therefore my obvious choice to narrate The World of Atlas Shrugged, an audio recording that I scripted and produced for The Atlas Society in 2000.
 
I met Herrmann for the recording session in a New York studio. Tall, jovial, and dapper, he chatted with me about Rand during the breaks. Though he doesn’t agree with all of Rand’s ideas, he made it clear that he regards her as a serious and challenging thinker, and a novelist who has never been given the full credit she deserves.
 
Other Hollywood figures who have been listed in various publications as being fans of Rand’s work include 2006 Oscar nominee Michelle Williams, Tom Selleck, Jill St. John, Raquel Welch, and Phoebe Cates—though I’ve not been able to confirm the last three independently. A few years ago, Oscar-winning producer Al Ruddy (The Godfather, Million Dollar Baby) told me that Ashley Judd also was a fan of Atlas Shrugged, and Ruddy considered her his top choice to play Dagny Taggart in his own ultimately abortive effort to make a film from the novel.
 
For some stars, interest in Rand’s work is so serious that she has even become a kind of litmus test. When the popular Web site AskMen.com interviewed actress Eva Mendes, co-star of the film Hitch, they asked the sultry Latin beauty,
 
“What is the most important quality that a man must possess to be with you?”
 
“Self-confidence, rational, ambition, and lovability,” she replied, then added: “Oh, and he has to be an Ayn Rand fan.”
 
Among notables behind the camera, Oliver Stone is not the only director to profess an interest in Rand (although many speculate that his fixation is based on hostility). As mentioned, producer Al Ruddy has been obsessed for decades in bringing Atlas Shrugged to the screen, and regards Dagny Taggart as one of the greatest female characters in the history of fiction. Wayne Kramer, director of Running Scared and The Cooler, lists The Fountainhead as one of his three favorite novels. And according to the April 1999 issue of In Style, no less a Hollywood icon than director Steven Spielberg loves the film version of The Fountainhead, which he views as a hymn to artistic integrity and has seen more than ten times.
 

Spreading the Word 

The mainstreaming of Ayn Rand has spread beyond Tinseltown, permeating virtually every remote office and studio of the entertainment media.
 
Elsewhere in this issue we look at the work of best-selling fantasy novelist Terry Goodkind, who is openly committed to Objectivism. There’s novelist Erika Holzer, author of a new book on her student-mentor literary relationship with Ayn Rand. Another Objectivist novelist is Edward Cline, who over the years has moved from detective novels to historical fiction with his critically acclaimed “Sparrowhawk” series, set in the Revolutionary War. During his early days as a thriller and horror writer, Ira Levin was also an admirer of Rand’s fiction.
 
Yet another notable Rand literary admirer: novelist James Clavell, author of Shogun and other stories set in the Far East. Marsha Familaro Enright, founder of the College of the United States, discovered at an auction of Rand memorabilia that Clavell had inscribed the following inside a copy of his novel Noble House that he had given to Rand:
 
This is for Ayn Rand
–one of the real, true talents on this earth for which many, many thanks
James C
New York
2 Sept 81
 
Comic books and so-called graphic novels leave a lasting impact on young minds. Millions of kids (and more than a few adults) revel in the fanciful exploits of colorful superheroes; and some of the most popular stories in the genre have been written by men with a serious interest in Ayn Rand’s ideas.
 
Ideas once dismissed and derided are winning converts and acceptance.
Most noteworthy is Steve Ditko, the famed co-creator of “Spider-Man.” Ditko is an avowed Objectivist, a fact that could not be lost on those who read his series featuring characters such as “The Question” and “Mr. A” (drawn from the Randian syllogism “A is A.”) Another major comic book writer who explicitly acknowledges an intellectual debt to Ayn Rand is Frank Miller. Miller, as author of the hugely popular “Dark Knight” graphic novels of the 1980s, breathed new life into the Batman franchise, which has expanded to popular films, such as the outstanding recent movie, Batman Begins. Rand scholar Chris Sciabarra reports that Miller “credits Rand’s Romantic Manifesto as having helped him to define the nature of the literary hero and the legitimacy of heroic fiction.” Sciabarra quotes Miller as declaring, in his introduction to one story, that
 
…I was drawn again and again to the ideas presented by Ayn Rand in her 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. Eschewing the easy and much-used totalitarian menace made popular by George Orwell, Rand focused instead on issues of competence and incompetence, courage and cowardice, and took the fate of humanity out of the hands of a convenient “Big Brother” and placed it in the hands of individuals with individual strengths and individual choices made for good or evil. I gratefully and humbly acknowledge the creative debt.
 
