Literary Birthday: Ayn Rand

Born today in 1905 in St. Petersburg, Ayn Rand (birth name: Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum) came to America in 1926 and quickly decamped for Hollywood. Even though her philosophically iconoclastic novels like Atlas Shrugged (1957) would later make her a libertarian icon, Rand started her creative career knocking out scripts for Cecil B. DeMille at $25 a week.

Years later, the rabidly anti-Soviet writer (Bolsheviks had taken her father’s store in the revolution) returned to the movie industry in different way: Writing a pamphlet for a group called the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. Screen Guide for Americans advised filmmakers on ways that they could keep their work All-American. Its many handy tips ranged from advice on selection of collaborators (“Do not hire Reds”) to artistic choices (“Don’t present all the poor as good and all the rich as evil”).