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Exploring the life, works of Ayn Rand

October 12, 2006|Susan Carpenter

Long before Ayn Rand became a household name for penning the controversial classics "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead," the novelist-philosopher lived in Hollywood, struggling, along with so many other immigrants, to launch a career through film.

From 1926 to 1951, Rand worked in Hollywood, getting her start as an extra on the set of Cecil B. DeMille's "The King of Kings" before working as a screenwriter for Paramount and as a copywriter for an anti-totalitarian Hollywood activist group. It's these lesser-known aspects of Rand's life that will be explored at various events and in the exhibit "Ayn Rand in Hollywood: Images and Documents," opening Saturday at the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library. In addition to documents and rare photos, a series of three readings from Rand's unpublished works begins later this month, followed in January by a series of four films. The 1997 documentary "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life," which was nominated for an Oscar, kicks off the monthlong series, which continues back in time to the two 1945 features Rand wrote, as well as the film version of "The Fountainhead." Rand's famed 1943 novel is the subject of a lecture in February. "Integrity and Hollywood: Adapting the Fountainhead to Film" explores Rand's screenplay (which was made into the film) and the two competing, and contradictory, adaptations that were rejected.

The Hollywood exhibit is the second in a triptych of exhibits tracking Rand's life. The first, "Ayn Rand in Russia," was displayed last November at the Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the 100-year anniversary of Rand's birth. The third, "Ayn Rand in New York," set for October 2007, will coincide with the 50th anniversary of "Atlas Shrugged's" original publication. "Ayn Rand is very integrated in terms of her many activities. There's always a way to start with a screenplay, or decision to move to one city or another, and pull it back to the philosophy that was the driving force of her life," said Jeffrey Britting, author of the 2004 biography "Ayn Rand" and curator of the exhibits. "The through line is devotion to reason, devotion to freedom and the freedom to write as she wanted."

Ayn Rand exhibit. Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library, 1623 N. Ivar Ave., Hollywood. Opens Saturday. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Ends Feb. 28. Free. (323) 856-8260, www.aynrand.org/exhibit.

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