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Biography

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Overview (4)

Born in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire [now Russia]
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameAlissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Ayn Rand was born on February 2, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire as Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum. She was a writer and actress, known for The Fountainhead (1949), Love Letters (1945) and The Fountainhead. She was married to Frank O'Connor. She died on March 6, 1982 in New York City, New York, USA.

Spouse (1)

Frank O'Connor (15 April 1929 - 9 November 1979) ( his death)

Trade Mark (3)

Extremely analytical
Piercing eyes
In her books, characters often give very long speeches, sometimes stretching over dozens of pages, explaining their philosophy of life. Rand used this as an opportunity to elaborate Objectivism, the philosophic system she is credited with creating, but also to showcase her view of other philosophic systems whose characteristic concepts conflicted with those of Objectivism.

Trivia (20)

She appears on a 33 cent U.S. postage stamp, which debuted 22 April 1999, in New York City.
Was a "friendly witness" before the House Un-American Activities Committee, testifying on alleged Communist "influences" in Hollywood.
At the time of her death, she was working on the script for a television adaptation of her novel "Atlas Shrugged".
She called her philosophy of rational selfishness "Objectivism", and wrote what would be her last novel, "Atlas Shrugged", as an illustration of it. She spent her later years writing articles, books and a newsletter on Objectivism.
Her philosophy of "Objectivism": Rational selfishness is a virtue; altruism (self-sacrifice) is a vice.
She met future husband Frank O'Connor on the set of The King of Kings (1927), and they married in part because her visa was about to expire.
Had a longtime amphetamine prescription for "weight control"; it is believed that this may have influenced some of her later behavior and decision-making. Biographer Barbara Branden asserted that the dosage was very low, and when Rand became aware of the side effects, she stopped using the drug.
Stayed with relatives in Chicago when she first came to the U.S., but nearly drove them crazy with her late hours spent typing and improving her English skills. Moved to Hollywood to get into the movie business, since it was still the silent-film era and the demand was more for scenarios than actual dialogue.
Turned twenty-one during her voyage to America, and also changed her name, in part to protect her family back in Soviet Russia. "Ayn" (rhymes with "mine") came from a Finnish author. The exact origin of her last name is uncertain; however, in 1936, she told the New York Evening Post that 'Rand is an abbreviation of my Russian surname.' An oft-repeated story claims that Ayn Rand took her last name from her Remington Rand typewriter while she was living in Chicago in 1926, but this is not true because the Remington and Rand companies did not merge until 1927; 'Rand' did not appear on their (or any) typewriters until the early 1930s. Yet another theory is that "Rosenbaum" spelled out in Russian Cyrilic letters resembles "Rand Ayn" in English Latin letters. She kept her initials A.R.; explaining later "Two kinds of people keep their initials when they change their names - criminals and writers," to her protegé Nathaniel Branden (himself born Nathan Blumenthal).
Shortly before her death in the early '80s, when she appeared on Donahue (1967), she expressed admiration for the Charlie's Angels (1976) TV series, defending it as a form of romantic fiction.
Is portrayed by Helen Mirren in The Passion of Ayn Rand (1999).
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 666-668. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
When she appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) he had originally intended to bring her on during the last few minutes. After talking with her before the broadcast, he threw out the entire program and put her on for the duration.
Refused to allow her publisher to edit or prune her manuscripts.
Once worked in the wardrobe department at RKO Pictures, for which she was paid $25.00 a week.
First underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1974.
Michael Caine named his older daughter Dominique after the heroine of The Fountainhead (1949).
Victor Hugo was one of her favorite authors.
Never learned to drive. Her friends and associates believed that this was on purpose, so she would always depend on her husband Frank to do the driving, leaving him in control of that part of their relationship.
Declined to apply for Medicare, even when her health began to fail, because she saw the idea as a betrayal of her principles. Did so reluctantly in her last years, after she was assured that her ongoing medical treatments would bankrupt her otherwise.

Personal Quotes (46)

