February 23, 2013

Now that we're talking about the 1927 silent film "King of Kings," we must take note of Ayn Rand.

We were talking about "King of Kings," because we were talking about what Jesus wrote in the sand, because various blogs were talking about an Islamist Facebook page with a cartoon showing how to carry out a stoning. I started to wonder whether the first commenter who mentioned "King of Kings" was talking about the 1927 Cecil B. DeMille picture or the 1961 Nicholas Ray flick. So I'm over here on the King of Kings (1927 film) page at Wikipedia, and I see:
Sally Rand, before becoming notorious for her "fan dance" at the 1933 World's Fair, was an extra in the film.

Ayn Rand (no relation to Sally Rand) also was an extra in the film, and met her future husband Frank O'Connor on set.
I couldn't find a YouTube clip of Ayn Rand in "King of Kings," but I did find Sally Rand and her notorious World's Fair fan dance:



I also found this 2009 New Yorker article about Ayn Rand that covers the "King of Kings" phase:
Rand... left the U.S.S.R. for America.... Her vision of the U.S. had already been shaped by obsessive moviegoing.... Even before leaving the Soviet Union, she had published a pamphlet on the silent-film actress Pola Negri, and like a movie star herself she now refashioned “Rosenbaum” into her own new name. Heller and Burns both knock down the myth that a Remington-Rand typewriter inspired the rechristening.

There is a greater factual basis to the legend of Rand’s having met Cecil B. DeMille before she worked as an extra on his production of “The King of Kings” (1927). On the set, Rand persuaded a costume director to promote her from a crowd of beggars to a crowd of patricians, and DeMille had his story chief look at her film scenarios, which were soon judged over the top. Rand achieved steadier success working in the R.K.O. wardrobe department, and then had a writerly breakthrough with a courtroom murder drama called “Night of January 16th.” Thanks to a gimmick that allowed each night’s audience to serve as the jury and thereby choose the ending, the play made it to Broadway, where Rand railed against the producers’ subordination of its incidental messages about the beauty of unbridled individualism.

Settling in New York with her husband, Frank O’Connor (another “King of Kings” extra), Rand set seriously to work on the first of her two major novels, “The Fountainhead.”....
How do you feel about all those connections? The Soviet Union, the love of movies, immigration to the land of movies, name-changing, finding the love of your life on a movie set in Hollywood, strippers performing what is only the illusion of nakedness, and... Jesus.

28 comments:

traditionalguy said...

I feel used.

Meade said...

"How do you feel about all those connections?"

I feel like it is literally fabulous: resembling or suggesting a fable : of an incredible, astonishing, or exaggerated nature.

BaltoHvar said...

And a James Burke documentary breaks out -

Rand loved the Space program... In "The Right Stuff" Rand is a character performing her enchanting Fan Dance for the 7 and their wives.

ricpic said...

Ooh, "obsessive moviegoing." Must be a kook.

Sharkcutie said...

Frank O'Connor was not the love of her life . . . Nathaniel Brandon was.

Sharkcutie said...

Frank O'Connor was not the love of her life . . . Nathaniel Brandon was.

edutcher said...

As the years went on, most dancers decreased the size of the fans, which made it less art and more science.

Ann Althouse said...

strippers performing what is only the illusion of nakedness,


Sally rand was less stripper than performance artist, IMHO.

But I'm willing to bet the leotard wasn't there at the Fair.

Coketown said...

I like all the connections.

But, to bring it full circle, Ayn Rand was an adulterer. And there are plenty of people who would enjoy pelting her with stones--if not only for her adultery.

But Rand's response to adultery is to write things in the air with cigarettes--not into sand with fingers.

Astro said...

"How do you feel about all those connections?"

I'm reminded of the line by Yakov Smirnoff:
Ah-Mare-ee-ca! Vaht a Country!

Bob_R said...

My first encounter with the name Sally Rand was in high school football where we ran a version of the Sally Rand play - a reverse that is almost, but not quite, naked. I don't remember how we found out that she was a stripper. No problem now. Is the internet cool or what?

ricpic said...