Moving from the lowly comic book, we find admirers of Rand’s ideas and fiction in the highest echelons of the mainstream media.
 
In 1993, Playboy founder and publisher Hugh Hefner responded to the Gardiner library survey to attest to the impact that The Fountainhead had made on him. “This tale of an idealistic architect is a compelling tribute to man’s quest for personal freedom,” Hef wrote. “I read it first in college and it had a profound effect on me at the time.” Many will recall that in 1964, Playboy published one of the most popular and important interviews of Ayn Rand.
 
The talk radio airwaves are filled with hosts who cite and acknowledge debts to Rand. They include the highly rated Neal Boortz, and the most popular talker of them all, Rush Limbaugh; both are known to quote from Rand’s books on the air.

Rand fans are becoming important voices at major television outlets, too. On the Fox News Channel, financial commentator Jonathan Hoenig is an outspoken advocate of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. More prominent and influential, though, is investigative reporter John Stossel of ABC News, whose hard-hitting specials expose countless fallacies about government, health and environmental scares, and cultural irrationality in a manner strikingly consistent with Rand’s own views. That’s no accident. The February 11, 2004 issue of The Daily Princetonian student newspaper carried an interview with Stossel, where he credits his political conversion from liberal to “libertarian” to several sources, including Reason magazine and its former editor Virginia Postrel. He added that “Ayn Rand and a book by Charles Murray called In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government have also influenced me.” Among those whom he acknowledges in his bestseller, Give Me a Break, is David Kelley, founder of The Atlas Society, which publishes this magazine. 
 

“The Striving for Excellence” 

Ayn Rand’s ideas permeate other popular arenas—literally. Champions thrive on inspiration, and many giants of the sports world have found theirs in the pages of Ayn Rand’s fiction.
 
Take tennis legend Martina Navratilova. Asked by the Gardiner Public Library to name her favorite book, she picked The Fountainhead. Her reasons? “The striving for excellence, sticking to your beliefs and ideals even if it means going against the popular tide. Accepting responsibility—wow, what a concept—too bad politicians don’t read these books.” (But they do; read on.)
 
Remarkably, Navratilova’s great career rival, Chris Evert, is a fan of Ayn Rand’s work, too. In the February 2003 issue of Good Housekeeping she revealed, “When I was younger, a book that made a big impression on me was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read it when I was first making the rounds of tennis tournaments.”
 
As my colleague Roger Donway has noted, “From March 1973 to November 1988, these two fans of Rand’s novels created the greatest one-on-one rivalry in sports history, facing each other eighty times, including sixty finals. Said Evert after it was over: ‘We brought out the best in each other.’”
 
Even more remarkably, yet another female tennis immortal, Billie Jean King, also named Atlas Shrugged as her favorite novel. In her interview with Playboy, she related with unusual eloquence the profound effect the novel had had on her life and career after she read it in 1972: 
 
The book really turned me around, because, at the time, I was going through a bad period in tennis and thinking about quitting. People were constantly calling me and making me feel rotten if I didn’t play in their tournament or help them out. I realized then that people were beginning to use my strength as a weakness—that they were using me as a pawn to help their own ends and if I wasn’t careful, I’d end up losing myself. So, like Dagny Taggart, I had to learn how to be selfish, although selfish has the wrong connotation. As I see it, being selfish is really doing your own thing. Now I know that if I can make myself happy, I can make other people happy—and if that’s being selfish, so be it. That’s what I am. 
 
Like tennis, Major League Baseball is filled with Rand fans. A recent profile in the Contra Costa Times of Oakland A’s outfielder Milton Bradley notes that his favorite book is The Fountainhead. Retired baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. revealed in his autobiography that he was an admirer of Atlas Shrugged—and that his former teammate, star outfielder Brady Anderson, was so much a fan of the novel that he’d read it multiple times.
 
