Did you meet
Ayn Rand personally? Did you like her?
I met her. I
worshipped her. I didn't much like her.
In August, 1973, after I'd interviewed Heinlein for
the New York Daily News, George Nobbe, the
Sunday editor who'd commissioned my Heinlein
interview, asked me who I wanted to interview next.
I chose Rand, and proceeded to get in touch with her
through her office. She had been burned by the press
so often that she was hesitant to do a newspaper
interview, but made an exception because at the time
-- hard as it sounds to believe -- Ayn Rand was
doing television commercials advertising the
Daily News! She did, however, want total
approval of the final printed interview, and
demanded letters of agreement signed both by my
editor and myself. We agreed, although my editor was
astonished; he'd never been asked for such a thing
for what he saw as a friendly puff piece written by
Rand telephoned me and asked to speak to me before
she would invite me over to interview her in person.
She asked me, "Are you a libertarian?"
I said, "Yes, Miss Rand."
She said, "Out of courtesy to the Daily News
I will not hang up. You will please explain
Which I proceeded to do. "I agree with your
metaphysics, your epistemology, your ethics, and
your theory of esthetics," I said. "I just think
your philosophical opposition to any compulsion more
logically leads to private enterprise taking over
all government functions, rather than to limited
"In this system with no government courts," Rand
asked me, "what will be the final arbiter when men
I quoted John Galt's speech: "Reality will be the
"Don't utter bromides!" Ayn Rand said to me
We spoke on the phone for another four hours. Rand
initially would not agree to let me interview her,
but by the end I brought her around.
She interviewed me during that phone call as much as
I interviewed her.
She told me that she watched Star Trek and
Spock was her favorite character.
I told her that my favorite classical composer was
Brahms, which apparently did not bother her the way
answering "Beethoven" would have.
She asked me who else I had interviewed and I told
her that it was Heinlein. She was familiar with him
and thought well of him.
I asked her if she objected to Atlas Shrugged
being called science-fiction, and she said she had
no problem with that.
She criticized the nascent Libertarian Party for
"using my ideas without giving me credit for them"
and I told her that although I was not a member of
the Libertarian Party, I needed to point out to her
that the first platform of the Libertarian Party
explicitly, by name, credited her philosophy as its
foundation. "I did not know that," Rand said curtly.
A few months later I saw her interviewed on
television where, once again, she criticized the
Libertarian Party for using her ideas without proper
By the end of that conversation, she was ready to
make an appointment to let me do the newspaper
interview with her, but imposed an impossible
condition on me. She would not agree to allow me to
tape record the interview, as I had tape-recorded my
interview with Heinlein. "But I'm not fast enough to
take accurate notes and listen to your answers at
the same time," I said. "You already have final
approval of the text of the interview and I don't
want to be in a position where I might misremember
something you said and misquote you. Why do you
object to my tape recording?"
"I don't want you to give the tape to Murray
Rothbard," she said.
"I have no intention of giving Murray Rothbard a
copy of the tape," I said. "This interview would
belong to the New York Daily News." She would
not change her mind. "Okay," I said, "how about if
you have someone from your office record it and
provide me with a verbatim transcript?" Once again
she refused. "Then why would the Daily News even
need me to interview you?" I asked, "Since you have
final approval of the text, and without my having
some objective record of our conversation, in
essence you'd be writing the interview, yourself. I
can't work under those conditions."
So we ended our conversation there amicably and she
said, "I wish you good premises."
About seven or eight years later I managed to get my
hands on Rand's home phone number, and called her.
She remembered me and we chatted in a more or less
friendly way, since I was now a published novelist,
myself. I asked her if I might send her my novel for
her to read. "I read an interview with you
recently," I told her, "in which you said you had a
hard time finding any new novels you could enjoy
reading. Since we share the same esthetics, I
thought you might like mine."
"Oh, you poor boy!" she said. "I meant I wished I
could read something new by Agatha Christie."
I got mad. "I'm better than Christie," I said.
arrogance wasn’t enough to impress her.
Maybe a year later I phoned her again. I don't know
what set her off, but this phone call didn't last
long. It ended with her telling me, "I despise all
libertarians." Then after a pause, "Including you."
Those are the last words I ever heard from Ayn Rand.
Well. Those are the last words I heard from Ayn Rand
while she was alive on earth. I've since run into
Ayn Rand on the other side, in one of my dream-state
crossings to the afterlife. She was a whole lot
By the way. None of these conversations were tape
recorded so I've reconstructed the conversations
from memory. The quotes are therefore not word for
Gary York's interview with J. Neil Schulman