Ayn Rand, enchanted by the shining few
Was wary of the also rans, the Salieris --
She knew the second rater tirelessly unmans.


Oso Negro said...

Nice fans. I see why Sally was popular.

Lucien said...

Can't think of Sally Rand, or hear Claire de Lune without thinking of the wonderfully inter-cut sequence in "The Right Stuff".

Lem said...

Cats... the biggest cat of all is said to be the King of the jungle... and a long running musical play.

A play, of which, a possible upcoming Movie roll lured New Yorkers Ouisa and Flan Kittredge, of Six Degrees of Separation, to allow into their upper east side apartment, a young black man they never met before.

The Kittredge's prized possession is a double sided Kandinsky, one side that represents control, the other side chaos.

Freeman Hunt said...

I skimmed through this because I was in a hurry earlier and took part to read, "Ayn Rand and her notorious World's Fair fan dance." Well that was just too strange, so hurry or no, I was going to watch this fan dance. I hit play, and I'm thinking, "That doesn't look like Ayn Rand. She could have dyed her hair blonde I suppose. That's how she looked with blonde hair? This is too weird! Why haven't I heard of this?! So strange. So surreal."

And then I scrolled back up for a reread and my mind was unblown.

Emil Blatz said...

Sally Rand may have had the right stuff, but how would you know?

The Godfather said...

It's fair to say that Ayn revealed more than Sally did, don't you think?

David Davenport said...

Did Ms. Rosenbaum take her new name from Sally Rand, or from the Remington Rand brand of typewriters?

Typewriters: steely, productive, unemotional. A writer typing away through the night ... like a modern, powerful, streamlined steam locomotive pulling a long train of elegantly dressed individualists... the smoke from their cigarettes smaller versions of the locomotive's exhaust. ... Lighted cigarettes in the darkened bar car describing glowing dollar signs in the air

The throbbing vibrations of the big engine pounding the strong steel rails exciting Dagny Taggart in an almost ... way.

Michael K said...

The writer didn't like her at all. No surprise there.

Dante said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dante said...

Sorry, the video takes longer than than 3 seconds to capture interest. The youtube rule, you know.

Darrell said...

But I'm willing to bet the leotard wasn't there at the Fair.

You'd lose, then.

I have it on good authority from people who actually were there that she wore opaque covering--just enough to meet the letter of the law. Police were there, under orders of the mayor/Cook County State's Attorney, to place her under arrest if she violated public nudity statutes. They got to watch her every performance.

You can find a film strip--the kind used for those hand-cranked viewers, a Nickel per play, that does show bare breasts. That was ny dad's entire "porn" collecton, at least what survivded for me to see it. That was made before the World's Fair and before she became famous. She effectively used that fame to make a good career out of performing that CWF dance around the World. She was still doing it long after--enough that I saw her perform on TV--I think it was a local show.

Chip Ahoy said...

How this movie directer filled the gap, or the script writer did, does work for me very nicely. It does answer the question that I had, "just exactly what did he write in the sand?" If that answer is made up here, it works brilliantly. Because it works for a story that might also be made up for all that I know, at least that nagging lacuna is closed.

Fandor said...

Ayn Rand's life, on many levels, is one of inspiration. An immigrant from Soviet Russsia, with help from her relatives already here, ends up in Los Angeles and using her intelligence and talent, meets and works for one of Hollywood's foremost directors, C.B. DeMille, and rises to become a world famous novelist and philospher. No one was better at promoting Any Rand and Objectivism than Ms. Rand herself. Her work speaks for itself and has continued to influence many to this day. Any was a self professed "man worshiper" and had absolutely no use for the "womens' movement". Ironically, she is probably better known than the most famous of feminists, whoever that may be. See my point?

rsb said...

I just know that you haven't even read any Ayn Rand you hack.
Go buy a scarf.

Fandor said...

Huh?

Michael said...

We did that play in high school! I was Brock. You're telling me that was written by Ayn Rand?!

Michael said...

We did that play in high school! I was Brock. You're telling me that was written by Ayn Rand?!