Now, prominent people are publicly, proudly, proclaiming their love for Ayn Rand’s novels…and their respect for her ideas.
Or consider Scott Rolen of the St. Louis Cardinals. The media took early notice of his interest when they spotted him reading Atlas Shrugged; asked about it, Rolen said that his favorite bookwas actually The Fountainhead. His enthusiasm for Rand has prompted a number of amusing news items. While playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, Rolen—considered by many to be the best third baseman in the game—once found the last ten pages of his copy of Atlas torn out. The culprit proved to be teammate Gregg Jeffries, who did it as a joke during a team flight (Jeffries’ wife ordered him to return the cherished pages). The Orlando Sentinel of March 28, 2002 also reported that, during contract negotiations, Rolen met with the media wearing a T-shirt printed on the back with the slogan, “Who is John Galt?” That was his cryptic answer to the question, “Why would Scott Rolen turn down a $140 million contract?”
 
Count some of the most successful baseball team managers among Ayn Rand admirers, too. There’s Phil Garner, manager of the Houston Astros. Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane is a big Fountainhead fan. Likewise, Dodger general manager Paul DePodesta, who, the Los Angeles Times reported, said that he most admires The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark. “ At Harvard he became smitten with Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and reason-based decision-making theories,” the Times reported on April 4, 2005. “‘Without the passion, reason doesn’t get you anywhere,’ DePodesta said. ‘But raw emotion sends you down the wrong path.’”
 
DePodesta’s interest in Rand’s ideas is serious. “I have DVDs on Ayn Rand and have read most of her books,” he told the Press Telegram in August 2004. “Howard Roark was a guy loyal to his own ideals and principles and he eventually triumphs over every form of spiritual collectivism. He had big…” (Readers, you can fill in the blank.)
 
Moving to basketball, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban describes The Fountainhead as “incredibly motivating to me. It encouraged me to think as an individual, take risks to reach my goals, and responsibility for my successes and failures. I loved it. I don't know how many times I have read it, but it got to the point where I had to stop because I would get too fired up.”
 
In college hoops, Michigan State University women’s basketball coach Joanne McCallie was named in 2005 the Associated Press Coach of the Year, having led her Spartans to the greatest winning season in school history. Perhaps predictably, she is also a huge Rand fan. “My husband turned me on to Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand,” she told an interviewer. “I love Dagny Taggart, a character in that book.”

 

In golf, there’s David Duval, once ranked as the number one player in the game. An article in the May 7, 1998 Washington Post described Duval as “a voracious reader who counts Ayn Rand among his favorite authors and Howard Roark, the protagonist in The Fountainhead, among his favorite characters. Roark ‘is the type of guy who does things the way he wants to do them,’ Duval told his hometown newspaper, the Florida Times Union in Jacksonville. ‘Maybe I’m the same way. I try to play the game of golf the way I want to play it. I’m either going to succeed my way, or I’m going to crash and burn.’”
 
And in football, look to the gridiron’s premier kicker, Adam Vinatieri of the New England Patriots. According to a feature on the National Football League’s Web site, Vinatieri—considered the greatest clutch kicker in the history of the game—finds professional inspiration in Atlas Shrugged.
 
“If you assume Vinatieri’s reading list begins and ends at Field & Stream, guess again,” the story reports. “His favorite book is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. It is an epic novel about a society in mysterious decline, and about the death and rebirth of the human spirit. The book profoundly influenced Vinatieri’s feelings about the importance of pride in the work place.”
 
Even the world of bodybuilding has felt the impact of Ayn Rand’s ideas. The late bodybuilding champion Mike Mentzer was a zealous proponent of Objectivism, which he tried to apply to his own theories of scientific physical development. Many others in the field also pay homage to Rand, seeing themselves as striving for the personal excellence and self-development that she romanticized in her stories.
 
Is it mere coincidence that these champion athletes, all at the very pinnacles of their respective sports, identify so strongly with the heroic characters and inspirational themes of Ayn Rand’s novels? 
 

Capitol Ideas 

Elsewhere in this issue, Ed Hudgins focuses on the undeniable mark that Rand has left on political thinking in America. But let me add a few telling examples not mentioned in his article.
 