The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendor that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach.
Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one's own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value - and so long as that beneficiary is anybody than oneself, anything goes.
Upper classes are a nation's past; the middle class is its future.
Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man's life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work - pride is the result.
To hold an unchanging youth is to reach at the end, the vision with which one started.
[in "Brief Summary," The Objectivist, Sept. 1971] I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows. This--the supremacy of reason--was, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism.
Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.
Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.
Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
The principle of free speech requires . . . that we do not pass laws forbidding Communists to speak. But the principle of free speech . . . does not imply that we owe them jobs and support to advocate our own destruction at our own expense.
You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.
On strategy: In order to live...act; in order to act...make choices.
On love: Love is not self-sacrifice, but the most profound assertion of your own needs and values. It is for your own happiness that you need the person you love, and that is the greatest compliment, the greatest tribute you can pay to that person.
On growth: People create their own questions because they're afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don't sit looking at it-walk.
The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.
The top three plays are: Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Cyrano de Bergerac. It is without a doubt the greatest play in world literature.
[in 'Atlas Shrugged'] Accept the fact that achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose in your life.
The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian one is a matter of time.
The man who lies to the world is the world's slave.
Man is not a Sacrificial Animal.
Between these two extremes of age - from college years to the culmination of a lifetime's struggle - lies a silent psychological horror story. It is the story of men who spend their lives apologizing for their own intelligence.
There was once a time when College Students studied facts, knowledge and human greatness. Now they study nothingness, ignorance, and the fool, the madman, the blind beggar, and the witch.
We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: The stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission.
The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.
The kind of doctor who is willing or eager to practice medicine under these conditions represents a new breed, new at least in quantity. There is a generation of utterly unambitious young doctors growing up today, especially conspicuous in the HMOs, doctors who are the opposite of the old-fashioned physician in private practice - doctors who want to escape the responsibility of independent thought and judgment, and who are prepared to abandon the prospect of a large income or a private practice in order to achieve this end. These doctors do not mind the forfeit of their professional autonomy to the HMO administrator. They do not object to practicing cut-rate medicine with faceless patients on an assembly-line basis, so long as they themselves can escape blame for any bad results and cover their own tracks. These are the new bureaucratic doctors, the MDs with the mentality, and the fundamental indifference to their job, of the typical post-office clerk.
No dictatorship has ever survived that did not institute censorship.
There is now a new and deadly pressure on the doctors, which continuously threatens the independence and integrity of their medical judgment: the pressure to cave in to arbitrary Diagnosis-Related Group economies, while blanking out the effects on the patient. In some places, hospitals are offering special financial incentives to the physician whose expenditure per patient averages out to be relatively low. For example, the hospital might subsidize such a doctor's office rent or purchase new equipment for him. On the other hand, a doctor who insists on quality care for his Medicare patients and thereby drives up costs is likely to incur the hospital's displeasure. In the extreme case, the doctor risks being denied staff privileges, which means cutting off his major source of livelihood. Thanks to DRGs, a new conflict is in the offing, just starting to take shape: the patient vs. the hospital. To put it another way, the conflict is: doctors vs. hospitals - doctors fighting a rearguard action to maintain standards against hospitals that are forced by the government to become cost-cutting ogres. How would you like to practice a profession in which half your mind is devoted to healing the patient, while the other half is trying to appease a hospital administrator who himself is trying to appease some official in Washington?
Psychology departments have a sprinkling of Freudians, but are dominated by Behaviorism, whose leader is B. F. Skinner. (Here the controversy is between the claim that man is moved by innate ideas, and the claim that he has no ideas at all.)
[Anthem] This is a great sin, to be born with a head which is too quick. It is not good to be different from our brothers, but it is evil to be superior to them.
Today, we live in the Age of Envy. "Envy" is not the emotion I have in mind, but it is the clearest manifestation of an emotion that has remained nameless; it is the only element of a complex emotional sum that men have permitted themselves to identify. Envy is regarded by most people as a petty, superficial emotion and, therefore, it serves as a semihuman cover for so inhuman an emotion that those who feel it seldom dare admit it even to themselves. . . . That emotion is: hatred of the good for being the good.
As a science, psychology is barely making its first steps. It is still in the anteroom of science, in the stage of observing and gathering material from which a future science will come. This stage may be compared to the pre-Socratic period in philosophy; psychology has not yet found a Plato, let alone an Aristotle, to organize its material, systematize its problems and define its fundamental principles.
The task of evaluating the processes of man's subconscious is the province of psychology. Psychology does not regard its subject morally, but medically-i.e., from the aspect of health or malfunction (with cognitive competence as the proper standard of health).
[Intellectual appeasement] is an attempt to apologize for his intellectual concerns and to escape from the loneliness of a thinker by professing that his thinking is dedicated to some social-altruistic goal. It is an attempt that amounts to the wordless equivalent of the plea: "I'm not an outsider! I'm your friend! Please forgive me for using my mind - I'm using it only in order to serve you!" . . . An intellectual appeaser surrenders morality, the realm of values, in order to be permitted to use his mind.
The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser's intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture's dominant trend is geared to irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, unformed, vacillating character of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes.
The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter's stomach, is an absolute.

There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube
Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received - hatred. The great creators - the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors - stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won
If you do not defend the rights of the individual, how can you be said to really be defending the rights of minorities?
Armed with a smattering, not of knowledge, but of undigested slogans, they rush, unsolicited, to diagnose the problems of their friends and acquaintances. Pretentiousness and presumptuousness are the psychologizer's invariable characteristics: he not merely invades the privacy of his victims' minds, he claims to understand their minds better than they do, to know more than they do about their own motives. With reckless irresponsibility, which an old-fashioned mystic oracle would hesitate to match, he ascribes to his victims any motivation that suits his purpose, ignoring their denials. Since he is dealing with the great "unknowable"-which used to be life after death or extrasensory perception, but is now man's subconscious-all rules of evidence, logic and proof are suspended, and anything goes (which is what attracts him to his racket). While the racket of the philosophizing mystics rested on the claim that man is unable to know the external world, the racket of the psychologizing mystics rests on the claim that man is unable to know his own motivation.
Just as reasoning, to an irrational person, becomes rationalizing, and moral judgment becomes moralizing, so psychological theories become psychologizing. The common denominator is the corruption of a cognitive process to serve an ulterior motive. Psychologizing consists in condemning or excusing specific individuals on the grounds of their psychological problems, real or invented, in the absence of or contrary to factual evidence.
Only a man who extols the purity of a Love devoid of Desire, is capable of the depravity of a Desire devoid of Love.
No-one is more naive than a cynic.
Self respect is something that can't be killed. The worst thing is to kill a man's pretense at it.
Fascism, Nazism, Communism and Socialism are only superficial variations of the same monstrous theme: Collectivism.
There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism-by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide.
Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Leave them alone.

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