It was widely reported that the incoming head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, former Rep. Chris Cox (R., Ca.), was a Rand fan—a conclusion based on his authorship of a review of a Rand volume in the New York Times. Perhaps. But of the man who took the congressional seat Cox abandoned, there can be no doubt. Asked what political thinkers and philosophers had influenced his own political journey, incoming Cong. John Campbell had this to say:
 
Well, if you go back early in life, Milton Friedman—from an economic standpoint. I was an economics major in college, and a lot of Milton Friedman’s writings influenced me. And also, and I know sometimes this person has been riddled with controversies of late, and I understand that. I have read almost all of Ayn Rand’s books. Whereas I know she’s come under attack of late for some things, again the core philosophy of individual responsibility comes through so clearly, and is so eloquently put in books like Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead. So if you want to go back kind of early in life, in terms of philosophers, those are a couple I would say.
 
Like Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is also black, also a Rand fan, and also had a rocky road during her Senate confirmation hearings. Democrats in 2005 unearthed a number of quotations from Brown’s speeches to use against her, including this: 
 
Ayn Rand similarly attributes the collectivist impulse to what she calls the “tribal view of man.” She notes, “[t]he American philosophy of the Rights of Man was never fully grasped by European intellectuals. Europe’s predominant idea of emancipation consisted of changing the concept of man as a slave to the absolute state embodied by the king, to the concept of man as the slave of the absolute state as embodied by ‘the people’—i.e., switching from slavery to a tribal chieftain into slavery to the tribe.”  
 
A final example indicates that Ayn Rand’s political reach may have extended higher than Congress and the courts. A collection of the late President Ronald Reagan’s private letters reveals that he, too, was a fan of Ayn Rand’s work. On pages 281-82 of Reagan: A Life In Letters, we find the following passage:
 
In a May 23, 1966, letter William Vandersteel, president of the Ampower Corporation, expressed confidence that Reagan could win the presidency in 1968 and enclosed a pamphlet by Ayn Rand titled “Conservatism: An Obituary” written after the 1960 presidential campaign. In the essay Rand argues that many conservatives are opposed to statism but don’t seem to realize the only good alternative is capitalism.
 
Willam Vandersteel
New York, New York
May 23, 1966
 
Dear Mr. Vandersteel:
Thanks very much for pamphlet. Am an admirer of Ayn Rand but hadn’t seen this study.
Sincerely, Ronald Reagan
 

I would be remiss in this survey if I didn’t at least mention the extraordinary popularity of Ayn Rand’s work among entrepreneurs and business leaders—some prominent enough to be called “celebrities.” Not surprising, either: No one romanticized the world of business as well as she, and that love is requited in companies all over the world. But, in justice, that influence is so extensive that it merits an article in itself someday. 

The Author As Fountainhead 

A passage by Ayn Rand describing hero Howard Roark’s struggle and success has often been cited to describe her own career: “It was as if an underground stream flowed through the country and broke out in sudden springs that shot to the surface at random, in unpredictable places.” Her novel’s title captures not only the creative, generative essence of its fictional hero, but also of its author.
 
The path taken by a young girl from persecution and poverty in the Soviet Union to fame and success in America was an extraordinary journey with few precedents. But it demonstrated a point central to Ayn Rand’s view of life. In answer to those who declared that her fictional heroes and heroines were too idealistic, and could not possibly exist in reality, Rand wrote in a postscript to Atlas Shrugged: “That this book has been written—and published—is my proof that they do.”
 
Fame and celebrity are almost always transitory; they say that during his life, everyone gets his shot at fifteen minutes in the spotlight. Though those I’ve mentioned here are individuals of remarkable talent and accomplishment in their fields, I wonder how many will be remembered for, say, fifty or a hundred years.
 
But Ayn Rand’s fame, which already has lasted for decades, shows every sign of growing and enduring indefinitely. Hers were not nature’s gifts of an actress’s beauty, an athlete’s body, a singer’s voice, a politician’s gloss. Yes, she was endowed by nature with an extraordinary mind; but her achievements were not the automatic products of that genius; they were self-determined acts of will, of choice—of character.
 
Those whose names we remember, honor, and celebrate across the centuries are individuals who left their stamp on history not just for what they did, but for who they were. Ayn Rand lives on in the minds and hearts of millions because she was much, much more than a mere celebrity.
 
Perhaps that’s why so many celebrities are her biggest fans.
 

 

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